Readers have asked me about the representations of the Oakbrook women, and of other characters. Elder is a mother figure, Drummer is a protector. The stereotypes do manifest in most forms of fiction purely because we, as readers, identify with them and as such we seek them out in our reading.
What follows here is a ramble about some of the three main Portal women, their origins, their inspiration and their motivations.
While it wasn’t intentional, the three women in the series have come to represent aspects of the western society that I see everyday and aspects of ourselves as well as the traditional three ages of womanhood
Sam is the youngest, the maiden who although she is a mother doesn’t really want to be. She can’t cope as a mother or as a friend, barely functions as a person, has no idea what or who she wants and her anger at her treatment in the events leading to the opening of the book tear apart the lives and friendships she encounters. She is depressive and damaged, and not someone you need in your life. Sam is the person who would deliberately walk through the mud or brambles rather than step out on a cleared path.
Yet, somehow, Kate and Lily love her anyway. I’m not sure I understand why, but don’t we all have a friend who needs more support than others? Don’t we stand by them and try to help them?
Sam was adopted as a very young baby, only a few days old, and her biological mother isn’t known initially. She has a daughter, Susan, who looks very much like her mother. Susan has inherited her magical abilities. Sam refuses to reveal who Susan’s father might be. She says she doesn’t know. Kate’s not sure she believes her.
Kate is the nurturer, the mother, the carer, the home-maker. She has an inner strength that she doesn’t see in herself but Lily and Jack both see it. The one with no magic, she is the one who holds the three families together while the magic rips them apart. She is the one who can rein Lily in when she rushes in without thinking. Kate is the one who can help the children and make sure they have a happy childhood. Kate is the one they turn to, even as adults, when answers and comfort are needed.
As the quietest of the three, in many ways Kate is also the strongest. There is a fierce power lodged deep inside that she draws on whenever those she loves are threatened. Kate survives everything that I can throw at her.
Lily is, in many ways, the most complex of the three. She is the oldest, in more ways than one and she has held the power since her birth. But she’s not truly a “crone” in the sense of age. She has been trained and uses magic in everyday life but chooses to keep it quiet and subtle. She has a tremendous depth to her and is a force to be reckoned with. A wonderful and true friend but not someone you’d want to cross. But Lily is also flawed, like crystal that could shatter if hit in just the right place.
Lily has so much history that there are bound to be things that hurt her. There are things she’s kept secret for too long and might be better out in the open. But Lily has been keeping secrets since she was a child and the habit is so ingrained now that she isn’t going to change. But isn’t that part of why you all love her so much? You know there’s more to her than you see, you adore the mystery.