"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Orphans in Folklore--A Comparative Study

At some point we have all felt isolated or alone. For some of us, this thought is fleeting while for others it is a fact of life. . .at least until we discover our families.

It is not surprising that folklore has reflected these feelings.

MyLinda Butterworth, dear friend from East Tennessee State University Storytelling Master's Program, emailed me a link to the article "From Folktales to Fiction: Orphan Characters in Children's Literature" published by Melanie A. Kimball through Library Trends of the Winter 1999 edition. The bibliography alone is worth the read, though this comparative study also shares the patterns found among orphan tales.

Kimball stated that the orphan is the "quintessential outcast, operates in isolation, and thus makes the perfect hero figure."

The orphan is many times the victim of hostile actions from verbal abuse, physical abuse, emotional trauma, and even treat of death. Fortunately, any mistreatment usually is answered by punishment for the offender.

In the meantime of having justice, the orphan is forced to face obstacles alone without having a family member to say, "Come with me." or "Things will be all right." Although, the spirit of the dead mother, which embodies the essence of love, provides some form of supernatural help.

Kimball observed that instead of the orphan leaving home to become independent, the orphan is "finding a home after coming from nothing."

Much more was shared by Kimball's article and I encourage you to read it. As for me, I will review the bibliography and see what books can help in research for the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" narrative production.

Thank you, MyLinda, for the lead!

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

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