The section of The Experiment that takes place at the Donahoes' is one of the only things the final version of the book has in common with the original idea I had for the Raingolds' story, the other being the characters. It was inspired by part of Turn Homeward, Hannalee by Patricia Beatty, making another contribution to the odd combination of inspirations.
In the Donahoes' home, the children are forced to work as slaves, and are whipped when the quality of the work is not up to the Donahoes' standard. I don't know why, but I find oppression such as this to be very dramatic and exciting in a story. When I was young, pretending with my sisters and friends to live in a castle, I always preferred playing the servant to the princess, and I suppose this preference had something to do with the conditions at the Donahoes' home.
The Donahoes have a very large house, and are rather uppity. The have fine tastes, preferring escargot to a chicken casserole. And when their extreme standards are violated, they show no mercy.
I certainly would not want to go to the Donahoes', yet, despite basing the Raingold girls off of me and my sisters, I did not hesitate to send them there. After all, what good is a story if there is no difficulty to overcome?