The headmistress was a very well-respected theater teacher. She taught me what stage left and stage right were, what a director was, and what all these things meant, which was something I had no concept of. She sent me off to drama school, at age 18, and I stayed there for three years. Before I knew it, I was working on a TV show.
Anyway, members of the Inquisitorial Squad do have the power to dock points so, Granger, I'll have five from you for being rude about our new Headmistress. Macmillan, five for contradicting me. Five because I don't like you, Potter. Weasley, your shirt's untucked, so I'll have another five for that. Oh yeah, I forgot, you're a Mudblood, Granger, so ten off for that.
J. K. Rowling
If I had been armed with a feminist understanding that no girl deserves to be called a slut, perhaps I would have fought back by reporting the harassment to my school's headmistress or another school authority, or at least I might have had the strength to tell of the name-callers on my own. But at the time, all I knew was that if I avoided eye contact, it was a hell of a lot easier to get through my days.
If you ever put a student at this school in danger again-' 'Oh, I thought you Gallagher Girls were immune to danger.' Despite the hundred girls the filled the foyer, no one moved or gasped or tried to defend our honor. We stood silently, waiting for our headmistress to say, 'Oh, we are quite used to being underestimated, Agent Townsend. In fact, we welcome it.
You, my child, will marry well. More than once." (...) The lady retrieved the cards and shuffled them back together into one stack in an attitude of dismissal. Taking this as a sign her fortune was complete, Preshea stood. Looking particularly pleased with life, she passed over a few coins and gave Madame Spetuna a nice curtsy. Mademoiselle Geraldine was fanning herself. "Oh, dear, oh, dear, Miss Buss. Let us hope it is widowhood and not" - she whispered the next word - "divorce that leads to your multiple marriages." Preshea sat and sipped from a china cup. "I shouldn't worry, Headmistress. I am tolerably certain it will be widowhood.
The fireworks continued to burn and spread all over the school that afternoon. Though they caused plenty of disruption, the other teachers did not seem to mind them very much. "Dear, dear, " said Professor McGonagall sardonically, as one of the dragons soared around her classroom, emitting loud bangs and exhaling flame. "Miss Brown, would you mind running along to the headmistress and informing her that we have an escaped firework in our classroom?" "Thank you so much, Professor!" said Professor Flitwick in his squeaky little voice. "I could have got rid of the sparklers myself, of course, but I wasn't sure whether I had the authority... " Beaming, he closed the classroom door in Umbridge's snarling face.
This was when he first suspected that the kindly child-loving God extolled by his headmistress might not exist. As it turned out, most major world events suggested the same. But for Theo's sincerely godless generation, the question hasn't come up. No one in his bright, plate-glass, forward-looking school ever asked him to pray, or sing an impenetrable cheery hymn. There's no entity for him to doubt. His initiation, in front of the TV, before the dissolving towers, was intense but he adapted quickly. These days he scans the papers for fresh developments the way he might a listings magazine. As long as there's nothing new, his mind is free. International terror, security cordons, preparations for war - these represent the steady state, the weather. Emerging into adult consciousness, this is the world he finds.
Outside the study hall the next fall, the fall of our senior year, the Nabisco plant baked sweet white bread twice a week. If I sharpened a pencil at the back of the room I could smell the baking bread and the cedar shavings from the pencil... Pretty soon all twenty of us - our class - would be leaving. A core of my classmates had been together since kindergarten. I'd been there eight years. We twenty knew by bored heart the very weave of each other's socks... The poems I loved were in French, or translated from the Chinese, Portuguese, Arabic, Sanskrit, Greek. I murmured their heartbreaking sylllables. I knew almost nothing of the diverse and energetic city I lived in. The poems whispered in my ear the password phrase, and I memorized it behind enemy lines: There is a world. There is another world. I knew already that I would go to Hollins College in Virginia; our headmistress sent all her problems there, to her alma mater. "For the English department, " she told me... But, "To smooth off her rough edges, " she had told my parents. They repeated the phrase to me, vividly. I had hopes for my rough edges. I wanted to use them as a can opener, to cut myself a hole in the world's surface, and exit through it. Would I be ground, instead, to a nub? Would they send me home, an ornament to my breed, in a jewelry bag?