A Devastating Turn of Events

World Building from the Inside Out, Part 3


This is the third week of exploring the world building questions from Janeen Ippolito’s blog. This week’s question about my main character is an interesting one and opens up all kinds of potential for subplots.



How would she deal with an unexpected pregnancy?

In the village culture of Tlefas, everything is controlled and regulated, ostensibly for the safety of the villagers. When people are twelve, they no longer attend school full time, but instead got to school part time and serve the rest of their time in various apprenticeships. The idea to find a suitable role for them in the village. When they are about fifteen, they begin working full time.

Also at this time, the teachers begin to decide who would make a suitable match. The teachers propose a match to the boy and girl involved, and their parents. If all parties agree, then they are permitted to court.

Matches can be refused, and about a fifth of the people refuse the first one offered. However, it is only permitted to refuse two matches. The third one becomes mandatory.

Everyone is married by the time they are eighteen, and are expected to produce at least three healthy children to help build the safe and peaceful society they all dream about.

Once a third child is produced and raised to the age of fifteen, extra-marital affairs are tolerated, as long as they are kept discreet and cause no disturbance to the peace or safety of the village.

If some young people have developed an attraction for each other, they can request to be paired. This is taken into account, but does not always happen.

Because marriages take place so young, and people are paired to maximize the benefit the children will bring to society, any pre-marital sex is strictly forbidden.  The highest penalty, disappearing without a trial, would be imposed on both parents of the illicit child.

So in this culture, an unexpected pregnancy would be devastating to fifteen-year old Iskra. Her first reaction would most likely be denial, which would quickly devolve into utter despair. Since she’s the kind of person who tried very hard to follow all the rules and to be an example to others, she would feel this humiliation very keenly.

At the same time, her instinct to want to help others, to care for others would make her very protective of her child and would make her want to give it life. This might lead her to try to arrange a quick marriage to cover up her crime, if her lover was willing. Most likely, he would if he was also unmarried, as exposure of Iskra would lead to his own downfall. That they had a baby only a few months after being married would lead them to censure and some consequences, but since they had completed an approved marriage, they would be allowed to go on with their lives. They would, of course, be under much greater scrutiny than other people who had not transgressed.

If her lover was unwilling or unable to marry her, for example, if he was already married, then she’d have to find someone to marry her who would be willing to keep her secret. This would not be likely, given the way people who have “early” babies are treated.

So in that situation, her only recourse would be to flee to the riskers, if she could find any who would take her in. Also not likely, given the treaties the riskers had with the king.

All in all, not a good situation for little Iskra.

One thing is sure. She would never tell her mother.

Next week: What is she addicted to, or what is one thing she could never give up?

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