I didn't really see a problem with that, but it was obvious from her expression that it was a problem.
Students are working along themes in her drawing class this year, and while others have picked serious issues--drug abuse, war, etc.--as a theme for their projects, Marina chose fairy tales. In particular, she is basing all of her work on the tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." The class started bringing in their various projects, and if my daughter is anything like me (she is), she is comparing her work to others.
She complained to me that she doesn't really want to do a "serious" theme. She doesn't want to be depressed by her work. I understand that. I'm an optimist at heart. I also understand that the world doesn't always take it's lighthearted artists...um...seriously. And that's a shame.
Marina knows stories. I mean, she really knows stories. I've heard her chatter away about one tale or another as if she had just put the book down. She relates to life through storytelling.
And that is my point. It's true, fairy tales do tend to have happy endings. They were told through dark times, when poverty, plague, famine and war made death a common sight. But escapism is only part of what these stories are. Think about it. Things are never easy for the hero or heroine. If you read the classic tales of the Brothers Grimm, you will notice that the protagonist must go through great trials to reach their goals. It isn't simply Cinderella working as a servant for her stepmother. There are beatings, betrothals to cannibalistic robbers, friends and family are killed, spirited away or transformed into beasts. The protagonist might lose a limb or get swallowed whole. Things appear so bleak the audience is almost left in despair.
But then it gets better.
Our issues are nothing new. We may have different names for the plagues, and new ways to fight the wars, but not much else has changed. Human suffering is a condition of life. What our fairy tales tell us is that someone understands our trials, someone knows how hard it's been. They comfort us and remind us that we must never give up.
Our stories give us hope.
I think that's a nice thing to have.
"...I realized this was 'the sad part.' I repeated this to myself again and again, to try to make it not feel so terrible.
But it didn't help. It never does. It still hurts when a character you love dies, and another is left all alone in the world.
Nevertheless, I will tell you, as I always tell myself, that things will get better. Much, much better. I promise." ~A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz