Cinderella #352 Cinderella in China
|These fish are so beautiful! I love the|
color of the green water. It is a photograph
that I cut from the SF Chronicle. (with scissors; it has been on my bulletin board
for a year.) I think these are trout. Or are they salmon?
Once upon a time, there was a man named Alan Dundes. He edited a very famous book analyzing Cinderella stories from all over the world. This is what he had to say about "Cinderella in China". It is important to get story versions "from every single part of the world where a particular text exists", so that all may be compared across themes, symbols, and characters. It's prudent "before we become lost in the mists of controversy,to examine a particular series of stories"to see how they fit into the greater body of that story. Distilled from "the several thousand variants, written and oral, many of which friends" gave him, the Chinese Cinderella (CC) tale runs like this:
"Once upon a time, there was a little girl who suffered. Her sufferings were various and terrible." Often, a stepmother who is actually an impostor (not a wife but a witch) forces her to do impossible tasks and beats her for failing. Even her father abuses her and misunderstands her. Occasionally, Chinese Cinderella, "disgusted by the exaggerations of her sisters, tells him that she loves him like salt". Even though "everyone knows that [salt] is necessary to happiness", her father still "banishes her or attempts to have her killed". But the worst kind of suffering for CC is incestual. As in Catskins, sometimes her father desires her sexually. CC "tests this love by demanding that he give her three of the most beautiful dresses." Often these are the colors of the moon, the sun, and the sky at dawn. Ultimately, she is left alone, often in the wilderness, with little means of survival. But, as in Cinderella stories everywhere, her animal helpers save the day, and tress play a significant role. "A tree on her mother's grave or animals of the sky, land, and water, give her advice and pretty clothes." Thus, she not only survives, but thrives. A young prince spies her, and is captivated by her beauty. But "our little friend is no brazen hussy, nor have her sufferings made her bold and gasping." When they meet at the festival, fate intervenes. "She flees. He finds her slipper. Her writes a proclamation. He is undeterred by the schemes of the wicked sisters....They are married."
From: Dundes, A. (1986) Cinderella: A Casebook. (p.73) New York: Wildman Press
Notes: This book is one of those which actually feel physically good in the hand. There is no comparison with a paperback, or a cheaply printed modern book. Even though 1983 wasn't that long ago (it actually wasn't!)the book has a quaint feeling to it. Ironically, the M. R. Cox book that I have is a lavender paperback with microscopic print, a true headache to read .Oh, for an 1893 copy!