Not every girl fits neatly into ‘success’ or ‘failure’. Some are distinctly one or the other by the end, some change back and forth through the years and some are a grey area all the way through.
Some of these girls come out of Malory Towers looking like successes – Miss Grayling doesn’t have a chart she ticks or crosses, or at least she doesn’t share it with the reader – but have had some serious hiccups along the way. A few I imagine Miss Grayling wouldn’t consider true successes based on her speech, but they get through without being expelled or leaving in disgrace.
Alicia is clever, capable and popular. She excels at school work, has lots of friends, does well at sports and can be very amusing when she wants to be. On paper she is a Malory Towers success. Unfortunately she is also very spiteful and sharp-tongued. She isn’t universally popular as a lot of girls have been on the receiving end of some very cruel remarks from her. She isn’t an outright bully (in my opinion) as she never wages a campaign against anyone in particular, she just can’t keep her mouth shut when she thinks someone’s being stupid, lazy or annoying.
Alicia does learn a powerful lesson when she fails her school certificate exam by coming down with measles. She suddenly realises what is must be like to have to work hard at school – before she’s never had to make much effort as essays and maths and everything has always just come easily to her. She is a trifle more humble after that and is grateful to be allowed to move up into the fifth form and pass the exam later.
Below; Alicia in her Demon King costume for the pantomime
June is Alicia’s cousin and similar in many ways. She is clever, funny and amusing but also unkind, underhand and untrustworthy. She is also very wild and gets into trouble in ways Alicia doesn’t. June is almost expelled towards the end of her second year at Malory Towers when she is revealed to be the person sending poison-pen letters to Moira and Felicity. It is not her actions that save her, though, it’s Moira seeing that she had wronged June and coming to ask Miss Grayling to give her another chance. The next year June has knuckled down a bit but still finds authority hard to deal with. She shows how brave she is, though, by saving Amanda’s life when she almost drowns. By the end of the series June is definitely a better person and has a promising future at Malory Towers.
Below; June rows out to rescue Amanda
Amanda is a great swimmer and sports person, having gone to Trenigan Towers, a school known for its emphasis on sports. She is only at Malory Towers because her school burned down (prompting my question of where all the 0ther Trenigan girls are, presumably they are wherever all the Mazely Manor girls went.) Like Maureen, Amanda looks down on Malory Towers, though she does it in a more deliberate way. The tennis courts are not to her standard. The swimming pool isn’t as big. They don’t focus on games as much as she would like. She is very aware of her abilities and boasts that she ought to win at least two events in the next Olympic games, and she is not popular due to her boasting and rude remarks.
Not one for shirking Amanda nearly messes up her time at Malory Towers in the most extreme way. She almost gets herself killed by ignoring all the warnings that the coast is not safe for sea-swimming. What do they know? So she goes for a swim and gets into trouble in the strong currents, and only survives because June (who she has aggressively coached just to prove a point) rows out and saves her.
She is a bit more humble after that, and throws herself into coaching all the girls who want it – instead of just the ones she deems ‘worthy’ – and integrates much more with the school.
Below; Amanda shows off her diving prowess.
Moira is bossy, domineering and unpopular. Being young for her form she is kept back in the fifth instead of moving up to the sixth. It is suggested by some of the new fifth formers that she has been left behind as she is so unpopular with the other girls. I can’t see that being the reason, the other girls wouldn’t get to make that decision and I don’t think Miss Grayling would make an important decision based on popularity. I can, however, imagine Miss Grayling thinking Moira needs more time to emotionally mature in order to move up the school.
Anyway, being an old hand at the fifth form, Moira is naturally made joint-head of the form. None of the new fifth-formers take to her, and Alicia particularly clashes with her on many occasions. She is unable to understand that not all girls are strong and bolshy like she is, and she is too proud to ever admit if she is wrong or someone else’s idea is better than hers.
It’s probably not surprising that she ends up getting poison-pen letters, as she seems to unfairly exert her power over the lower school if ever one of them cheeks her. She made an entire form learn Kubla Kahn once, because one of them wrote a poem (presumably not a kind one) about her and wouldn’t own up.
She must see she isn’t blameless in it all, as at the end she speaks to Miss Grayling and asks that June not be expelled for the letters. The fifth-formers see her in a better light after that, and although she is still somewhat domineering in Last Term at Malory Towers she is better tolerated.
Below; Moira chairs the first meeting of the pantomime committee
Catherine is also left down from the sixth form, and she is the joint-head with Moira. She is more or less the opposite of Moira, though. She is endlessly patient, kind and ingratiating. In fact she’s so helpful she’s an absolute pain in the behind. Nobody can move without Catherine simpering over them and offering to do all their jobs for them – only lazy Gwen generally accepts the help. She’s nicknamed Saint Catherine by the other girls and finally she stops offering help as she gets tired of the snarky replies she gets.
I almost feel sorry for Catherine but you’d think she’d learn after so many year at Malory Towers. She isn’t likeably helpful. Mary-Lou is kind, considerate and helpful without being pushy and ‘holier than thou’ about it. Catherine seems to enjoy ‘rescuing’ people and sticking her nose in where it isn’t wanted or needed. She leaves without ever going into sixth form, to stay and home and look after her mother who thinks herself rather an invalid. I suppose that would suit her!
The Batten Twins
As written about by Stef when looking at the twinniest twins, the Batten twins don’t do very well at first. Connie is bigger and ever so slightly older than Ruth, and she’s much more confident and forceful even though Ruth is the smarter of the two. Connie ends up speaking for her twin and doing all sorts of things for her. Ruth is left as a sort of shadow to her twin. Ruth passes the ‘school cert’ and moves up into the fifth form while Connie fails it and remains in the fourth. Neither sister is happy at first but Ruth is then able to be herself and look after herself, and Connie presumably settles too.
Below; Connie comes to the fifth-form dormitory to check on Ruth and is sent away.
Mavis is an excellent singer but she nearly scuppers her planned opera career by disobeying orders and going to sing in a talent contest at night. She misses the bus back and tries to walk but ends up soaked in a ditch. She is very ill afterwards and for a time it seems she may never sing again. By the end of the series she is getting her voice back and has learned that there is more to her than just a voice.
Below; Mavis is found soaking wet in the night.
Deirdre, as discussed in a previous post is a weak little thing. This is her only real ‘crime’. She was foolish enough to follow Jo and run away from Malory Towers. You can understand why, though. She has no mother and her father is at sea a great deal of the time. Her only other relative is a great-aunt who doesn’t send Deirdre any pocket-money or biscuits at school. She must feel quite lonely and left out so when faced with Jo’s wealth and generosity she is easily swayed.
Miss Grayling does have some quite serious words with her after she is returned to Malory Towers, and Deirdre realises she needs to buck herself up. Without Jo’s influence I hope she settles better into Malory Towers.
Below; Deirdre sneaks after Jo
We don’t really know what happens to all these girls after their moment(s) in the spotlight. Some of them we see more of; like Alicia, and know they finish their sixth year. Others fade into the background (like Connie) or we never see again (like Deirdre). I’d like to think that they all use their experiences to improve upon themselves and go on to do well. I would like to know if Amanda ever made it to the Olympic Games and if she ever won a medal, and to know how June turns out in the end.
Next post: Miss Grayling’s Girls part 5: The successes