Image of Child Heros


The image of a child hero or “trickster” is seen in many cultures. This
kind of role can tell a lot about how a culture acts and reacts to things. The
idea of the child hero in stories written and told before the birth of Christ
probably reflect the peoples beliefs that the child is the future, and therefore
carries some sort of power or gift. For stories that were written after the
birth of Christ, the child could reflect the idea stated above, or it could also
be the peoples belief in an infant savior, that a child will make everything
right again.
Whether the story comes from before Christ or after, the one uniform
aspect about these stories is that they are present in every culture, all around
the world. The image of the “trickster” is also very prevalent in the different
cultures. It is seen in many different fables and moral-based stories.
“You cannot go against the Philistine, you are but a youth, and he has
long been a man of war”(Metzger 145). This is what King Saul of Israel said to
David when he proposed that he fight the Philistine warrior Goliath. The story
of David and Goliath is quite possibly one of the oldest child hero stories.
It was part of the Bible, in the Old Testament. In this story a young man named
David proposes to the king of Israel that he fight and attempt to kill Goliath,
the giant that had been plaguing Israel. The king agrees, however hesitantly,
and David goes on to slay the beast using just a slingshot. While this story
is not one that was made up, it still shows us that the ancient Hebrews
believed in the fact that a child, or in this case teen, has the will and
motivation to do the impossible.
Staying on the eastern side of the world, we will next see examples of
Russian stories. In the former Soviet Union, a lot of the time stories, books
and other types of art were hard to come by. “In a broader sense, though, recent
years have witnessed genuine cultural enrichment, as Gorbachevs glasnost policy
permitted the works of previously forbidden writers, artists, and
cinematographers to become accessible”(Grolier Multimedia). After the public was
able to get at the mass of stories that had been kept from them, there was even
more of an increase of books and other forms of art. The Russian people now had
much more of an incentive to write. “In a certain village, not near, not far,
not high, not low, there lived an old couple with one little son named Ivashko”
(Wyndham 32). This is the line that begins the story of Ivashko and the Witch.
This story takes place in a small village in Russia, and the main character is a
small boy named Ivashko. Ivashko was a very independent boy who wanted to go of
on his own and go fishing. He begged and pleaded with his parents, and finally
they gave in. His father built him a canoe and off he went. Ivashko was doing
well while he was fishing, but and one point was lured to shore by an evil witch.
The witch grabbed him and took him to her house deep in the woods. She showed
him to her daughter and they decided that they would eat him.
At this point the witch left to get some of her friends. Ivashko seized
this opportunity, and when the witches daughter went to sit down on a shovel in
order to demonstrate to Ivashko how to do it, he through her into the fire. He
then left and ran up a tree. The witch found him and started gnawing at the tree.
Luckily for Ivashko, a flock of geese was flying overhead and one flew down to
sweep him up. Just as he left the tree fell over on the witch and all her evil
friends, crushing them. Ivashko lived happily ever after. This shows that in the
Russian culture there is a presence of the child hero, and even shows the image
of the trickster in the way Ivashko tricked the witchs\' daughter into showing
him how to sit on a shovel. Ivashko is a hero in this story not only because he
killed the witch, but because he rid the lake and the woods of the evil that
kept most people from going there. Although this isn\'t one of the newly released
works in Russia, I think