Notes and story fragments on Veronika, Stoick’s Mama.
|Veronika spoils Flint because she sees in him what Halvar does not. To Halvar, the name Flint is about strength, but Veronika knows Flint can also be brittle. She’s afraid Flint will break under the weight of Halvar’s expectations that he be strong. Other members of the family recognize this; Stoick takes blame for his little brother, and Halvar allows it. Even with Spitelout as the youngest, Flint is seen as the less controlled and more emotional family member. |
Flint, age four, goes to the village on an errand. He returns almost two hours later, bare chested, injured, damp, and filthy. His tunic is soaked, and stained with blood and sap, and pine needles are lodged in his hair. Veronika is horrified at his appearance, but Flint is very proud of himself and his choices. He recounts his adventure to Stoick when his brother comes home.
Veronika is homesick, because she feels like Berk isn’t her home.
While Stoick and Halvar are away, there is a dragon raid. Brenna and Stoick are always there to help Flint, but Stoick is away. Flint refuses to be soothed, something Brenna and Stoick could manage working together. Flint continues to be fearful after the dawn raid and into the next day. Brenna gets ready in the morning and sets out to see how she can help. Veronika cannot persuade Flint all is well. If he does not hear it from Papa or Stoick, it is not real for him. Going through a raid without Stoick has Flint afraid his brother will never sit with him again, or tell him stories and jokes. Stoick’s absence during the raid shook his brother’s assurance that all will be fine, that Stoick will return to him. No matter how much Mama says it will get better, it isn’t better now. It finally sinks in that he drove Stoick away. His pain and misery is severe, and he becomes a sad child, not the busy, happy boy Veronika expects to see.
Veronika finally sees the rift in her family for what it is—a result of her belittling Stoick and taking his work and the control he has over his life away from him. Her ill-treatment has hurt them all, and she realizes she is lonely. She misses Halvar and his easy way with them; she misses Stoick, for he is stalwart and strong for his siblings, and makes her life simpler simply by being there; she misses Brenna, who is cool toward her and finds things to do away from the house. Flint misses his Papa and brother, and his unhappiness is on display. Even the notice of other boys and men do not comfort him. Gobber is with Stoick, and the absences are difficult to endure.
Veronika realizes, “ I did this.”
Veronika was afraid, afraid of her own tribe. They would take Flint from her, just as they had taken s9 many things from her: her home in Meathead, her family there, her husband’s time and attention. They had expected much, too much, stealing Brenna and Stoick under the guise of the tribe’s expectations. “Tis against tribe and custom, and we canna act against it.How many times had she heard those words, or ones like them, from Halvar’s lips? How many times had she withstood Ragna's jealousy and Mildew’s leering, and comments from the tribe? She listened to Halvar speak, his speech littered with canna, didna, mustna,, and wondered how she could not have enough influence to even make him speak properly. She sacrificed so much when she married him, and he refuses t9 d9 this one thing for her.
She was being irrational, they’d say. Easy enough, easily enough, because they were born here and lived here the entirety of their lives. Sh3 was, after fifteen years of marriage and motherhood, and bring a mother to the entire tribe, still an outsider. She worked, she served every day, and they always wanted more. Exhaustion was no excuse, nor illness.”Where were ye, Chieftess?” “I didna see ye around this past day. Are ye unwell?” “‘Tis unexpected, yer absence. We missed ye, Lady Haddock.She was not foolish enough to believe they cared, not any longer. It was her work, her labor, her time they wanted. Not her, not Veronika.
Halvar cared, she knew. The gentle touches from a man so huge, and his teasing way, even in front of others, revealed that. He asked her to dance, many evenings, and sang her favorite songs as they did. He never struck her, and rarely humiliated her, though there were times she was ashamed of him. Why he did not offer her a trip to her home Meathead any longer, she did not understand. She stood beside him through poxes and blizzards and dragon raids, only to do it again. Through it all, she smiled, and hid her feelings.
She was alone on this island, friendless and too exalted to have a friend for herself. She made herself a friend t9 others and did her work and had children to brighten her days. It had taken years for her to bear Brenna, but now she had three healthy children, and Halvar loved them dearly. Brenna was his delight, and more spoiled than was right, though they had seen that mistake and stopped depriving her of the corrections she needed. She was less smug, and more aware of her place, which was not above others in the tribe, especially her parents.
Stoick was Halvar’s son. The height and breadth of him, the shock of red hair, and the love of getting his hands dirty, all spoke of Halvar. It shocked her and eased her heart when her son had forgiven Halvar for his abuse. He was undeserving, but Stoick forgave him the beating because he was Papa. Father hurt him, but Papa never would. Stoick picked up and soldiered on, while Veronika remained angry for weeks. Because he was a Haddock, and Haddocks are strong. The two of them were closer because of it, and the bond between them was as strong as his vows to her.
Then came Flint. He resembled her—the brown wavy hair, the shape of his face, and its features held not a trace of Halvar. Finally, Veronika had something that spoke of her. A small someone, eager t9 speak and run and smile at the world. Flint charmed everyone, and was indulged by many. He was irresistible, this final child of hers, and she loved him in the way that Halvar loved Stoick.
Now they were trying to rob her of him.
Veronika teaches Ragna her secret recipe for cider, so she can make it and continue to pass it down. It is a family secret, brought from Meathead and given freely to Veronika’s dearest friend. They form a bond, one they agree will transcend death. Veronika tells Ragna that she is overjoyed Ragna will look after their family. She then insists Ragna “take and enjoy” Halvar, the man they both love, who loves them both back. She wants them to marry, and gives her blessing.It comforts them both. They work to keep the children nearby, setting up a training ground for Stoick close to Haddock House, but do not trap them. Brenna has a hiatus from formal lessons to focus on women’s work. Stoick assists tradesmen, learning how to mend nets and haul fish, make nails and sharpen weapons, and other such tasks. He trains, and his schooling becomes centered on things an heir needs to know. All his reading, writing, figuring, geography are based around this. He can do this at home, where the material, records, and Chief’s family live. Flint is given more responsibilities when at home. Veronika no longer helps the women of the tribe. The cannier ones know why, and create a network of women within Berk to do as she did to serve the tribe. Ragna is used as a pipeline to provide for the Haddocks in this time, bringing items into their home. As Veronika’s time shortens, Ragna and Spitelout spend nights at Haddock House. She and Veronika are friends as close as sisters. Veronika has occasional visitors, and chases the children and sometimes everyone, out of the house so she may speak privately. Coalie comes and she places weapons orders for the boys and an excellent staff for Brenna. The seamstress purchases and holds in reserve beautiful fabric for Brenna, for her wedding gown or other special event. Everywhere she leaves traces of herself, and commissions a family portrait, with Ragna, Spitelout, and Gobber included. She spends hours writing and sewing, especially for Halvar. She loves her family with all she has, while both women watch Halvar’s heart break a bit at a time.
Veronika says “It is not too much to ask you mind Flint.” Stoick is old enough to see to his own work, and is expected to accomplish it. Also, it is Veronika’s job to take Flint with her, and assimilate him into the tribe more, as she did with her other two children. He has to learn his place in family and tribe.
“He is your brother, and i put him in your charge. That is not the behavior I expect. You are responsible for him, n9 matter how you feel.” Flint is supposed to be in her charge, and she has the responsibility, not Stoick.
“This is not the behavior I expect from you.” Stoick is expected to do his work, and she is taking him from that.
“It is one time I asked.” Veronika never asked, she insisted. It was, at this point, more than once.
Veronika ordered Ragna to not look after Flint, though she did it with the others. Ragna’s assistance was the only reason Stoick was able to study the second day.
Veronika comes home later than before. She arrives, and Stoick races out to train with a hurried goodbye, before she can stop him. He is required to train, and believes she will keep him from it.
Brenna arrives. Veronika wants to see him, and cuts his training time short. Stoick has already shorted on his training, and now he cannot finish.
Veronika is angry Stoick ran off to train, even though he told her first.
“Your young brother wants to play, and you have a duty to him.” Stouck has a duty to his work and must obey Halvar. Flint’s pleasure is not more important than Stoick’s work.
She took the word of her youngest as gospel, even though her other children denied his story.
She stated Flint had been betrayed by Stoick. It is the other way around.
Veronika interferes with Halvar’s discipline, saying Flint is a wee boy who made a mistake, and not to frighten him. “He understands. Let me get him cleaned up.” She has never interfered before, and wants to keep Halvar from disciplining Flint, something she encourages with Stoick.
“She insisted Stoick was unkind and hurt Flint, calling him a baby. “It is not all wrongdoing from the youngest.” She calls Stoick mean-spirited. “My boy,”—”our boy,” she caught herself, “was torn up over it.” She doesna consider Stoick her son, and proclaims Flint is hers.
She tries to comfort him, though he has broken Stoick’s trust. Halvar has to stop her and remind her that Flint must know what he did is too much, and must know shame. “Protecting Flint at his age us against tribe and custom, and we, most of all, cannot make exceptions.”
Halvar says, ‘Hush yourself, woman, and prepare the food.” He never speaks dismissively to her, but that sentence dismisses her three times.
The next day, Veronika calls Stoick her son. She is unhappy, and wants to gloss over all that has happened. It’s not genuine—she just wants to be out of trouble, much like she was trying to achieve for Flint the night before. Stoick gives her a measured, mature answer.
Stoick politely refuses her offer to sit with her, saying he has studies to catch up on. She is the reason he is behind.
1) Taken from his studies.
2) Made into a servant.
3) Refused assistance.
4) Told minding his brother was his duty.
5) Deprived of training time.
6) Confined to the house.
7) Made into a plaything for Flint.
Everything that went toward his future education as the future Chief of Berk she stripped away.
Veronika had declared him not the heir.
When fighting with Halvar, she says:
1) “Stoick must not become prideful.” She is, and us teaching Flint the same.
2) “He cannot start abandoning his family for wandering Berk.” She is.
3) “He cannot set an example for his brother when he is elsewhere.” That’s her job, not Stoick’s.
4) “He is not the only person in this house who needs regard.” Neither she nor Flint are regarding others.
5) “He must learn to manage around other people’s needs.” His work is a necessity, babysitting and giving Flint what he wants are not.
“I will not have a prideful, spoiled child in this house. Stoick must learn his place.”
All she says about Stoick is describing her.
Veronika tells Halvar Stoick is his son, not hers, because he is like Halvar. They both have flaming red hair, a broad build, and the duty to look after Berk. Halvar and Stoick are too close, and Flint is left out in the cold. Flint is, in her opinion, Veronika’s son. He has her straight brown hair and a more slender build. He is a bit less independent, and has a charm that Veronika buys into. He expects to get what he wants, and can be self-centered. She sees him as very like herself, and misses the similarities between herself and Stoick. Halvar and She are fiercely protective, especially of family. Both parents can be stubborn. Both can become so lost in their own thinking they are blinded to what goes on around them. They are hard-working and have a strong sense of duty. Both love deeply and cannot imagine life without each other. Stoick has these characteristics, but Veronika does not see many of Stoick’s traits come from her. He also has her eye color, her freckles, and her chin.
The vest Veronika gives Stoick is a mark of him being the heir. Initially pleased and proud of the vest, he cannot help but be torn. It reeks of defeat for him now. He has the garment, but now it seems like a cruel joke, because she’s taking his position from him, and the vest is a broken promise.
While traveling to escape Berk and broaden Stoick’s horizons, Halvar tells Stoick that he is learning about and befriending boys on other islands to help find Brenna a good husband. Stoick begins to realize that he must look out for his sister in multiple ways. His papa is very careful of the womenfolk, and Stoick knows he needs to be, too. It dawns on him that Veronika needs to be looked out for, too. This is the beginning of his understanding he must reconcile with her. He slowly absorbs this knowledge and in the back of his mind, he considers what to do.
In their absence, Veronika finds a potential friend in Ragna, and a listening ear in Gobber’s ma. The interior of Gobber’s home is warm and bright, with hanging tapestries and a welcoming atmosphere. They talk, and Veronika realizes she never fully made her Mark on Haddock House. Gobber’s ma encourages her to find out who Veronika is, not the mother, or the wife, or the Chieftess. This time is an opportunity to find some freedom, the same as her children have.
Halvar asks Stoick what he wants. Does he want to be angry? Does he want only part of a family? Does he want to ignore what happened? Will he forgive Flint? Will he forgive Mama? If he refuses, can he forgive himself for it? Stoick has forgiven his Papa and sister before. What about now? What has changed?
“Flint, ye think too much on how important ye are and yer own wants. I see no thing ye are doing to help this tribe, and yer value is a wee thing compared to folk who work and give as they have.”
§ § §
Stoick’s mama taught him to speak properly, and called him on it if he did not. Before her death, she tells Stoick he can speak however he likes. He honors her afterward by always being proper in his speech, then begins using contractions for pronouns— he’s, she’s it’s, but does not relax all his speech. When he marries Valka, she persuades him to relax his speech further, at least at home. Stoick never teaches Hiccup proper speech, symbolic of Stoick’s desire to provide Hiccup a childhood with fewer expectations.
“Today he becomes one of us.”
Veronica feels like she’s not truly a Hooligan because she was born on Meathead. She thinks she will never be one of them. She doesn’t want Flint’s identity to be subsumed by the tribe, and resists letting him become one of them. She is isolating him to be there with her. She feels lonely and threatened and stifling Flint and Stoick is how she copes.