What does the boy symbolize in once upon a time?

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The couple's son in "Once upon a Time" can represent at least three concepts: He can represent the future; he can stand for the importance of relationships over material goods; and he can portray a Christ-figure. As the only child of the "man and his wife who loved each other...

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The couple's son in "Once upon a Time" can represent at least three concepts: He can represent the future; he can stand for the importance of relationships over material goods; and he can portray a Christ-figure. As the only child of the "man and his wife who loved each other and were living happily ever after," the boy represents the "ever after." He is the next generation that will continue when the couple ages and dies. By giving way to their fear and prejudice, the couple ends up destroying their future happiness.

In the fairy tale, the couple is obsessed with insuring their material wealth against loss. It is because riot cannot be insured against that they take increasingly drastic measures to prevent theft from the "people of another color." Although in the beginning of the story they have put up a wall around their swimming pool to protect their son from drowning, later they ignore the potential hazard of their protective fence because they have allowed their concern for preserving their wealth and position in society to override their concern for the things that truly matter in life: love, relationships, and giving. The focus on material things rather than relationships results in the tragedy.

In a sense, the little boy is a Christ-figure. He is innocent and pure, displaying none of the fear and prejudice his parents show. His goal is to brave "the terrible thicket of thorns to enter the palace and kiss the Sleeping Beauty back to life." He is the person who displays courage rather than fear and love rather than racism. He receives the deadly wounds in his hands and head at the hands of "sinners"--his parents, who have succumbed to the darkness of the "wise old witch." One can speculate that the tragedy of his death will bring redemption to his parents as they consider the consequences of their fear and prejudice. 

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