Reflection: The Boys and Girls Club

            The service learning project experience that I had was enjoyable. I only regret not being there for the first two weeks. I had to leave for home the first Friday of the project and unfortunately missed our first week of lesson plans. Because I was incredibly excited I planned out everything for my group mates so it would not seem as if I was “slacking off” so to say. I remember that I would have felt partly responsible if I had not planned everything. So, as mentioned before, I have missed the first week and regretful missed the second week as well because of Hurricane Sandy. And just as I have done before, I planned the entire week. I was saddened at the fact that things did not go as plan because Sasha never came to the first meeting so my group were two people down. And for the second week we missed 3 group mates total and Matt was basically left stranded.

            In the third week of this service learning project, I finally got my chance to meet the expectations that I had going into the Boys and Girls club. Initially, we read aloud Beauty and the Beast and I viewed that as a hassle. The club was incredibly loud, so I was thankful for Andrew’s booming voice because it allowed the kids to really hear the story. We also incorporated questions after every paragraph to prevent the jittering of the kids. At the end of the story, to keep the kids interested, coloring pages were handed out so they can see the theme that we were aiming for- what is truly important, is inner beauty. As we were reading, I understood something about teaching kids. Although it has to be planned, it also has to be planned in person. Just writing things and sending an email clearly did not work and I also noticed that after meeting and planning, the fourth week was more organized.

            As mentioned before, week three did not go as smoothly as I thought it would. I thought the kids would need something tangible to hold as the story was read and without that, they would become uninterested and that is not the point of the service learning project. To counter that, I included a more hands on activity for the kids. I printed out a packet for the kids to work on which had a copy of the story, The Golden Key, a section for drawing and a word search including the themes/words from The Golden Key. For week 4, I really strived to teach the kids something so before going to the Club, I read The Golden Key several times and tried to figure out if there is any hidden messages within the story that I have yet to pick up on. I realized that there are. So after analyzing the story, I explained to the kids about my findings and they genuinely seen interested. I also noticed that one girl, who was in my group for week three, actually participated this time. See, during Beauty and the Beast, she seemed quite isolated from the group and I asked her why was that. She hardly ever responded and I felt determined to provide her with something she’d enjoy.

            In the last week, I’ll refer to it as The Golden Key week, the packets were a hit. All of the kids enjoyed it this week and overall, I left the club feeling incredibly successful. As I walked out of the club last Friday, I thought of my overall experience. I remember being so determined to make progressively make it a better opportunity for the kids that I realized that I have planned everything. I do not regret doing so, but I now know that I put the responsibility on myself and I realize now that I became stuck in this leadership position. On nights like these were a presentation is due within 24  hours, and one group mate has never showed to assists in anything, it feels a bit stressful to have to recreate a visual representation of our four weeks.

            Overall, the experience I had at the Boys and Girls club was incomparable to just another final. Honestly, a final would not have had a bigger impression on me as my experience in the Boys and Girls club. I think of it like this. A final is a piece of paper that could be graded a perfect 100%, but months later that paper would end up in the recycling bin, or just unthought-of. At least with this knowledge that I acquired from the Boys and Girls club, I know it will not diminish.

            

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This is Not Intended to be a Sappy, Heartfelt, Good-bye Blog…

… but my First Year Seminar class has proved to be the best analyzing class of them all. After reviewing my posts, I can gradually see myself delving into the literature that is fairy tales, and picking out the very things that make it unique. I can see now that the class wasn’t simply reading a fairy tale and talking about it. I have learned about the Grimm brothers who “contaminated” fairy tales because of the “Zeitgeist” of the time. I put those words in quotations because prior to this class I had no idea what either of them meant.

I remember writing about my favorite-ish fairy tale (Beauty and the Beast) in the beginning of the semester and actually having the privilege to create a presentation based off of what Marina Warner had to say and it was just incredible. I saw childhood favorites transform in a way that I would never think of. I learned about the various approaches of analyzing any piece of work i.e. Freudian, Jungian, Marxist, and even a feminist approach. I must admit, my number one choice for an analysis would have to be the latter.

Like I said before, this class was definitely an opener albeit it was not always glitter-ful. My first essay proved to get the best of me when I failed to connect my thesis to my conclusion, or I had a sentence just out of place. It was moments like these that made me see that this class is not something to take easily. It requires a keen eye to details, which is something else I have developed throughout my first semester in college. Overall, the blogs that I have done have shown that I can analyze any piece of work from a fairy tale to a movie. And now I am of myself for sticking through the class because I have progressed immensely.

 

Let Down Your Hair

 

http://cartoon-icio.ru/image.php?id=480796

 

So I know that the film Tangled is absolutely different from the original tale except the symbols and motifs it provides. For example, in Tangled, Rapunzel is actually a princess who was locked in a tower long before she turned 12 (as written in the film). This cartoon interests me because there is an elevator which leads up to Rapunzel. Because of this, her hair seems absolutely unnecessary which wouldn’t add to the plot-line at all. Although this is an online faux-Rapunzel cartoon, I decided to try to  analyze this more deeply than what beholds the eye. The fact that the colors on top of the tower are red and yellow doesn’t contribute to the story neither. Think about it, if the Grimm Brothers depicted a tower which was red and yellow then how could the King’s servants (from the movie) not find Rapunzel? The colors are opposite of what camouflaging is. 

 

Cupid and Psyche and Oh My! The Brothers Grimm

The story of Cupid and Psyche can relate directly to the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Not exactly them themselves. Psyche is the youngest of her sisters and this is basically the story of Cinderella or Beauty from Beauty and the Beast. Now, because this is Greek mythology, there is a god. Her name? Venus. She is the goddess of beauty and becomes extremely envious of Psyche because others see her (Psyche) as the epitome of beauty.  If I focus on just one story, let’s say Cinderella, this is the exact same thing that happens. It’s absolutely amazing to find the similarities between these two stories. Cinderella is very beautiful and the step-mom becomes so jealous and full of rage that she forces Cinderella to be a servant for the family.

Venus sends her son Cupid, who is the god of love, to pierce Psyche with his obvious arrow and make her fall in love with what is known as the “bad” kind of guy. Cupid is so engorged with her beauty that he shoots himself instead. This is where the similarities go off a tangent a little. In Cinderella, there isn’t a plot to make Cinderella look bad in the eyes of others. The step-mom merely makes her not known at all. Cinderella hardly goes out of the house unless it involves cleaning.

In Cinderella, the prince seeks out a princess. In Cupid and Psyche, the opposite happens. Cupid falls in love with Psyche, but it is she who seeks a husband out and in return he is there, but she never sees him until her sisters convince her she must. So she shines the light on Cupid in the darkness. In the picture you can see her actually bringing a certain lightness to a sleeping Cupid.  Unfortunately Cupid becomes sadden that she did not trust her husband and leaves. I wish kids were told this story; it has such an amazing lesson behind it.

Now, just like Cinderella, Psyche has to sort of some sort of beans in order to see Cupid again because she did repent for her actions. Sadly, Venus doesn’t allow it because she is also filled with rage again.  Just as Cinderella picked from grain to meet the prince, so did Psyche. Here is where the story of comparison changes. As Psyche carries out tasks set by Venus to see Cupid, she foolishly opens a box from Persephone (goddess of the underworld for 3 months a year) and instantly falls asleep. Sounds familiar? This relates to Snow White’s slumber in Snow White. And just like the prince did, Cupid awakens Psyche and they live happily ever after for eternity.

 

 That’s the princess from The Frog King or Iron Heinrich.

 

 

Little Red and Granny

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CW-WubwkP1g/TViyhk1xk_I/AAAAAAAABUM/GGrYRN6Z_h4/s1600/littleredridinghood.jpgvl

This cartoon is obviously supposed to elicit a humorous chuckle out of whoever sees it. But is that all that it is really doing? I believe that this cartoon also wants to show the protective side of the grandma from the story Little Red Cap. Let’s go back into the story. In the beginning, the interdiction is addressed to the hero. It is said by the grandma and after that, we never hear of her again in the story. In this cartoon, it is apparent that she is still very much alive and warns the child again. This can also be seen as self-sacrificing because if Little Red took heed of her grandma’s 2nd warning (as portrayed in the cartoon) then she would be safe while the grandma forever lives in the big, bad wolf’s stomach.

I like this cartoon because it is funny and anyone can understand it. Because we read the story, the assumption that the grandma is actually in the wolf’s belly is correct. I also like it because it makes me wonder, what would happen next? If this was the real story, how would it end? I’d like to picture a few scenarios.

1.)    Little Red leaves the place and never visit Granny again.

2.)    She doesn’t listen and then Little Red and Granny both carry out a conversation while in the belly of the wolf…

I actually prefer scenario two more than one so I think I’ll spend my time drawing my own special ending for this.

Feminism in Snow White

Snow White is a doll and all girls should be like her, says the feminist Anne Sexton in her poem on Snow White.  Arguably, this read is far more interesting than the original story because there is an abundance of sarcasm and modern- day language. Anne Sexton shows us her point of view by indicating that women are brought up believing that they are inferior to the opposite sex. She blames fairy tales for this. I blame fairy tales for this as well. Her thoughts are very radical, but are able to be interpreted fairly easy with her simple prose and verses.

“No matter what life you lead

the virgin is a lovely number”

If we read into the poem even more, it is apparent that Snow White is depicted as a virgin not once, not twice, but three times in this fairy tale. Coincidence? I think not. Three is a typical fairy tale number full of magic and rainbows.  There is an emphasis placed on being virginally pure in both portrayals of Snow White. What I find interesting is the fact that Sexton tells us the story of Snow White in the same way that the Grimm Brothers do, but what is so special about it?

In the Grimm tales, Snow White is not realistic at all. If she was a person in real life, she would be a cardboard cutout. What Sexton does is give the story more depth. She does so by giving similes to compare Snow White too so that she can seem like an actual being, even though she is a doll. Sexton also compares pride as poison. “Pride pumped in her like poison.” This idea that being vain will ultimately result in death is apparent in both versions of Snow White. What I find interesting is the fact that Sexton does not drag out the story in the way the Grimm Brothers do it. She finds different aspects of Snow White to mention and does so. Is there a recreation of how Snow White’s mother dies or how she is even a princess? No there is not. This is because that sort of information isn’t necessary in order for us to understand that Snow White is just another fairy tale that gives little girls false hopes for the impending future.

 

Snow White

Snow White, Grimm version, is by far better than Walt Disney’s version. Unfortunately, this blog cannot be biased and say how amazing the original story is. Instead, I will compare the two versions (and contrast them), then you can be the judge on which is better.

          Let’s talk about the mother figures in both. The Grimm version incorporates both a biological mom who tragically dies and the step-mom who is worse than Death itself. The Disney version typically eliminates most of the beginning story line and starts off with, who we can assume, is a representation of both the evil queen and mother. What a combination!

          Picture the reddest, most succulent apple you can think of. Now imagine it brutally forcing someone to slumber with only one cure. Or should I say two? In the Grimm tale, the apple piece that Snow White eats is accidentally lodged out of her throat. Coincidentally, a prince is there upon her awakening. Disney chose to emphasize this prince character by conveniently placing him in the beginning of the movie. This may not be obvious, but the prince in both versions plays as an important role as the queen.Sno

          The dwarves in both versions are physically similar. They are small men; however, in the Grimm version, they are not given names and are only in the story to advance the plot. But, Disney changed this by giving them characteristic names. I think he does this to emphasize the importance of men, and also diminishes them by how they are portrayed.

          In order to talk about Snow White, we must also talk about Snow White herself. The Grimm version portrays her as a naïve 7 year old who is constantly being deceived by her step-mom while also always being saved by men in dangerous situations. The Disney version actually keeps this general depiction of Snow White the same.

I believe Disney made the changes it did to give America hope. The movie was released in 1937, but was created during the Great Depression. The evil queen is supposed to show that women can plan out what they want and also achieve it with determination. On the flip side of the story, men are supposed to be the heroes and saviors for women. Disney did this because, at the time, men felt despondent of their financial situation and Disney felt compelled to show them that things can change.

Personally, the stories are always better to me. There are never spontaneous songs,  or animals that can clean a house spotless. Although it is a fairy tale, the Grimm stories are far more realistic than Disney’s versions whether we can acknowledge that or not.

Cinderelly Cinderelly

Cinderella is an awful story with a terrible plot and unrealistic characters. And just like that sentence, the theme of “Rags to Riches” isn’t exactly portrayed without some sort of hyperbolic message. Cinderella is a classic tale in which a girl rises up from the ashes and into gold. Metaphorically of course. In order to understand this, I’ll provide a brief synopsis of the entire story.

  1. A young girl’s mom dies.
  2. Her dad remarries an awful woman with two kids.
  3. He forgets about the young girl called Cinderella.
  4. She wishes for fabulous things from birds in her backyard.
  5. She goes to a ball and because of these fabulous things a prince falls in love with her.
  6. They live happily ever after.

I don’t think Cinderella really is a “Rags to Riches” kind of story. It is absolutely unrealistic. At least in our society it is. There aren’t any princes waiting in America to carry beautiful girls to an enormous castle filled with treasures. I do think it is possible for people to rise up from their social class with hard work and determination, but there must be a transition phase. It cannot simply be “From Ashes to Gold,” or “From Bottom to Top.” Consequently, “From Grimm to Disney” is the same. There were many tales in between.   Then again, what is a fairy tale without some magic in it? I think it’s to give people something to cling on. I guess we can call it hope.

Earlier I mentioned that this motif in Cinderella is portrayed as an exaggeration. I’m sure there are many stories in America now where people were literally nothing, and now they are something. It has to do with a certain mindset to be something greater than you. Cinderella doesn’t really show that. Sure, the underlying storyline is “Work Hard & Reap Rewards,” but there isn’t much to go by.  This is reality. We can’t live in a fairy tale forever…

 

<– Realistic Cinderella  Unrealistic –> 

Hansel & Gretel

Hansel and Gretel is another Grimm tale that has been revised as an animated
film. The 1987 version of this was able to retell the tale, but also keep the original story
lines the same. Because Hansel and Gretel are full of symbolism, it’s important to note
that the film version kept those symbols in there. For example, the house made out of
bread was prevalent in the movie as well as the film. The bread crumbs that Hansel
uses to guide him and his sister back home is also there. It’s relevant because
according to Bettelheimm, the bread crumbs symbolizes Hansel’s lost of logic after
surviving one night out in the woods.

One thing the movie did differently is the mother. For whatever purposes the
director had, the mom is portrayed as an evil person, but her character has more depth
to it. She has a motive to be evil. Most films produced from the Grimm tales leave this
out which makes it easy for viewers to sympathize with the heroine. In Hansel and
Gretel’s case, the heroines.

What, Say You, Is a Fairy Tale?

More like what do I say is a fairy tale.  After being in From Grimm to Disney for 2 weeks I definitely have grown fond of the German term Märchen.  At a first glance, these stories can range from the basic structure: Hero faces a conflict then solves it and lives happily ever after, or it can be seen from many analytical approaches that lead to an ambiguous definition of a true Märchen.  In order to define a Fairy tale, we have to look at both well-known aspects of said word. To do this, I’ve composed a helpful T-Chart that I will fill in as the class goes on.

Grimm Version                                                                             vs.                                                                               Disney Version

  • Male Dominance                                                                                                                                                         Female Emphasis
  • No Names                                                                                                                                                          Proper Nouns are used

 

It’s important to note that fairy tales are often told in the Zeitgeist of the time. That is, they are often recreated to fit society at the time.  Fairy tales have no sense in time. This brings up the idea that they live in a “Faërie” realm. The characters remain isolated in their world which Zipes suggest is a world in miniature because all aspects of society is there, plus a bit of enchantment. That’s another thing. You cannot have a fairy tale without some sort of magic/enchantment. It’s there to make you believe and hope for things like that, but in reality, we know there is no such thing. Right?
After reading ahead, I’ve noticed that these tales are always told by an omnipresent being that is able to see all that is happening in the fairy tale. This is the third person.  A theory I have on this is because fairy tales were an oral tradition and being a storyteller automatically makes you the third person.  Sometimes the storyteller will address his or herself as he/she did in “Hansel and Gretel”, other times he/she will not.
All fairy tales have motifs in them. This is just another word for a common theme surrounding the story. Think about it. If these tales didn’t have something in common, then the isolated characters will not have a storyline at all. I definitely find it interesting how the definition for a fairy tale has been misconstrued by many Americans because there is the Walt Disney version as opposed to the original Grimm Brothers’ Tales.  The T-Chart above will help us to further understand how fairy tales have been viewed since long over 2 centuries ago.