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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Blonde- Headed Girl and the 3 Bears Problem

Let me get this straight...a little blonde-headed girl disobeys her parents, wanders off in the woods, breaks into a home (even though it is bears' home, it is a home), proceeds to steal food, break furniture, and then sleeps in a stranger's (even though it's a bear) bed.

When it was told to me, Goldilocks was painted in the light of "shame on the cute little blonde- headed girl, but so glad she escaped from the bears!" I was relieved to read the Anonymous version printed in "The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales" edited by Maria Tatar that the bears were actually very versed in etiquette and Goldilocks was ill-mannered. They left the cottage to take a walk while the porridge cooled (no tongue burning shows good etiquette). They were trusting and honest and left their door open but in walks Miss Goldilocks. She had a field day as an intruder, vandal, and thief. But she still gets away. She escapes out of the window that they left open, which was another display of good house etiquette and tidiness because they opened their bedroom window in the morning for fresh air. Out she goes! Out goes the "shame on you, little blonde-headed girl" with a full belly and no one will ever know what she did. Either way, we do not get the typical pay-off moral lesson like in most children's folk tales where we know the punishment and see the results. But, is there a  punishment? Is it a cautionary tale?

I guess we can create our own endings with the children. She doesn't go back to the bears' house again this version claims. Guilt can be a horrible price to pay. She'll probably think about those bears everyday and wish she had not slipped up, disobeyed, etc. That is if she was that "fairly innocent little blonde-headed girl" that just made some bad decisions, but is generally good and has a conscience. Or is she the "I'm just glad my parents never found that out and I didn't get in trouble type". I don't know the moral lesson in that one. Or is it that humans are superior to bears and she was just exploring...they would have attacked her anyway? Hence, why children shouldn't be running off unattended in the deep woods. It's a toss-up. I don't know what to make of this old time classic tale.

Good discussion topic with the kiddos.

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