Strong Women in Gillian Polack’s The Time Of The Ghosts – Kat in Chapter Six [p.96-99]

Anyone that has read at least a few pages of the novel can tell that the four main protagonists; Lili, Ann, Mabel and Kat; could not be more different from one another, yet they complete each other perfectly. Three grandmas and a teenager is an odd combination to begin with but facing ghosts together makes for an even more special hobby.

As Kat has only joined them recently, she has never had any real experience with ghosts before. When Ann first meets her, Kat is without a family. Homeless and inexperienced. Ann shares her thoughts about Kat and her personality right in the beginning of the novel.

Ann had never met a teenager like Kat.
Compact and self-contained.
Passionate beyond belief.
Willing to do anything for other people.
Not a scrap of an idea of how to take care of herself.
Sharp as a razor. Emotionally whipped red raw.
Full of contradictions.

page 4

It is that passion and will to do anything for others that allows Kat to stick up for her grannies when they were confronted with a group of lubbers in chapter six. When Ann tries to chase them away by telling them to leave Canberra and Australia in general, the situation escalates and she is suddenly surrounded by a big crowd of “manlike creatures with big eyes and bigger mouths” (page 96). The creatures also notice Mabel when she takes two steps back; they start swarming around her pressing her back into a big letterbox.

Kat is shocked by what she is experiencing in that moment.

Kat stood there, stunned. Her grannies were being attacked by little manlike things.

It was indecent. It was wrong. It froze Kat to the spot. Silent. Hurting.

page 96

Kat awakes from her frozen state when she hears Lil crying behind her and loses her temper. Stepping forward, she pokes one of the lubbers. She tries to get them to leave by verbally assaulting and insulting them.

At the back of her mind she saw Mabel scared, she saw Ann trapped. “You hurt my grannies, I hurt you.”

page 97

What also stands out to me was that Kat takes one step forward while Mabel takes two steps back. Even though Kat is scared and also mentions that she “didn’t like what she saw.”, she still stands up for her grannies as the feeling of anger overpowers her fear.

Harnessing her rage, she expounds a speech on how thousands of teenagers will watch for the creatures and know what to do.

Just a bunch of teenagers, standing and looking, standing and looking, standing and looking.

Have you ever seen how a teenager can stand and loom? It’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen.

It shrinks you inside. It makes you tinier than tiny. […]

But that’s not even the worst thing that will happen to you.”

page 97

As Kat keeps threatening them, the lubbers start to back off. The grannies finally find their voices again and help Kat to chase the lubbers away. In the end Lil praises Kat more than once for her act.

“That was so well done of you” […] “We were lucky. […] We had Kat.”

page 99

As mentioned before, Kat’s act in this scene shows perfectly how passionate she is for others. She overcomes her fears because she can’t see the people who are really important to her suffer. This makes her a really strong female character in Gillian Polack’s novel. After she has not had a real family in so long, she grew closer to the grannies and claimed them as her own grandmothers.

Overall The Time Of The Ghosts has a lot of scenes that show that these four women have really strong personalities. This scene in particular stood out because it was the first time that Kat had to protect the grannies and not the other way around.

Reference: Polack, Gillian. The Time of the Ghosts. Next Chapter, 2021.