An Interview with Ella Minnow Pea
Ella Minnow Pea, the title character, lives on the fictional island of Nollop. Named for its founder Nevin Nollop, the islanders vinerate Mr. Nollop to almost God-like status (their vineration eventually devolves into divine worship of Mr. Nollop). Nollop’s claim to fame? Creating the pangram “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. A sentence containing all 26 letters of the alphabet, with just 36 letters total. The islanders pride themselves on their extensive vocabulary.
When the letters of the aforementioned sentence begin to fall off a statue of Nollop’s likeness the islands ruling class, or the High Council, interpret the coincidence as a sign from Nollop from beyond the grave, a sign to cease using any letter that’s fallen from his sentence. The story is told in letters between Ms. Minnow Pea, her family, and friends. Her cousin Tassie, aunt Mittie, her mother Gwennete, and father Amos, her friends Tom and Nate, all conspire to prove the council wrong about the interpreted meaning behind the falling letters.
As more letters begin to fall, not due to any message from an omnipotent being, but from poor craftsmanship of the statue’s makers, the island delves further and further into madness. With every fallen letter legally barred from the island dwellers vocabulary, communication between them slowly devolves into incomprehensible speech. Books are burned, citizens are banished, property is seized, and the island nation begins to resemble a mad dictatorship.
Scene: Ms. Minnow Pea sits with her mother and father; Gwenette and Amos Minnow Pea on a beige couch. They are positioned against a blue backdrop with tall white letters that read The Dunn Hour. Host Mark Dunn welcomes them.
Mark Dunn: “Welcome to the Dunn Hour, I’m your host Mark Dunn. I’m here with Ms. Ella Minnow Pea, who for all intents and purposes, led the crusade against the tyrannical government who had taken over the island nation of Nollop. Welcome Ms. Minnow Pea, it’s a pleasure to have you here.”
Ella: “It’s my great pleasure to be here, Mr. Dunn.”
Mark: “You’re a very brave young woman Ms. Minnow Pea. What, do you feel, is the source of your courage?”
Ella: “ I’m certain the source of my valor must be accredited to my deep love for Nollop, its citizenry, and reverence for my parents and all they have imparted to me.”
Mark Dunn: “What was it like to be stripped of your native tongue? To have it outlawed so brutally?”
Ella: “Mr. Dunn, I confess, I struggled with hopelessness in this time. I felt as though everything that made us Nollopian was stripped from us. Our native speech is essential to us”
Mark Dunn: “The burning of books must have been difficult?”
Ella: “ I can say now, as I could not say then. I was pusillanimous in thought that the incidents of which you speak could ever be recovered from within my homeland. It was the very wrenching away of all that was true.”
*Ella speaks with tears wetting her eyes
*Mark Dunn offers a tissue
Mark Dunn: “Four months enduring a repressive regime, much of that time spent without the support of family and friends nearby, how did you manage?”
Ella: “To those who remained in Nollop amidst those times, I am forever in their debts’. I held fast to the belief that Nollop could be saved, simply because the other options were far too dire to consider. Never being reunited with my family on your native soil seemed to me the worst sort of amercement one can imagine”
Mark Dunn: “You must be relieved to finally be reunited with your family. How did you all celebrate your reunion?”
Ella: “When my family returned to me, it was a joyous occasion. We celebrated late into the evening with discourse of every kind. Without a single restriction to our merry speech. It was quite the time.”
*Mrs. Minnow Pea smiles and pats Ella’s hand
Mark Dunn: “What do you want the world to know about the events that happened in Nollop?”
Ella: “Tyranny has no limits. I desire the world to guard itself diligently against the consummate cruelty of despotism. Also, to treasure your lingua-franca, for it is all that makes us human, that raises us beyond the company of common beasts.”