Sunday, August 8, 2010

Guest Post: Thoughts on the character of the old lady from "Babar"

The Story of Babar (Babar Books (Random House))

There are different portions of the storybook Babar that are at the same time simple and complex. The character that I choose to illustrate my point through is the Old Lady.

The Old Lady randomly gives Babar her purse, without knowing him. After furnishing himself quite nicely at a department store, being accompanied by a floorwalker after an escape on the elevators, Babar joins the Old Lady at her mansion.

He joins her in what some could find as trifling matters: setting up exercises, visiting in the ballroom, etc. These things tire out our main character, Babar, to the point that he must retire to an uninterupted sleep - suggesting a similar experience being shared by the Old Lady.

The Old Lady, we come to find, has also given her car to Babar to drive everyday.

All in all, the Old Lady seems to be an enabler of non-domesticated animals, taking them in and giving a more 'proper' upbringing. There are more comments to be made on the aim of the author here, but one can be appreciative of the Old Lady for rescuing poor Babar from the wicked hunters. For example, If one can remember the opening pages with the portrait of the dead mother, we could see the Old Lady's treatment of Babar as off-setting the difficulty of his childhood. For now, let this one example suffice.

Let me close by offering a suggestion at the overall treatment of Babar and his upbringing in the forest, his domestication in the city, and his ensuing return to the forest for his coronation. Having now read Babar every night for several weeks, I have been afforded a unique perspective furnished by repetition. When approaching Babar's coronation - I continue to ask, ' Has he been groomed for this moment by the Old Lady?' ' What is the author suggesting by this sequence of events? ' The non-city dwelling animals do not bat an eye at the suggestion of Cornelius that Babar be made king. Taking his liberties, Babar joins Celeste to himself, Celeste who also has spent time in the city eating pastries and enjoying other activities.

I make this blog post having not read the extant literature on Babar, authorial intent, or scholarly reviews. So let grace be extended for any postulation that has previously been posted on the topic, but could Babar represent colonialism or imperialism in some way? A further question to consider for the future is the combining of roles sacred and secular in Babar's appointment of Cornelius as both general and officiant at the wedding. With all of these questions up in the air, we can rest assured in Babar's good heart; we see this in his offer of his derby hat to Cornelius when Babar's crown arrives:)


c said...

yep. french colonialism. who knew.

Tiffany Dawn said...

i think JO should have his own blog filled with posts like this! I like your view on things friend!! Its definitely unique and thought provoking!

Katie - a Blessed Mommy! said...

Christy -
Your children are so cute!!! Just saw your comment on our blog & we would LOVE to have you run as a part of Will's team! Be sure to check our race blog for info (I just posted pre-party info) & to get a shirt (shirts will be avail this fall....)
Hopefully I'll see you in Dallas sometime this fall when we are making the rounds of various hospitals!
Love, Katie