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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A New Novel, Part 51 The Upper Dormitory

Frau Drescher's attitude changes with Aksinya's pronouncement--if she knew more about Aksinya, she wouldn't have made such a change.  She should be more wary, but then, no one knows Aksinya at all, and we understand her issues more than anyone else.  Note, Frau Drescher's response to Aksinya's order.  Ma'am is the correct address of any titled woman--including a queen.  I hope that you were sucked into trusting Aksinya too.  I certainly wouldn't invite a woman who has a contract with a demon into a dormitory of young girls and a convent of nuns.

Frau Drescher’s lips made a flip-flop but never became a smile, “Yes, you are very perceptive, Countess. I am very concerned about having a woman of your quality and standing in my dormitory. Your own appraisal does make me feel much more comfortable…”

“Please take us to our room.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Frau Drescher led them to the stairs where the archway cut the building. She directed them up to the second floor. On the upper floor lay a very long corridor that led from the school to the church. The street side was similar to the bottom floor, but the windows were full. Aksinya could see the street and the building across from it. The wallpaper was a darker mix of flowers to match the brighter light from the windows. They were also roses but colored shades of red. Everything seemed fresh and well taken care of. The floor here was also oak, like the lower floor. Runners that matched the handsome wallpaper ran at the center of the floor and marked off the corridor by rooms.

Frau Drescher turned down the corridor away from the church and toward the gymnasium proper. At the end, she turned left. The doors at this end of the corridor would have opened directly on the second floor of the school. They were closed and locked.

They all followed Frau Drescher to the end door on the right that also happened to be directly above her office. She pulled out an old key with an attached heavy bob like those from a gasthouse and unlocked the door, “Usually, the doors are kept unlocked while the students are away from them. They may be locked when a student is inside, but I don’t recommend that.”

The parallel is the description of the upper floor and the lower floor.  Remember, the lower floor has yellow and pink roses, the upper floor has red roses.  In German culture, red roses are indicators of love.  This is an important idea that will be used later.  The change shows the paradox that Frau Drescher wants to prevent--she is obviously deathly afraid of impropriety.  This fear is common in the culture and society represented by this time (1918)--think of Victorian culture.  It is not much different in Austria (as compared to England).
We also see how the dormitory is isolated from the rest of the school--the blocked and locked doors on the second floor show this directly.  We will find that there is only an entrance at the lower floor and one into the chapel on the second floor.  You can get the imagery here, the only exits are into the school and the church--there isn't any other way out.
Then the clincher, Frau Drescher tells us the doors should remain unlocked while the students are away and when they are in their rooms.  The keys are like a gasthouse, they are not retained by the students--they are kept by Frau Drescher.  This will become important later.  Can you guess why Frau Drescher doesn't want the doors locked--it isn't a perverted reason, but we will see exactly why later.
I also surreptitiously draw your attention to the fact that Aksinya and Natalya's rooms are right above Frau Drescher's office.  This should indicate the level of surveillance.

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