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Why does Cinderella's shoe always fall off, if it was created to fit to her foot?

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Philip Arrington eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the story of Cinderella, a young woman who has lost her parents is forced to live with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters. After Cinderella is left behind while the others go to the Prince's ball, her fairy godmother fashions a wonderful gown and glass slippers for her along with a carriage and attendants to take her to the palace. However, the stipulation is that she must leave before midnight or all the magical changes will go back to the way they were. Cinderella and the Prince are attracted to each other, but the clock begins to strike midnight so Cinderella is forced to flee. On the way out, one of her slippers falls off, and the slipper is the means by which the Prince is able to search for her and find her.

Your objection to the slipper falling off is valid. If the slippers are magical and created especially for Cinderella, they should not have fallen off at all. Alternatively, if they were hard and slippery because they are made of glass, it makes more sense that both of them would fall off when she starts to run and not just one. Additionally, since they are made of glass, we might ask why they don't break when she tries to run in them.

In fact, there is no logical reason why one slipper falls off when Cinderella runs away. This is a plot device, also known as a plot mechanism, which can be defined as an object, character, or technique whose sole purpose is to drive the plot forward. If Cinderella does not lose her slipper, the Prince cannot find her, and so losing the slipper, however snugly it might have fit, is necessary in order to take the next step in the story. Since losing the slipper is so integral to the plot of the Cinderella story, most people don't even question it. It is interesting that you have done so, but within the logic of the story, there is no other explanation for it.

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ophelious eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is an interesting question and could have several different answers:

  1. The Fairy Godmother who created the shoe incorrectly sized it.  It's possible.  She was old.
  2. The glass slipper, though referred to as "glass," may have actually been another see-through material that expanded (or stretched) over the course of the night when the heat from Cinderella's foot was applied to it.  This makes sense because a true "glass slipper" more than likely would have cracked at some point in the evening, mauling her foot.
  3. As she danced, Cinderella's foot got sweaty, providing lubrication, and while running her fit simply came out.  She was likely barefoot in the slipper, so this makes sense.
  4. The Fairy Godmother designed the shoe to come off at the critical moment.  In her wisdom it was planned all along so that the prince would have something to track her by.
  5. Cinderella may have wanted to lose the shoe herself as a way for the prince to find her.

These are my guesses.

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irha-nadeem | Student

Thanks. I guess last point is the best. HMM.. CLEVER CINDERELLA.