Week 1

Response to The Rough Faced Girl:

The story of the The Rough Faced Girl is different from my recollection of the classic western version of Cinderella in that the protagonist is permanently marred by a tragic prior event. In my Cinderella, the protagonist is, similarly, not obviously beautiful at first impression. However the soot that covers her, from her work in chimneys and bathrooms, only temporarily covers the true physical beauty that hides beneath. In both stories, the protagonist wins the heart of the man she longs. But in the Native American story, this happy conclusion comes despite the fact that the rough-faced girl is permanently ugly. In the western telling, the prince sees through the thin veil of literal and metaphorical soot to find the true physical beauty of Cinderella. Though similar in structure, the two tales arrive at ends with very different implications. It can be inferred, perhaps, that the culture from which The Rough Faced Girl is born is more tolerant of sub-ideal physical beauty. The west seems unforgiving in their standards, is tolerant only of temporary ugliness, and thus fabricates a narrative in which the protagonist is beautiful all along.

Interpreted Story:

once upon a time a submarine carried penguins from the end of the Earth at the South Pole all the way up to the North Pole…
so that the penguins could spend time with their relatives half way round the world.
this trip was made just once a year, as conditions were too treacherous, the trip too long, for the only submarine that the Penguin Kingdom owned to make more than once in 365 days.
And in this penguin kingdom was a smart but foolish young boy.
This young penguin took a short trip to warmer waters where sharks were known to roam.
The smart but foolish penguin saw a shark swim by and thought he’d play some tricks.
He toyed with the shark so bad the shark was dizzy and tired and mad.
The smart but foolish penguin laughed a raucous laugh that since echoed in the fins and jaws of that fooled shark.
Years later, the smart but foolish boy, boarded the Bipolar Express, flight 103, along with 258 other penguins eager to see their family.
The Penguins marched tidily into their places and the submarine took off on the expedition that would take them a fortnight.
To pass the time, the penguins told stories to one another.
But the smart but foolish boy, days into the trip, in his daft and devious ways, took to playing more tricks on the passengers of flight 103.  Up and down the aisles he went, flicking beaks, startling babies, stealing fish, and interrupting stories the elderly have told on this same voyage for centuries.
And he laughed and he laughed and he laughed.  The same raucous laugh that shook that fooled shark shook the inside of that submarine and far out into the ocean that it navigated through.  Far enough to reach the warmer waters where the smart but foolish boy once swam.  And far enough to wake the same fooled shark that fell for the young boys tricks.
Not long after, the Bipolar Express experienced disturbances that rattled the submarine and the tidy penguins inside.  Back and forth it violently jolted.  And then, as legend has it, a large hole tore through its side.
The Bipolar Express took on water and sank to depths too harsh for the penguins.
So the penguins hurried out of the ship.  But the water above, now at the equator, was too hot for those same penguins.  And slowly, the penguins on that doomed submarine lost their breath and fell to the ocean floor.