What is the purpose of Tales? What is the core essence of stories, folklore’s in our society? Go on a journey with me. It’s a cold stormy night. The winds are howling, the trees groaning, the window shivering and your mouth rattling. Your three and half feet body tucked in your duvet, your father is by your bed and he is reading to you “Go the F*ck to Sleep” ““ A Child your age but 7 inches shorter, in a small village on the notorious hills of Africa is sitting by the Town Fire, armed with his arm as the machine rumble warns of the scourge of mosquito’s attack while listening to his Great grandfather, Papa’s nightly folk tales. Everyone is quiet but the murmurs of the elders’ debate, carried by the silent breeze, and Papa’s alluring voice. The child knows that The Tortoise will have its calabash on its back broken and will hear his Papa’s thinned trombone attempt a shattering noise. Yet, he is still in awe at Tortoise’s naivety ““ Her hair is wrapped in a scarf, her skirt sweeping the grounds. The heat is brewing sweat from her Innocence and Pit. She squirms. Her Mother pinches her. The priest is tall and stern. He is doing something, speaking words; her mother calls it the “Liturgy of the Word”. She has to listen. Or at least pretend to listen. She is bored. But she has heard it is the only way she will escape the eternal source of heat.
The nature of a story or tale is quite indicative of the culture it stems from. The purpose of these tales, however, in my opinion is easily debatable as it is dependent on our perception of the author(s) and the audience it is aimed at. Let’s take a moment and be critical of the stories and tales that defined the innocence of our childhood and consequently shaped our person today. The African child is probably going to believe for the rest of his life that the Tortoise shell is a broken calabash glued together. The girl in church is probably going to believe for the rest of her life that to avoid hell she must abide to the rituals the church has enumerated for her. This will be the case until either one or both of them decides to question their beliefs and search for other truths. What does this say to you about the tales coined by cultural beliefs, and how they will forever define these children’s perception of their world or perhaps later, their perception of their culture?
Often times, people tend to point fingers and judge the nature ““ mythical, religious etc ““ of other stories when it appears illogical in their eyes, and occasionally we find ourselves doing the same and it might appear trivial, but do we ever think how ridiculous our belief in these stories might appear to other people of opposing views? In all honesty, we probably don’t care, we shouldn’t care. Or should we? At least to the extent that it should make us question the legitimacy, integrity and purpose of these very “innocent” stories we are exposed to. This is where my presentation will argue that folk tales and stories are a subtle form of propaganda with which cultures use to successfully indoctrinate children, shaping their perception and definition of truth.
Byatt’s representation of tales through the character Christabel LaMotte’s work ““ The Glass Coffin, The Threshold, and The Fairy Melusine PROEM ““ and subtly in The Correspondence coupled with the use of the Narrative Theory will be used to explore and develop my argument. The Narrative theory explains that there are common elements and features in all forms of narratives (bedtime stories, folktales etc) that represent human experiences and the many interpretations that can be associated by the audience to a narrative. Examination of some common folklore in different cultures across the world, its effects and influence on the general perception of the society will also be a part of my presentation.
“˜Such Tales men tell and have told ““ they do not differ, save in emphasis, here and there.’ (Byatt 160)
As angels descending from the sky,
He lit the children’s’ heart with a story at night,
And I thought to myself how joyous to watch a male,
Beam and tell to young hearts a tale.
He started with a lullaby as always,
To put their hearts to a melody,
Encouraging the eyelids to sway,
And putting a thought of ruse in an innocent felony.
He talked, boomed, cackled and sang into the night,
My heart engrossed in his tale of all heights,
Telling myself, ‘such anecdote’,
And for my depression, a soothing antidote.
His fluent growl in his melodious speech,
Bewitched even the young hearts of the kids,
But awed by his tale-teach,
Gently, in harmony, I closed my eyelids.