Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Caring fathers

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge! My theme this year is Representation and Diversity in Traditional Stories. I am looking for rare and interesting motifs in folktales, fairy tales, and legends that add variety to the well-known canon.

While the most common complaints are aimed at evil (step)mothers in fairy tales, almost as many people protest absentee or abusive fathers as well. Caring, involved, likable father figures are a very important part of representation, and they seem to be somewhat lacking in tradition.
Not completely, though.

Zal and Rostam
The Persian legend of Zal wins at a lot of things - fatherhood among them. Zal does not only help his wife deliver their son (by C-section none the less), but also follows along the hero's entire journey giving him advice, support, and care.
(The legend of Zal is part of the Shahnameh, I recommend this edition)

Fionn Mac Cumhaill, Oisín, and Oscar
At the heart of the Irish legends of the Fianna there are three generations of men who do fatherhood right. Fionn raises Oisín alone after his wife is kidnapped; Oisín is usually shown raising Oscar alone as well, whose mother is barely ever mentioned. In some versions of the stories, Oisín is the only one who can keep his son from his battle frenzy. Because the Fianna legends are very temporally nebulous (and also because all three have some fae blood in them), the three are usually portrayed together in the Fianna's adventures. It is said that one of the two times anyone ever saw Fionn cry was at Oscar's death.
(For Fianna stories, read any of these books. For a Fionn-and-Baby tale, read Eddie Lenihan's book)

The robber and his sons
Some versions of this delightful folktale type (ATU 953) tell about a father who is a retired robber, and is trying to keep his three sons form following in his footsteps. He saves all three of them from execution by telling outrageous tales from his own criminal youth.
(I wrote about this folktale type in detail here)

Peter Carved-of-Wood
In this Hungarian folktale, a poor man carves the figure of a child from wood, and the boy comes to life (déja vu, anyone?). When he sets out to seek his fortune, he tells his father what signs to watch for to know if he is in trouble. When he gets killed on a quest, his father sees the signs and sets out to revive him.
(You can watch a gorgeous cartoon telling of this story here, with English subtitles!)

Metabus and Camilla
King Metabus and Camilla
One of my favorite Roman legends about the exiled king of the Volscii rescuing his newborn daughter by tying her to a spear and throwing her across a river before he saves himself. Don't try this at home.
(Read about it here)

A father's love
This adorable folktale from India features a minister who is always late for work because he is busy raising his six-year-old son. When the king questions him, the minister puts him through a test to see how good a father he would make...
(Read the story here)

Are there any father figures you think I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments! :)

40 comments:

  1. Again, a collection of fine stories :-)
    You know? I'm wondering why parenthood seems to have such a hard time in folktales.

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    1. There is a lot written about that. Some is very symbolic, and some simply needs a lack in the hero's life to push off the plot... and sometimes parents are just not mentioned because they don't have a role to play.

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    2. That bit about the "lack" in a hero's life is likely echoed in superhero fiction, explaining why so many superhero characters are orphans.

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  2. Lovely collection of stories..

    http://serendipityofdreams.blogspot.in/

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  3. Important aspect of parenthood which which is very close to my heart

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  4. I love that there are good fathers in these tales too. A lot of the time they seem to die to let the evil stepmother in take over.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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  5. Very good post!

    Welcome in the letter "C"... thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]

    Stop over and find a free "SIX STRINGS: BLOGGING AtoZ CHALLENGE" Here: http://www.jmhdigital.com/

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

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  6. Lovely Post. High five to all caring fathers!

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  7. These stories are so fascinating ... once again, I've gotten lost in your links. :)

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  8. Oh my gosh, these are so cool! I must know where you found all of them!

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    1. I am a professional storyteller, so reading folktale collections is part of my job. I went through my notes for this one, and also I did some research into folktale motifs... :)

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  9. Once again, a very informative post. I'm enjoying these.

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  10. What an endearing post~ I love this!
    Cheers, to caring fathers~

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  11. I'm not familiar with these tales, but yes, Peter Carved of Wood does sound like Pinocchio. I opened the link to watch the youtube in a little bit. Thanks!

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  12. Peter Carved-of-wood reminds me of Pinocchio, a tale I loved so much as a child. There too the old man brings him up with much love and care.
    And I enjoyed the India tale, I'd never heard of this one but it's beautiful.
    @freya3377 from Life as Freya - http://blog.fatema.in/

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  13. It's good that some dads in antiquity were diligent parents, so often they just send their 'three' sons out on quests to see who can handle themselves!
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles | Wittegen Press | FB3X

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  14. Fascinating information and a really interesting, helpful resource of information. Too often we think a story exists in a vacuum w/ no connection to other cultures and stories. Glenda from
    Evolving English Teacher

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  15. Fascinating! Love learning about folktales I've never read before.

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  16. Interesting stuff. I don't think about these things, so I'm glad you're pointing it out. You're right, it's important to notice.
    @DoreeWeller from
    Doree Weller’s Blog

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  17. The original Pinocchio had a pretty good father, I think, even though his son was made of wood. And the fathers in Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast were very kind and loving, although not as protective as perhaps they should have been.

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    1. Yeah, people often bring up that Cinderella's father doesn't protect her from the stepmother (in the versions where he is alive) and Beauty's father gives her away to the Beast. They are kind of absent-minded at best :D

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  18. i like this. peter is older than pinocchio, isn't it? i wonder if Carlo Collodi heard the legend then wrote pinnocchio. i mean since pinnocchio was published in 1883.

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    1. I am not sure. The folktale type of the magical child is definitely older, but I don't know about the "carved of wood" part...

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  19. More fascinating stories I haven't thought about for a while, especially the Irish ones. Thanks, Csenge - can't wait for D :)

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  20. This is a great sampling of stories about fatherhood, none of which I've come across before. Seems I'm terribly insulated.

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  21. Kaz is super dad. A father's love has quite a touching summary. Cinderella had a caring dad but like Snow White's both met deadly fates.

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    1. In some versions of Cinderella, the father is still there but treats Cinderella just as badly as the step-mother does.

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  22. I always loved the father (merchant) in the Russian fairy tale "The Scarlet Flower" (aka Beauty & the Beast).

    - Joy C for Charity

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  23. It's great when stories feature strong capable fathers who are inspirations to their children and others.

    I haven't read any of the examples you cited but should, huh? :)

    Michele at Angels Bark

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  24. It's great when stories feature strong capable fathers who are inspirations to their children and others.

    I haven't read any of the examples you cited but should, huh? :)

    Michele at Angels Bark

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  25. Good to know that there are stories out there that portray fathers in a favorable light. I try to do the same with fathers in many the stories I write.
    Discarded Darlings

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  26. There's the single father in The Scarlet Flower, the Russian version of Beauty and the Beast. His desire to get a beautiful flower for his youngest child, Nastyenka, is what gets him in trouble with the Beast in the first place.

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  27. You can scratch Darth Vader off the list...
    Seems absent fathers is a theme stronger in today's fiction than in the past. Sign of the times, but it's a real shame.

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    Replies
    1. And odd, I just realized I've never followed your site. Sorry! Epic Ninja Fail...

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  28. I am loving your selections and your themes.
    @SorchiaDuBois from
    Sorchia’s Universe

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  29. I don't know that many fairy tales, but in the ones I do know, loving fathers do seem to be in short supply. If the dads are even around, it seems they only care about toughening up their sons and raffling off their daughters to contest winners!

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  30. Once again, you point out something that is missing from our collective consciousness about fairy tales. There are indeed loving fathers!

    I'm really enjoying your series!

    @dSavannahCreate from
    dSavannahRambles
    #AtoZChallenge2016 theme: dSavannah Defects

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  31. The more I read your posts, the more I realize I know very little fairy tales :)

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