Thursday, March 24, 2011

Two Solitudes

Two Solitudes, by Hugh MacLennan, is a well-known novel about the relationship between French- and English-speaking Canadians. We studied the abridged version in school,and I was pleasantly surprised to find a reference to caning that had not been edited out along with all bedroom activity. It took place at a boys' boarding school, modeled closely on an English public school. I thought the general atitude towards corporal punishment so refreshingly pleasant and casual that I want to share it with you.
None of the masters went by a rulebook, their teaching was careful, and if the boys did not do their arithmetic, English, French, Latin, algebra and geography, they were caned for it. All the masters were very cheerful as they bent the boys over and caned them, and Sergeant-Major Croucher liked to make a small ceremony of ht, military style. When he gave them one crack, he said he was making them lance-corporals, when he gave them two they became corporals and so on up to the commissioned  ranks.

It was a matter of pride for all the boys to get a certain amount of caning, and if Croucher noticed that any of the shy ones were failing to qualify, he invented a minor crime and made them lance-corporals for the sake of their morale. When he caned shy boys he was so cheerful he made it impossible for them to be afraid. But once he bent them over he gave them a really good crack. Then they would run away with grins on their faces holding their backsides, knowing they could prove themselves men by taking down their pants and showing the red mark Croucher had given them.
Wasn't he a nice schoolmaster?

From Hermione's Heart


Unknown said...

Makes me wish I was a teacher, but then again, I would have much more fun with caning women. Never young children. So fascinating that sex was removed, but caning wasn't.

ronnie said...

I've read a few accounts of boys being punished in English public schools but none of the masters were like Mr. Croucher.

Thanks for sharing Hermione.


Hermione said...

Red - I guess caning was an appropriate subject for young minds.

Ronnie - Trust Canadians to out-English the English!