How do cultural codes common to myth and fairytale help the reader to understand the story? What fairytales (e.g. Cinderella) relate to this story and how?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't agree with the premise that this story contains elements of myth and fairytale. Oates wrote this story after reading about a series of murders of young girls in Arizona, and did not create it out of the air.

Myth is defined as

a legendary or traditional story, usually one concerning a superhuman being and dealing with events that have no natural explanation.... It usually attempts to explain a phenomenon or strange occurrence without regard to fact or common sense and appeals to the emotions rather than reason.

If you hold to this description, then you cannot call Oates's story a myth because it is based in fact.

Common elements of fairytales include:

    • set in the past; may be presented as historical
    • do not need to include fairies
    • fantasy, supernatural, or make-believe aspects
    • clearly defined good and evil characters
    • magic
    • objects, people, or events in threes
    • a problem or conflict that needs to be solved
    • happy endings, based on the resolution of the conflict or problem
    • usually teach a lesson or demonstrate values important to the culture

You can say that this story does have clearly defined good and evil characters. However, the problem is resolved negatively, and there is no happy ending. If it teaches a lesson, it is that bad things can happen to anybody.

The story does contain religious imagery, but I would classify  that as "myth."

lklibingat | Student

actually, i just found a casebook of readings in my english book that pertains to my own questions. It says:
"Connie represents an entire generation of young people who have grown up-or tried to- without the help of those bedtime stories which not only entertain the child, but enable him vicariously to experience and work through problems which he will encounter in adolescence. The only "stories" Connie knows are those of the sexually provocatve but superficial lyrics of the popular songs she loves or of the equally insubstantial movies she attends. Such songs and movies povide either no models of behavior for her to imitate or dangerously innapropriate ones. connie has thus ben led to believe that life and, in particular songs, love will be 'sweet, gentle, the way it was in the movies and promised in songs." She has no idea that life actually can be just a grim as in folk fairy tales.

It also states that the story is "woven into the complex texture of The Spirit in the Bottle, Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and The Three Little Pigs. The Pied Piper of Hamelin is just a "frame device" that contains all the other tales.

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