Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Literature and J

After the 22nd reading of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in two weeks I am one exhausted Mommy. I enquire of my precious J, what makes this book so special. She tells me "The three bears are good and Goldilocks is not"

Clear as mud to me "Why don't I read you the Ginger Bread Boy story now ?" I entreat as she pushes her favorite book back on my lap and orders "Read it, Mommy" I latch on the Ginger Bread Boy with equal determination.

"Why don't you like that story ?" I ask "I don't" she replies. I don't want to ask leading questions and muddy the waters but she leaves me no choice at this point. I cannot take any more Goldilocks - I am past super-saturated.

"Who is good in the Ginger Bread Boy story ?" I ask "The little old man and the little old woman" she replies. We walk through the entire cast of characters and find no other heroes. The germ of a theory about J's literary sensibilities is shaping in my head but I seek further corroboration before I can claim "We hold these facts to be self-evident in the mothering of J"

I move on to the next story that she does not care about "How about the Three Billy Goats ? Who is good in that story ?" "The smallest Billy goat" The other two goats and the troll are villains per J. She does not pronounce her verdict on the middle goat quite unequivocally - so here is a character with some shades of grey. The biggest Billy goat and the Troll are comparable in their villainy.

My last ditch effort to escape Goldilocks "How about the Princess and the Pea ?" She responds "I don't like anyone in that story and I don't like the story " She obviously does not see the point. The characters are uniformly bland. They do nothing worthwhile with their lives, except look for a "real" Princess who will be sore from sleeping on a pea hidden under twenty feather beds. J wants the characters to get a life presumably. This story is flat out boring I have to admit.

A theory emerges from empirical principles .

A story with a higher hero to villain ratio is scores over one with a lower H/V ratio.

A hero is defined as one who does no evil even when presented with the opportunity to do so (The three bears leaving Goldilocks the shameless interloper unharmed).

A villain is defined as one who habitually flouts rules or bullies the under-dog or is plain avaricious (Goldilocks, the troll ,the cast of characters in Ginger bread boy who want to eat him)

A hero could turn a villain by bullying a bully back (Big Billy Goat challenging the troll to a fight).

Saving your own skin to jeopardize another's in not a heroic quality (middle Billy Goat).

Honoring intellectual and other property rights above all (the little old man and little old woman bake the ginger bread boy making him their property to dispose as they see fit)

To cut a long story short, I read Goldilocks for the 23rd time as well.


Priyamvada_K said...

Reminds me of how Calvin in C&H made his dad read the same story each night - "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie" until one day dad gets SO mad at it. Reads it anyway.

Later, Calvin lies in bed and says "Wow...that was different", and Hobbes asks if it wasn't the same story.

Calvin replies that it indeed was the same story, but he didn't remember things happening quite so fast :)


SeaSwallowMe said...

LOL, priya & crossings.

things change very rapidly at our place. one day Dora is adored because she manages to out-fox Swiper, and the next day, it's Swiper's turn to be adored because he's so naughty.

Heartcrossings said...

SSM, Priya - I wonder if you guys have the same experience with your little ones.

J takes every story very personal. She identifies strongly with one character and if that character does not fare too well she hates the story. There is no objectivity at all :-)

The only trouble is I can't guess who she'll decide to forge the bond with - that part is quite arbitrary. Trying to seek a method to that madness..

bleu said...

lol at priya and heartcrossings.

and yes, goodluck with finding THE theory! J might be fooling around to keep you guessing. :)