STARTING TIME: April 3, 2000, 1:30 p.m. DURATION: 3 HRS
DEPARTMENT, COURSE NO. & SEC. NO.: English 17: 2114/3-002
COURSE TITLE: Fairy Tales, Mythology, and Poetry for Children
EXAMINER: Perry Nodelman
This examination consists of two sequential parts:
The evaluation of this examination will take into account your mastery of the skills and strategies developed throughout the course--not only your knowledge of the material and the persuasiveness and richness of your opinions, but also, your ability to develop deeper understanding and enjoyment through exploratory writing and through discussion of your ideas with others.
You may bring texts and notes with you into the examination room.
This examination accounts for 30% of your final mark for the course.
1: READING AND DISCUSSION (1 1/2 hours)
Once there was a king and a queen, and the king had a daughter, and the queen had one too. The king's daughter was Anne, and the queen's daughter was Kate. And though they weren't related to each other by blood, the two girls loved each other dearly, and called each other sister. But the queen seethed in secret rage, because the king's daughter Anne was so beautiful that she made her own daughter Kate seem plain in comparison, and everyone in the kingdom admired Anne and ignored Kate, and the Queen could not bear it. So the Queen went on a secret visit to the wise woman who lived in the forest nearby, and asked her for a way to spoil Anne's beauty.
"Aye, your majesty, I can help you," said the wise woman. "For a price, of course. Just send her to me in the morning."
In the morning, the queen told Anne to go to the wise woman to get something important she'd arranged for, and being a good girl and a kind girl, Anne went, stopping only to take a piece of bread to eat on the way. When she asked the wise woman for what the queen wanted, the wise woman said, "Lift the lid from that pot on the stove, and you'll get it." So Anne went to the stove and lifted the lid--and nothing come out but an evil smell. "Hmph," said the wise woman angrily. "Go back to the palace, and tell the queen to keep her pantry locked."
Well, when the queen heard this, she knew that Anne must have spoiled the charm. So she had a lock put on the pantry, and hid the key, and the next morning, she sent Anne off again: and Anne left the house with an empty stomach. But being a friendly girl and a kind one, she stopped on her way through the garden to say hello to the gardener, and the gardener gave her a handful of the tender young peas he was picking to munch on the way. And when she got to the wise woman's house, everything happened just as before.
On the third morning, the queen went all the way down to the castle gate with Anne, just to be sure that she didn't eat anything before she got to the wise woman's house. And so this time, when Anne lifted the lid of the pot, the spell worked. Off fell her pretty face, into the pot, and then out of the pot arose a sheep's head, and it fastened itself to her neck.
When the queen looked out her window and saw Anne coming back and looking so sheepish, she laughed out loud in delight. And she called Kate to her, and said, "Look at your sister! Now you are the prettiest by far!"
But Kate was a clever girl and a kind one, and she was not pleased. She left her mother without saying a word, and ran down to Anne, and wrapped her sister's head in a fine linen cloth, and took her by the hand, and they went out into the world together to seek their fortunes. And the queen never saw them again.
Anne and Kate walked far and far, farther than I can tell, and they had no roof but the sky and nothing to eat but the berries that grew by the side of the road and the nuts that Kate gathered and cracked as they went along. Finally, after many a weary day, the road brought them to a tall castle. Kate knocked at the door, and begged a night's lodging for herself and her sister. And the people of that castle were so courteous that they offered the lodging and said nothing about Anne's covered head.
Now the king and queen of that country had two sons, and the elder of them was ill with a strange, wasting illness. Though he ate heartily, and though he slept the night through, yet every morning he was more thin and more pale than he'd been the evening before. Something was happening to him in the night, something that was stealing the very life from him, but nobody knew what it was. The king had offered a barrel of gold to anyone who would sit up with his son and find out what ailed him, and many and many had tried. But all had failed. All had fallen into a heavy sleep no matter how hard they tried not to, and then woke in the morn to find a pale and weary prince and no hope of gold.
Well, Kate was a clever girl and a brave girl, and she thought she might as well take her chance and sit up with the prince. But instead of going into his room at bedtime and sitting beside his bed as all the others had, she snuck into the room early in the evening before the prince came to bed, and she hid herself behind a curtain where no one could see her or know she was there, and she waited to see what would happen.
All was quiet--until midnight. On the last stroke of twelve, the prince suddenly arose, and dressed himself, and went downstairs. He moved as if in a dream, and he didn't even notice Kate following along after him. He went straight down to the stables, saddled his horse, and mounted. Kate leaped up behind him, and still he didn't notice her. Away went the horse with the prince and Kate, galloping through the greenwood where the nuts were ripe. And as they passed under the trees, Kate picked the nuts and filled her apron with them, for she was a clever girl and a careful one, and she didn't know when they might need food or even when they might come back again.
On and on they rode, until they came to a green hill in the middle of the wild. Then the prince pulled on his reins and spoke for the first time. "Open," he said in a strange loud voice. "Open, green hill, and let in the young prince!"
And Kate added, "And his lady behind him."
And the hill opened, and they rode right into a great hall filled with bright light that seemed to come from nowhere, and there was a strange music playing. Kate slipped down off the horse, and hid herself behind the door, and watched as the prince was surrounded by fairy ladies, tiny creatures in beautiful gowns, who led him off to dance. All night as Kate cracked nuts and ate and watched, the prince danced, first with one tiny lady and then with another, and though he looked worn and weary he never stopped dancing, never for a moment. And he danced as if in a dream, his eyes fixed on nothing as the strange music played.
At last the cock crew, and the prince leaped back onto his horse, and Kate leaped up behind him, and they rode home, where the prince lay down in his bed paler and more ill than before.
In the morning, the king asked Kate what she had seen. But Kate was a clever girl and a brave girl, and she would say nothing, and asked only to try once more. And the king said she could.
The next night when the clock struck twelve, all happened just as before; and once more Kate rode through the forest behind the prince picking nuts, and into the green hill. This time, though, she didn't just watch the dancing. She crept through the shadows to near where some of the fairy folk were sitting together, along with a fairy child who was playing with a wand, to hear what she could hear.
"What news of the world above?" said one.
"No news," said the other, "but that a sad lady who hides her face has come to stay in the castle. And no wonder--she has a sheep's head on her shoulders!"
"Is that so?" said the first, cackling. "I'd like to see that, I would. And she doesn't even know that three strokes of that very wand would make her as fair as ever she was!" And the fairies laughed uproariously.
Well, Kate knew she must have that wand. She took some nuts from her apron and, when the older fairies turned away, she rolled them across the floor toward the child. Delighted, the child dropped the wand as it ran after the nuts, and Kate snatched the wand up and put it in her apron, and then stood in the shadows and hummed along with the music as the child happily munched the nuts. At cockcrow, Kate and the prince rode home as before, and as the prince lay down to sleep looking weary and ill unto death, Kate ran to the room where her sister Anne slept. She tapped her three times with the wand, and the sheep's head jumped off and rolled away, and Anne had her own pretty head back again. Then Kate helped Anne dress herself and brought her to the great hall of the castle, where all welcomed her, and gazed with pleasure on her beautiful face. And the king's younger son couldn't take his eyes off her, and thought that he had never seen anyone sweeter and prettier in his life. And Anne beamed with happiness, and so did Kate.
Once more, the king asked Kate what she had seen. But Kate was a clever girl and a brave girl, and she would say nothing, and asked only to try once more. And the king said she could.
On the third night, all happened as before. Kate watched the sleeping prince, and picked nuts as she rode behind him into the hill, and listened to the talk of the fairy people. But now the little child was playing with a yellow bird.
"What news of the world above?" said one fairy to the other as the bird chirped in the baby's hand.
"No news," said the other, "but that the king and queen are at their wits' end to know what ails their eldest son."
"Is that so?" said the first fairy, laughing. "I'm so glad to hear it! Soon the human prince will die! And they'll never know that just three bites of that birdie of the child's would free him from the spell and make him as well as he ever was!"
So Kate knew she must have the yellow birdie. Once more she rolled nuts to the child, until he ran after them and dropped the birdie, and Kate caught it up as it flew and put it in her apron. And then she stood in the darkness and danced by herself as the child happily munched the nuts.
At cockcrow Kate and the prince set off for home again, and as soon as they got there, Kate leaped from the horse, and rushed to the kitchen, and plucked and cooked the yellow birdie until it was done to a turn, and then she took it to the prince. He was lying in his bed more dead than alive, as white as white can be; but when he smelled the dish he opened his eyes and said, "Oh, what a heavenly smell! I wish I had a bite of that birdie!" So Kate gave him a bite, and he rose up on his elbow and smiled wanly at her.
By and by he cried out again. "Oh, the smell, the wonderful smell! If only I had another bite of that birdie!" Then Kate gave him another bite, and the prince sat up in bed and his smile was broad, and he gazed into her eyes until she blushed and looked down to the floor. Then he said again, "Oh, if I had yet another bite of that birdie!" Kate gave him a third bite, and he jumped right out of bed, well and strong again, and leaped with joy around the room, and flashed his brilliant white teeth at Kate. And then Kate told him all that had passed, and he marvelled at her words. And they stayed there together till the sun was high up in the sky, until the people of the castle grew so worried that they knocked the door to the prince's room down and came in and found Kate and the prince contentedly cracking nuts together.
So Kate had her barrel of gold, and it was the least part of her joy. She soon married the king's eldest son, and Anne married his brother, and they all lived happily together in that castle forever after.
"Kate Crackernuts" is a story from the oral tradition of the British Isles. The version collected by a folklorist (and first published in 1890) is in a thick dialect; like most fairy tales for children, the story you have here is a rewritten version.
Read "Kate Crackernuts" (ideally by choosing a member of your group to read it aloud to the rest of you). Then explore how you might develop a deeper understanding of it by considering it in terms of the contexts provided by this course. "Contexts" might include any of the following: specific reading strategies (such as oral performance, story patterns, gap-filling, or consistency-building); other specific texts we studied (such as "Cinderella" or Ella Enchanted); specific theoretical approaches or ideas (such as considering Jungean archetypes); specific aspects of historical or cultural background, including the history of fairy tales and assumptions about childhood; specific ideological considerations (construction of subject positions, depictions of women, etc.); considerations of genre, such as characteristics of fairy tales or of children's literature in general; or teaching children literature. Don't feel you have to cover all these different topics in your discussion: focus on the ones that seem most productive to members of the group.
2: WRITING (1 1/2 hours)