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Who Was Laura White And Why Did She Disappear In The Rabbit Back Literature Society?

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Laura White, famous writer, founder of the Society, and the person The Rabbit Back Literature Society revolves around, disappears near the beginning of the story. A snow storm occurs in the hall of her house and when it dies down she’s nowhere to be found. The book is in many ways about her, but Jääskeläinen doesn’t need her to be in the book herself – she is the nucleus, for all intents and purposes a plot device.

To ponder the thought of death is surely to ask, given the subject of the book, whether perhaps White ‘died’ as an overused idea can die, fade away.

If we consider White in this context, that she was an idea, her disappearance makes a lot of sense. We can see her as the ideal of brilliance, fame, intelligence, all that her country-folk believed her to be. To her public, White was a genius. Maybe it was time to let her go, to move on to the next hobby, so to speak, because ‘here is the tenth member, Ella, and everyone will be wondering about her’. Could we bring in the idea that White could see what Ella would become, what she would be doing, and feel her time was up? That White had met her match in Ella? By the end, Ella holds some power over White, she could in theory come to the conclusion that White was not at all as she seemed – maybe it was better to end on a high, rather as she literally did on the staircase above others.

Ideas spawn more ideas. White was an idea and would have provided inspiration for her society, certainly she got them thinking. And, to look towards a meta possibility, if White was taking ideas from the children (and was thus herself not truly great) then Jääskeläinen was using White as an idea himself. With the introduction to the other writers in progress, she simply wasn’t needed any more.

Was Jääskeläinen using White to show the impermanence of ideas?

We can consider White a plot device – she enables Ella to join the society, she’s the device Jääskeläinen uses to get Ella into the society so he can study it himself for the readers. White has served her purpose.

Of course a very interesting point to be made is the way White steals from the children. One could say she hasn’t chosen children so much for their writing ability as for their imaginations. If they were out of ideas, perhaps she would be, too.

Rather than create a convenient death, Jääskeläinen creates a convenient disappearance that makes you wonder about magical realism and whether or not he did it just to show how things disappear. Of course all the characters refer to her throughout the book so it’s safe to say they are holding on to this idea, this White, but much as people hope Rowling will write another Harry Potter, it doesn’t mean it’ll come into fruition.

Have you read The Rabbit Back Literature Society? What do you think happened to Laura White?


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