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The Gingerbread Man Commentary

Usually, the old man and woman, who create a son out of gingerbread, are presented very sympathetically, and represented rather as the victims of the unthinking Gingerbread Man who immediately ups and flees them. My thought on the tale is that the story's impetus is less the rambunctious foolishness of the Gingerbread Man, but the absurdity of this couple creating a boy out of gingerbread, a creation who is likely, as he is molded by them, intended to be the perfect boy who causes no trouble--yet, lo and behold, the moment he pops out of the oven he is up and running and beyond their desired control from the outset! So all the comic elements are there which would point to this couple being absurd, but are commonly sentimentally disguised with unquestioning sympathy for the pair, and a moralizing emphasis thus on the Gingerbread Man getting into a lot of trouble via his ingratitude.

So, though I paint sympathetically the desire of the couple for a child, presenting the elderly woman imagining the wonderful times she will have with her grateful and perfect vision of a child, life is life, children are children, they pop out of the proverbial oven and are off and running their own course, and, in truth, soon struggling with society's desire to eat them up with individuality-busting codes and expectations. At least such is my interpretation, rather than the Gingerbread Man being simply a truant who gets popped by the fox in the end.

But, as he is a trickster, he does get popped by the more sly trickster fox (who will meet his own match in other tales) because that's the way it is with trickster figures. And we all, yes, get bitten by our own respective foxes, don't we.


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