Morality In Sontag's The Water-Babies

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The Water-Babies rescripts Christian seriousness through Sontag's notion of “[camp as] serious about the frivolous” (61). Tom's moral evolution is “frivolous about the serious” because he has not been instructed about his moral lessons. One example is Tom’s quest to find the other water-babies to play with. Tom's "sheer disappointment" on not finding any water-babies is because he is impatient and idle. Therefore, Kingsley presents the moral that “even little babies [must] [wait and work for things] too…” (78). When Tom frees the lobster stuck in the hole, he is instantly rewarded with “a most wonderful thing” – a water-baby. Kingsley camps up Tom’s lesson here because he is not instructed how to learn from this experience. This is because this lesson has no change in Tom’s character. This is because he still uses his boisterous nature to free the lobster “by “pulling him through [the …show more content…
Sontag’s camp explores the male more female, and female more male. Kingsley then camps up androgyne through Tom’s desire to be like Ellie. When Tom discovers Ellie he is fascinated by her “delicate [clean] skin” and declares himself “much prettier…[if he grew like Ellie]” (14). Tom tries to do this by “[rubbing] the soot off [him]” which Kingsley camps up the ideal child as a little girl through Tom erasing the soot that defines him as a boy in Victorian society. Mother Carey’s incarnations are the inciting force that evolves Tom into becoming a camp version of an androgyne. For instance, when Mrs Bedoneasyoudid turns Tom into a “sea [urchin]” for stealing lollipops, his beastly soul reflects his beastly body. As Tom is used to “hunting and tormenting creatures for ere sport” (30), he is now turned into something beastly which contrasts his boisterous role through his excessive crying and need for maternal comfort

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