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Children’s stories are often written about growing up or appreciating the joy of being a kid. These stories consist of characters that children can easily relate to and offer the road to exciting adventures. The main character has a personality very similar to the young readers. They have childlike qualities that are enchanting, lovable, curious and especially adventurous. The protagonist encounters individuals on his adventures, which have specific characteristics that mirror the traits of the main character. The reader may also boast these same characteristics, which guides the reader to understand the conflicts they may encounter in life. These dominant traits are very simple to spot and are used to create powerful images and send influential messages of morality either directly or indirectly to the young readers. Each character symbolizes a specific temptation or obstacle a child must take in order to grow into a good and moral adult. In the two stories of The Little Prince by Saint-Exupery and Pinocchio by Collodi, the authors effectively illustrate how important it is to learn self-discipline as a child even when it is so easy to get caught up in the moment and lose sight of the big picture. Through the effective character personality traits and their captivating adventures the child stays attentive and retains the moral lesson the author is attempting to convey.
Pinocchio and the Little Prince are very similar characters. They are exciting, curious and adventurous and are both striving towards a particular goal. Pinocchio wants to become a boy and must abide by certain conditions before his ultimate goal can be reached. The Little Prince is on an exciting adventure, just like children going through life. He decided to leave the safety of his planet and travel the universe. After many encounters with the adult world, he realizes that his small world is where he belongs. Children can easily draw a parallel since they are often yearning to become adults and don’t realize how complicated and confusing it can be. Pinocchio, the Little Prince and other children must first learn to overcome many temptations and obstacles through self-discipline and education before this final destination can be achieved.
Through effective characterization, Collodi and St. Exupery have developed each of the characters the boys meet with one dominant corrupt characteristic that children face in life. They must face each character and then discipline themselves to turn away and continue on their journey. Pinocchio’s vulnerability to authority is portrayed through his first test of self discipline when he meets Fire-eater and his marionettes. Fire-eater was a big and ugly man who was an authoritative figure of which the marionettes where all afraid of. Pinocchio was afraid at first but when he realized that the man had a compassionate side he felt courageous and realized that he could face him. Only then could he go on home and continue on with his life adventures. In the story of the Little Prince he encounters a fox and a snake. Traditionally a fox is seen to be a sly creature however, in this case he was lonely and just wanted to be loved. The little Prince was also in need of this, just like children. The Prince learned lessons of patience and routine when he was taught to tame the fox. The snake is usually recognized as an evil creature, however he was beneficial to the Prince considering it was his means of returning home. Since the narrator of the story saw the snake as an evil and dangerous creature, he automatically jumped to conclusions and assumed that the Prince was in jeopardy. Through these three distinctive characters, the young readers learn the important lesson of not judging a book by its cover.
From these stories children also learn that routine in everyday life can be good to an extent and bad when it overwhelms your life. When the little Prince meets the fox, routine is good since it tames the animal. Pinocchio demonstrated the importance of routine in education, however in the case of the Little Prince’s lamplighter, routine invaded his life. The lamplighter spent every minute of every day stuck in the same routine with no way of escaping. Pinocchio and Candlewick’s trip to the Land of Toys demonstrated how complete lack of routine in one’s life turns a child into an animal.
St. Exupery and Collodi demonstrate effecitve undesirable characteristics in the Pinocchio’s fox and cat, and the Little Prince’s King, conceited man, businessman, drinker and geographer. The fox and the cat demonstrated the evil aspects of greed. This corrupt behaviour caused physical and psychological damage to these two characters. This lesson forewarns children by alluding to the proverbs, “Stolen money never bears fruit”(Collodi 42) and “Whoever steals his neighbor’s shirt dies without his own.”(Collodi 42)
The characters the little Prince met along the way were all caught up in the one characteristic that engulfed their lives. The King was a man that could not exist without subjects and since he had none he had a kind of illusionary power which had no purpose or meaning. The conceited man was so involved with his own arrogance and only existed when there were admirers. As the Prince pointed out, to others constant self-admiration is extremely monotonous and this egotism quickly loses company. The drinker was lost in a depressive circular reasoning which obviously lead to a snowball effect and was clearly leading to a life of misery and pain. The businessman, like many adults, was so occupied with his wealth that he had no time to enjoy it. He, like the drunkard, was also stuck in a circular reasoning. As soon as he had money he could use it to make more money which he used to make more money and on it goes. The little Prince then met with the geographer who was so caught up in other people’s experiences and had no time for his own. He relates to a kind of gossip since he involves himself with everyone else’s business and doesn’t pay attention to which he has become. All these characters show typical characteristics of adults that children should keep in mind. This kind of characterization helps children realize that possessing these characteristics are undesirable and if they overwhelm your life you will live alone in your own little world.
These kinds of stories don’t only characterize the unpleasant characteristics but also the good things children are made up of. Through Geppetto and the blue fairy, Pinocchio demonstrates his need for family. Geppetto was his creator and the father figure and the blue fairy symbolized the need for a mother. The fairy appears every time Pinocchio is in trouble and is veering off the path to being a real boy. Like a mother, she is always watching out for Pinocchio and is always ready to guide him when he demonstrates poor judgement. In The Little Prince and Pinocchio the authors have taken the voice of the child’s soul and placed it in a character. Pinocchio’s conscience is evident in the cricket. He appears just before he is about to make the wrong choice and serves as the true voice of reason to Pinocchio’s confusion and indecisiveness. The Little Prince’s soul rests in his home planet through the rose. Like the Prince, the rose is delicate and needs protection from outside dangers. Her roots are planted at home and she is in need of constant care.
Dynamic characterization of Pinocchio and the Little Prince, as well as minor characters in the story, have created an exciting adventure for children. These stories keep the reader interested and begging for more even though they are essentially educational readings. By using minor characters to exemplify the complexity of the main character, the authors were able to deliver many powerful messages of morality and help children understand the complexities growing up.
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