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Essay/Term paper: Image of child heros

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Argumentative Essays

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Image of Child Heros


The image of a child hero or "trickster" is seen in many cultures. This
kind of role can tell a lot about how a culture acts and reacts to things. The
idea of the child hero in stories written and told before the birth of Christ
probably reflect the peoples beliefs that the child is the future, and therefore
carries some sort of power or gift. For stories that were written after the
birth of Christ, the child could reflect the idea stated above, or it could also
be the peoples belief in an infant savior, that a child will make everything
right again.
Whether the story comes from before Christ or after, the one uniform
aspect about these stories is that they are present in every culture, all around
the world. The image of the "trickster" is also very prevalent in the different
cultures. It is seen in many different fables and moral-based stories.
"You cannot go against the Philistine, you are but a youth, and he has
long been a man of war"(Metzger 145). This is what King Saul of Israel said to
David when he proposed that he fight the Philistine warrior Goliath. The story
of David and Goliath is quite possibly one of the oldest child hero stories.
It was part of the Bible, in the Old Testament. In this story a young man named
David proposes to the king of Israel that he fight and attempt to kill Goliath,
the giant that had been plaguing Israel. The king agrees, however hesitantly,
and David goes on to slay the beast using just a slingshot. While this story
is not one that was made up, it still shows us that the ancient Hebrews
believed in the fact that a child, or in this case teen, has the will and
motivation to do the impossible.
Staying on the eastern side of the world, we will next see examples of
Russian stories. In the former Soviet Union, a lot of the time stories, books
and other types of art were hard to come by. "In a broader sense, though, recent
years have witnessed genuine cultural enrichment, as Gorbachevs glasnost policy
permitted the works of previously forbidden writers, artists, and
cinematographers to become accessible"(Grolier Multimedia). After the public was
able to get at the mass of stories that had been kept from them, there was even
more of an increase of books and other forms of art. The Russian people now had
much more of an incentive to write. "In a certain village, not near, not far,
not high, not low, there lived an old couple with one little son named Ivashko"
(Wyndham 32). This is the line that begins the story of Ivashko and the Witch.
This story takes place in a small village in Russia, and the main character is a
small boy named Ivashko. Ivashko was a very independent boy who wanted to go of
on his own and go fishing. He begged and pleaded with his parents, and finally
they gave in. His father built him a canoe and off he went. Ivashko was doing
well while he was fishing, but and one point was lured to shore by an evil witch.
The witch grabbed him and took him to her house deep in the woods. She showed
him to her daughter and they decided that they would eat him.
At this point the witch left to get some of her friends. Ivashko seized
this opportunity, and when the witches daughter went to sit down on a shovel in
order to demonstrate to Ivashko how to do it, he through her into the fire. He
then left and ran up a tree. The witch found him and started gnawing at the tree.
Luckily for Ivashko, a flock of geese was flying overhead and one flew down to
sweep him up. Just as he left the tree fell over on the witch and all her evil
friends, crushing them. Ivashko lived happily ever after. This shows that in the
Russian culture there is a presence of the child hero, and even shows the image
of the trickster in the way Ivashko tricked the witchs' daughter into showing
him how to sit on a shovel. Ivashko is a hero in this story not only because he
killed the witch, but because he rid the lake and the woods of the evil that
kept most people from going there. Although this isn't one of the newly released
works in Russia, I think that the children's stories, sometimes being all that
the Russian people had to read that wasn't corrupted by the government, made a
great contribution to the development of the Russian culture and also had a
great impact on many people.
The image of the trickster is also very prevalent in different cultures.
In the African culture the trickster comes to the forefront in many different
folk tales and fables. He is usually used to teach a lesson or to show a moral.
In most cases the trickster ends up getting the short end of the stick, but in
the story I'm going to relate to you, Sungura and the Leopard, the trickster
comes out on top.
In the African jungle there lived a leopard. One day it started to rain,
and fearing that he may lose his spots, the leopard decided to build a house. A
short distance away, a rabbit (Sungura) had the same idea. Both chose the same
spot to build a house. They both then started to go and gather wood. Each was
adding to the same pile, but neither one knew that the other was also going to
build there. They just thought that their ancestors had put the extra wood there.
Leopard then went to get mud for the roof, and came back to find the house
already framed. He attributed this to his ancestors and went on to finish the
house. The two slept in the house that night not knowing that they were together.
In the morning they found each other and agreed to build a small wall and share
the house. After a while, Rabbit started a family. The noise got too annoying
for Leopard, so he decided that he would kill them. Rabbit overheard and decided
that it was time to play a trick on Leopard. He started having his kids cry for
elephant meat. Leopard overheard this and got scared. He figured " if he can
kill an elephant then he can kill me". So he left. He then saw a baboon, and
was called foolish for believing the rabbit. Then he went back. He then
overheard Rabbit say "I can't believe that leopard listened to the baboon! What
a fool!" (Knuston 19). Rabbit then had his children cry for Leopard meat, and
when Leopard heard Rabbit say that he would go out and hunt some, he left for
good. Rabbit now had the house all to himself.
This is a tale that came out of the Ashanti tribe, and the point of it
was to say that even if you are small, if you use your brain then you can
prevail. "Ashanti artistic creations include a wealth of myths and tales..."
(Miller 2). Tales such as this one are seen throughout the African tribes, and
the trickster is usually the one who prevails. The Ashanti, as well as the
other tribal Africans, believed that it was more important to use ones mind and
to be able to think quick than to just rely on brute strength all of the time.
Using the image of the trickster also served as an educational tool. It
displayed to the young children that they can get out of a conflict without
fighting. It also taught them that pride was bad, because Leopard only wanted
the house so that he wouldn't lose his spots, and Rabbit, the winner, only
wanted the house so he could raise a family.
European culture also has its fair share of trickster tales in Aesops
Fables. In these stories, which were said to have been written by a Greek man
named Aesop some time in the sixth century BC, there is always a moral for an
ending. While Aesops Fables is more of a collection of stories from different,
unknown authors, Aesop gets the credit for it.
The most commonly used "trickster" in the fables is the wolf. He is
shown to be very sneaky and mean, but also very smart. In many of the tales he
is successful as the trickster, and his main objective is usually to eat
some sort of defenseless animal.
One example of the wolf as a trickster is the story of the "Wolf and the
Crane". In this story, the wolf has a bone stuck in his throat and asks a crane
to use its long neck to pull it out. The wolf offers a reward, so the crane
reluctantly accepts. After the bone is out the crane asks for her reward, and
gets this reply, " You can go about boasting that you once put your head into a
Wolf's mouth and didn't get it bitten off. What more do you want?" (Santore 3).
this showed the cunningness of the wolf whereas he got the service that he
needed for nothing in return. One fable where the trickster didn't come out on
top was in the fable entitled " The donkey in the Lion's Skin". In this case the
trickster was a donkey. He found a lion skin, dressed himself in it, and then
went around scaring friends. When he neighed in happiness at his triumph, the
fox heard him, and exposed him for what he was. Here the fable taught the moral
that if one is to be a trickster, then make sure you are very careful about it.
Probably the most famous tricksters and child heroes ever to be
introduced to the world were Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. These two boys, created
by Mark Twain, spent their entire lives tricking people for different reasons
and also becoming heroes by getting themselves into many interesting adventures.
In the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer the two boys end up capturing a
criminal and bringing him to justice before the whole town. Another example of
Tom Sawyer's heroics was when he and a girl were trapped in a cave, and when she
passed out from exhaustion he took it upon himself to get her water and keep her
alive. In the end they were rescued from the cave and Tom was given accolades as
a hero.
The American culture is very receptive of the child hero. In recent
movies such as Home Alone, the child is glorified and given the role of the hero.
In America, where there is not very much that remains to be innocent, the image
of the child hero is



 

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