Friday, July 20, 2012

Article: No Happily Ever After

SciFi and Fantasy Art The Death of Little Hen by Ross Sullivan-Wiley

Hey everyone! Just to make everyone sadder on this rainy Friday, I thought I'd dispell with the myth that all fairy tales have a happy ending. Tales of Fairie brought to my attention this gutwrenching one that sounds like it could have come out of a newspaper today, "The Children Living in a Time of Famine:"
"There once lived a woman who fell into such deep poverty with her two daughters that they didn't even have a crust of bread to put in their mouths. Finally they were so famished that the mother was beside herself with despair and said to the older child: "I will have to kill you so that I'll have something to eat."
The daughter replied, "Oh no, dearest mother, spare me. I'll go out and see to it that I can get something to eat without having to beg for it."
And so she went out, returned, and brought with her a small piece of bread that they all ate, but it did little to ease the pangs of hunger.
And so the mother said to her other daughter, "Now it's your turn."
But she replied, "Oh no, dearest mother, spare me. I'll go out and get something to eat without anyone noticing it."
And so she went out, returned, and brought with her two small pieces of bread. They all ate them, but it was too little to ease their pangs of hunger. After a few hours, the mother said to them once again: "You will have to die, otherwise we'll all perish."
The girls replied, "Dearest mother, we'll lie down and go to sleep, and we won't rise again until the day of judgement." And so they lay down and slept so soundly that no one could awaken them. The mother left, and not a soul knows where she is."

Here is a rather famous one: "How Some Children Played at Slaughtering:"

"There once was a father who slaughtered a pig, and his children saw that. In the afternoon, when they began playing, one child said to the other, "you be the little pig, and I'll be the butcher." He then took a shiny knife and slit his little brother's throat.

Their mother was upstairs in a room bathing another child, and when she heard the cries of her son, she immediately ran downstairs. Upon seeing what had happened, she took the knife out of her son's throat and was so enraged that she stabbed the heart of the other boy, who had been playing the butcher. Then she quickly ran back to the room to tend to her child in the bathtub, but while she was gone, he had drowned in the tub. Now the woman became so frightened and desperate that she did not allow the neighbors to comfort her and finally hung herself. When her husband came back from the fields and saw everything, he became so despondent that he died soon after."
This is one I knew about for a long time, and it is so depressing that it is almost funny, "The Death of the Little Red Hen:"
"One time the little hen and the little rooster went to Nut Mountain, and they agreed that whoever would find a nut would share it with the other one. Now the little hen found a large, large nut, but -- wanting to eat the kernal by herself -- she said nothing about it. However, the kernal was so thick that she could not swallow it down. It got stuck in her throat, and fearing that she would choke to death, she cried out, "Little Rooster, I beg you to run as fast as you can to the well and get me some water, or else I'll choke to death."
The little rooster ran to the well as fast as he could, and said, "Well, give me some water, for the little hen is lying on Nut Mountain. She swallowed a large nut kernal and is about to choke to death on it."
The well answered, "First run to the bride, and get some red silk from her."
The little rooster ran to the bride: "Bride, give me some red silk, and I'll give the red silk to the well, and the well will give me some water, and I'll take the water to the little hen who is lying on Nut Mountain. She swallowed a large nut kernal and is about to choke to death on it."
The bride answered, "First run and get my wreath. It got caught on a willow branch."
So the little rooster ran to the willow and pulled the wreath from its branch and took it to the bride, and the bride gave him some red silk, which he took to the well, which gave him some water, and the little rooster took the water to the little hen, but when he arrived, she had already choked to death, and she lay there dead, and did not move at all.
The little rooster was so sad that he cried aloud, and all the animals came to mourn for the little hen. Six mice built a small carriage which was to carry the little hen to her grave. When the carriage was finished, they hitched themselves to it, and the little rooster drove. On the way they met the fox.
"Where are you going, little rooster?"
"I'm going to bury my little hen."
"May I ride along?"
"Yes, but you must sit at the rear, because my little horses don't like you too close to the front."
So he sat at the rear, and then the wolf, the bear, the elk, the lion, and all the animals in the forest. They rode on until they came to a brook. "How can we get across?" said the little rooster.
A straw was lying there next to the brook, and he said, "I'll lay myself across, and you can drive over me." But just as the six mice got onto the straw, it slipped into the water, and the six mice all fell in and drowned.
They did not know what to do, until a coal came and said, "I am large enough. I will lay myself across and you can drive over me." So the coal laid itself across the water, but unfortunately it touched the water, hissed, and went out; and it was dead.
A stone saw this happen, and wanting to help the little rooster, it laid itself across the water. The little rooster pulled the carriage himself. He nearly reached the other side with the dead little hen, but there were too many others seated on the back of the carriage, and the carriage rolled back, and they all fell into the water and drowned.
Now the little rooster was all alone with the dead little hen. He dug a grave for her and laid her inside. Then he made a mound on top, and sat on it, and grieved there so long that he too died. And then everyone was dead."
I think the last line is what makes me sad, and then giggle a little at the same time. "And then everyone was dead. The end." It sounds a little like a story a kid would tell (or someone fed up with bureaucracy). Children looooove morbidity. So, to cheer you all up after that extremely depressing post, I will leave you with this:

It makes you wonder if the Grimm brothers sometimes asked kids to tell them a story, because some of the fairy tales make as much sense as Scary Smash. 


  1. Yep - I used to doodle stories when I was in elementary school, and the one I strongly recall involved a goblin climbing through a princess's tower window, stabbing her, and escaping. I don't know what it is, but maybe it's the Dead in a Box thing that gets kids fascinated with the end of life when theirs is only just beginning.

    1. I dimly remember playing "Murder" where we took turns stabbing each other in our sleep.