Constance Contraire is a very stubborn, young, and very intelligent member of the Mysterious Benedict Society. At the age of two, she could speak and write in fluent English, so much so that anyone she met thought she was just very short.
It is later revealed that Constance wields some mental powers, the extent to which nobody is quite certain.
- 1 Appearance
- 2 Personality
- 3 Abilities
- 4 Relationships
- 5 Biography
- 6 Quotes
- 7 Trivia
- 8 Sources
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Constance has short, wispy blond hair and blue eyes; if she were taller she would slightly resemble Kate Wetherall. She is very chubby and, in the first book and all illustrations, seen wearing a red raincoat with enough pockets to hold thirty-seven pencils. While she is only two years old at the beginning of the series, she does not reveal this to her friends, who, due to her great intellect, overestimate her other abilities, such as staying awake or co-operating in normal situations.
In the latest book of the series, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages, pre-teen Constance wears a pink shirt with the word NO on it. She wears one of Mr. Benedict's plaid green suits that were fitted to her size.
The name "Constance Contraire" is certainly a play on the phrase "constantly contrary": "Contraire" is French for "contrary", referring to Constance's stubborn attitude. In fact, it's her stubborn attitude that saves the Society in the first book, when Mr. Curtain attempts to brainsweep them.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Constance Contraire is much like any other two-year-old except for happiness, innocence, and cheerfulness. She is constantly grumpy and contrary to anything anyone has to say; she insists on having the last word and will do almost anything to get it. She is also very grumpy at everything that does not go her way.
Because her more advanced intellect conflicts with her natural instincts, it's difficult for Constance to relate to children her own age; her friends are the only people with whom she can really relate. Constance seems to favor Reynie, but she considers herself close to Sticky as well. Her behavior towards Kate is very sisterly.
She is rather mischievous: she is known to have peppered Reynie's toothbrush, and her infamous insulting poetry speaks for itself.
Constance does, however, have a toddler's instincts and food is one of her main concerns, especially candies and desserts. If anything's not exactly her way she can get very frustrated. At first, Kate is extremely reluctant to have anything to do with her.
Abilities[edit | edit source]
Constance is a genius, who can read, write, and speak intelligently at an extremely early age. She spouts rhyming poetry on the spot, usually insults directed at whoever is closest to her.
In the second book, it's shown that Constance can recognize people by their footsteps. This proves useful to the children on many occasions; such as when they are talking and Constance alerts them that Captain Noland is coming down the hall.
In the third book, this ability has heightened to the point of almost psychic-appearing power. Constance can predict the weather by sensing patterns in the air, and likely predict behavior as well by mood patterns and knowledge of a person's general behavior. She can also communicate information through images telepathically, communicating her location to Reynie in the form of a call number at the library.
She once used her powers to convince Sticky for an instant that he didn't like vanilla ice cream and that he should give it to her. While successful, this use of her abilities gave her an immense headache and stomach flu-like symptoms for days.
She also managed to cure Mr. Benedict's narcolepsy, which was one of her most stressful experiences.
Mr. Benedict tells the children that Constance is highly sensitive to patterns, making her appear psychic. However, she isn't psychic in that she can predict the future without any previous information. She is especially sensitive to, and can hear, the Messengers' voices.
Her pattern-recognition ability makes her excellent at solving puzzles - she is able to recognize a pattern even in a large jigsaw puzzle where few pieces have readily distinguishable details and put it together far faster than anyone else.
Relationships[edit | edit source]
Constance is close with Reynie, treating him like her own brother. Reynie seems to be the one who understands her the most. Sticky is also one of her best friends although she does become a bit of a know it all when around him. Most of the arguments she picks are with Kate although as the girls in the group they have a nice bond. She has a father-daughter relationship with Mr. Benedict, which intensified when he adopted her. Through her adoption she became sisters with Rhonda and Number Two, who were earlier adopted by Mr. Benedict.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Before the Series[edit | edit source]
Constance was orphaned at a very early age, growing up in the house of a woman named Myrtle. Soon after her second birthday, Ten Men (then called Recruiters) tried to buy her for Mr. Curtain, so that she could be enrolled in the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. Over-hearing the Ten Men speaking to Myrtle across from the other room, Constance realised the extent of the situation and escaped the house, bringing her adoption papers with her. With the help of an old lady, she escaped to the Brookville branch library, where she lived for several months, sleeping in a neglected storage room and feeding of the librarians' snacks. She had recurring dreams about the Recruiters trying to get her, however, and eventually hypnotized herself into forgetting all about them.
Constance's series debut was in Chapter 4, "The Trouble with Children, or Why They Are Necessary." According to Rhonda Kazembe, she had disregarded the rules about bringing one pencil to Mr. Benedict's tests and had brought thirty-seven instead. She had answered the questions with funny but impertinent answers, including "What is wrong with you?" and "Rules and schools are tools for fools - I don't give two mules for rules!" Mr. Benedict laughed so hard at these he fell asleep, but they only confused her soon-to-be friends. During the Maze Test, she didn't attempt to find the exit, instead "having a picnic" in a remote corner of the maze, knowing Milligan would eventually come and find her.
Milligan did indeed find her and bring her to Mr. Benedict's study to meet the others. Revealing her snarky side immediately, the first thing she said was "I'm not apologizing". Throughout the early chapters that she is featured in, she and Kate begin building a mutual animus, which must be resolved throughout the rest of the series.
The first major event she took place in was her own kidnapping. Two Recruiters attacked her, shock-watched her unconscious, and carried her into the maze in a sack. Milligan rescued her, but not without some physical damage and trauma on her part.
The night before they left for Nomansan Island, Kate became fed up with Constance and asked Reynie to ask Mr. Benedict why the younger girl needed to come. They chose, after a short discussion, to let her stay, because Mr. Benedict said she was a key to their plan. She ended up soon being an integral part of the mission. She also "named the crew," The Mysterious Benedict Society.
During Chapter 16, (Poison Apples, Poison Worms), the first message broadcast begins. Reynie, Sticky, and Kate all feel angry, but Constance is the only one who can hear the Messengers' voices. This proves that she has a very sensitive mind - a nod to the psychic powers revealed in book 2 and developed in book 3.
Constance's next big moment comes in Chapter 32. (Sacrifices, Narrow Escapes, and Something like a Plan.) When Kate realizes that Jackson's licorice is stuck to her shoe, she squirms up to get it and attempts to pass it down the table to Reynie. He continues passing it until it gets to Constance, where she nearly makes a fatal mistake by lifting it up into Jackson and Martina's view. Once she realizes this, before either Executive sees, she eats the dirty, stepped-on licorice, making a sacrifice.
Toward the end of the book, as Kate attempts to get into the Whispering Gallery carrying Constance, they run into a block named Jackson, Jillson, and Martina Crowe. Kate evades them for a time, but eventually has to resort to a last-ditch plan - using her weight to throw Constance onto the flagpole. Constance panics and yells "Open up! Open up! Open up!" at the top of her lungs, disrupting Mr. Curtain's session with Reynie and Sticky in the Whisperer.
Constance's true hero moment, however, comes at the very end of the book - when she pushes past all fears, restraints, and grudges to save the rest of the Mysterious Benedict Society as Mr. Curtain attempts to brainsweep them. She sits in the Whisperer herself, chooses to sit in it, and resists with all her might and mind. She fights against it until Milligan tries to break into the Whispering Gallery through its secret entrance, effectively distracting Mr. Curtain and befuddling the Whisperer entirely. She slipped out of the Whisperer easily, astonishing the other three.
Constance turns three at the end of the book, revealing to her friends her age. Mr. Benedict throws her a birthday party.
Quotes[edit | edit source]
The Mysterious Benedict Society[edit | edit source]
"Milligan! Come and tell us why you're so dreadfully glum!"
"Poor Kate", said Constance,"she's lost her marbles"
"What is wrong with YOU?"
"Rules and schools are tools for fools-I wouldn't give two mules for rules!"
"Now we have waited for thirty consecutive
minutes to see some old dirty Executive
thirty long minutes I could have been sleeping
but she doesn't find her appointments worth keeping!"
"Are you trying to get me caught, George Washington?"
"Let's see you study with voices spouting gibberish in your head!"
“I didn’t call you ‘that.’ I called you George Washington.”
The Perilous Journey[edit | edit source]
"Get your wits outta here!"
"Do I remember them?" "Hmm, let me think, Kate. Oh, wait! You mean like the men who tried to kidnap me - the ones who shot wires out of their watches, shocked the wits out of me, and stuffed me into a bag?"
"My poems would sound good if your ears weren’t of wood."
"Number two asked, 'Well? Are you going to just sit there and watch me clean this up?' A smile slowly crept onto Constances face, and she said what Number Two thought she would: that she did, indeed, intend to just sit there and watch."
The Prisoner's Dilemma[edit | edit source]
"I'm an orphan! I'm an orphan!"
"I didn't realize this was a sad occasion"
"Green plaid is quite hideous, a pattern cooked up by dimwit designers that must have been mad."
"You're SORRY? Come on, Kate. We get -
Packed into a van like sardines in a can,
And I have to sit next to a stinky Ten Man;
Thirsty and terrified hour after hour,
Certain that Curtain has us in his power.
And you think sorry covered it?!"
The Riddle of Ages
What about me!
Why does Tai have to be as cute as a button, when I was a whiner, a snoot and a glutton."
"For Uncle horrible"
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Constance's poems are often used for comic relief.
- Many of Mr. Curtain's henchmen are very wary of Constance's special ability.
- Out of all the MBS members Constance is thought to be the most valuable by Mr. Curtain.
- Kate often calls Constance "Connie Girl", which annoys her to no end.
- Constance's name is, like many of the others', significant. Constance Contraire means, essentially, 'constantly contrary'.
- During the third book, Constance is mentioned to be four years old throughout the entire book. However, since she was four at the beginning and her birthday is in January, she would have been five by the time the real adventure takes place.
- Throughout the first book, Constance refers to Sticky as George Washington, his full name, though he said multiple times that Sticky was just fine.