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My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cap mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.
A 1962 novel by Shirley Jackson, who is best known for her short story "The Lottery". We Have Always Lived In The Castle tells the story of the Blackwood family, the only three remainders of which are the narrator, eighteen year-old Merricat, her older sister Constance, and their crippled uncle Julian. The three of them live in isolation in an old manor and are the target of suspicion and hatred from the people of the nearby village.
Everything changes when, one day, their cousin shows up for a visit...
The Novel Contains The Following Tropes:
- All the Other Reindeer: Potentially justified, as Merricat likewise holds everyone (except for Constance) in contempt.
- Familiar: Merricat's cat, Jonas, has no supernatural powers but functions as one of these.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Constance and, from a certain point of view, Uncle Charles.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Merricat.
- Big Fancy House: the Blackwood house, although not so much after all but three rooms burn down at the end.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: see the page quote.
- Children Are Innocent: Subverted, as No one suspects the then twelve year old Mary Katherine of having murdered her family.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: At the end of the novel, golden-haired, pink-cheeked Domestic Goddess Constance must forever wear her pink dress, while her changeling, forest-child sister Merricat is stuck wearing brown.
- Did Not Do the Research: Arsenic does not work that way.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Merricat poisoned her entire family, save for her sister, because she was sent to bed without any supper.
- Gold Digger: Charles.
- Hair of Gold: Constance.
- Harp of Femininity: Constance has a literal one.
- Incest Subtext: Charles to Constance, although Constance doesn't seem to notice. However, Constance also seems to have a vague idea that Charles will take the place of her dead father. Freud Would Have A Field Day.
- Malicious Slander: Subverted.
- Perfect Poison: Most of the Blackwoods were killed by a poisoned sugar bowl.
- Promoted to Parent: Constance. She doesn't seem to mind.
- Shrinking Violet: Constance has never left the grounds of her home since her family died.
- Strange Girl: Mary Katherine is this trope distilled in its purest form, although she is arguably a Deconstruction.
- Rambling Old Man Monologue: Uncle Julian, who at least has the benefit of being pretty funny, and who occasionally drops backstory.
- The Unfavorite: Merricat considers herself this.
- Wrongly Accused: The people of the village think that Constance poisoned her family. She was actually tried for the crime and acquitted, yet the villagers remain suspicious.