Over the winter break I came across a little bilingual edition of selected stories from the Brothers Grimm. I've been using it for my subway reading as a way to try to learn to read some German. I started with Hansel and Gretel, as it's a familiar story. Or so I thought. Truth be told, it's a rather macabre and depressing business. Not the least trouble is my nagging suspicion that the stepmother and the witch might be the same person, given that mom is announced to be (conveniently) dead after the children return home from Gretel having cooked up the witch in the oven.
However, certain lessons are to be learned from the glorious maladventure of these poor children. For example:
Grownups are not be trusted.
Even the good ones can be nagged and convinced to do horrible things to you.
It's a good idea to eavesdrop on those who are discussing what to do about you.
Make sure nobody locks you in the house.
Faced with mortal crisis, it is important to encourage one another, pray to God, and not to lose heart.
Sometimes sweet things are a trap.
People don't give you pancakes with milk, sugar, and nuts for no reason.
Witches can be recognized by their red eyes. Remember also that they can't see very far, but have a heightened sense of smell, like an animal.
It's not only acceptable to trick and kill those who enslave and try to kill you, it's a moral imperative.
Passive aggression and playing dumb can be powerful weapons in the hands of oppressed persons.
Don't be afraid to ask for help, even if it seems like an unlikely source. (i.e. the duck at the river)
Money fixes problems.
Deaths in families necessitate the reconfiguration of all other relationships.