Plot Summaries

Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School (W & R Chambers, Edinburgh, 1930)


A future new girl, recently-orphaned Eustacia, is introduced. [Note the use of the "New Girl" plot device and the complete absence of parents]

The characters of Madge, Jo, the Robin and Mdlle Lepattre are introduced, together with the Tirolean setting.

Term starts, and through Eustacia the school setting and the other characters are introduced. [Note how the "New Girl" plot device is being used to introduce the characters and settings of the series]

Eustacia will not submit to the rules of the community, and comes into conflict with it. Examples include sneaking on the rest of the class and being told off by their mistress as a result; taking the key to the library without permission and being told off by the prefects; arguing with Matron, a figure who symbolises authority; and being snobbish and unpleasant about a sick peasant child. (11-12: Eustacia begins to feel the influence of the Chalet School, enjoying a music lesson and a snow-fight.)

Eustacia comes into deeper conflict with the school. She causes a division between two forms and causes a school party to be trapped in a mountain hut overnight by a blizzard, leading to a teacher sustaining a broken foot and the Robin to become ill with worry, and is eventually ostracised by her peers. [Note the first use of the "Illness/Injury" plot device]

The Fourth and Fifth forms play tricks on each other. The Fourth empty all of the Fifth's inkwells, and the Fifth retaliate by messing up the Fourth's clothes, removing buttons, covering blazers with cat hairs and so on. [Note the use of the "Tricks and Amusing Incidents" plot device to break up the tension]

Eustacia runs away, causing the school a great deal of worry [ie the community has not rejected her; she has rejected the community]

Eustacia is trapped on the mountainside by a flood and only narrowly escapes death.

Eustacia, left temporarily disabled and in a great deal of pain as a result of her actions, is reconciled with the school, symbolised by a reconciliation with Joey. [Note how the "Illness/Injury" plot device provides a vehicle for character change, allowing Eustacia to be reconciled with the community]

The Chalet School and the Lintons (W & R Chambers, Edinburgh, 1934)


Joyce and Gillian Linton, future new girls, are introduced. Their mother has TB (their father is dead), and will go to the sanatorium while they go to the Chalet School. [Again, note the absence of a father and the fact that the mother is unable to be an active parent because of her illness, as well as the use of the "New Girl" plot device]

The girls travel to the Tirol and meet Joey, Madge, the Robin, Grizel and Eustacia (now Stacie; her continuing ill-health means that she is being looked after by Madge in her home, thus her accident has been a passport into the heart of the community). [The "New Girl" plot device allows some of the main characters and the Tirolean setting to be introduced]

The girls go to school [where the use of the "New Girl" plot device enables the school setting and other characters to be introduced]

Gillian is quickly assimilated, but Joyce comes into conflict with the community, passing notes in class which results in her being punished by the prefects, and holding a small midnight feast which results in her being extremely sick.

The Lower Fifth cook lunch for the school, but due to a mistake by Cornelia Flower, flavour half their apple pies with garlic rather than cloves, to the school's disgust. [Note the use of the "Tricks and Amusing Incidents" plot device to break up tension]

Joyce organises a rebellion against a young teacher's authority, and is severely punished by the Head.

Joey intervenes, and Joyce starts to behave.

Thekla, a new girl the previous term who has never been assimilated into the community and who has joined forces with Joyce, tries to blackmail Joyce into ending her friendly relationship with Joey. She is discovered and expelled.

The Lintons' mother becomes seriously ill, believing that Joyce, too, has been expelled. Joey is able to make her understand that Joyce is now obeying the rules of the school, both written and unwritten, and so she recovers. [The "Illness/Injury" plot device, this time affecting someone close to the person who is resisting being assimilated into the community rather than the person herself, is once more used to facilitate a new girl's reconciliation with the community]

Next: 6: Bibliography
Return to: 6. The World of the Chalet School Index
Return to: Virtual Worlds of Girls Index

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