Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Gift of the Crocodile a Cinderella Story

The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Storyis set in the Spice Islands in Indonesia and has details those familiar with multicultural Cinderella stories will recognize and a few new ones to keep readers interested.

Damura starts the story with a mother who dies leaving her with a respect for nature and kindness for its creatures. Her father draws the attention of a widow with a daughter of her own. This version has a unique warning about temptation. The widow offers Damura a beautiful doll if she tells her father he should marry the widow. The father resists, but the child wants the doll and insists. Thus begins the traditional Cinderella tale. The widow starts slowly. She and the daughter are kind at first. As they grow more comfortable with their power, she quickly becomes the family servant.

One day while doing laundry at the river she loses her sarong and is afraid to return home without it. In her distress, she remembers her mother's counsel and calls out to the creatures of the wild to help her. An ancient crocodile rises up and the girl greets her without fear as Grandmother. Since she greeted her politely, the crocodile does not eat her but inquires about her problems. The crocodile offers to retrieve the sarong if the girl holds her baby. The girl rocks the baby, singing it a lullaby and refrains from calling it a name despite the smell. The crocodile returns with a beautiful sarong and tells the girl to return if she needs anything.

The stepmother refuses to allow her to keep the sarong and forces her to tell her how she got the sarong. The next morning, her daughter throws a rag into the river crying that she has also lost her sarong. While she remembers her stepsisters warning to be polite, she cannot tolerate the baby crocodile’s behavior spanks it and is sings a cruel song to it. The Grandmother Crocodile appears with a silver sarong that the girl tries to grab from her. Since her behavior to the baby was bad, it turns into a filthy leach covered rag she cannot remove.

When a Prince comes to the village to choose a bride the stepmother steals Damura's silver sarong for her daughter to wear. Damura goes back to Grandmother Crocodile who provides her with a gold outfit and the traditional warning to return before the rooster crows. There always seems to be a curfew. Grandmother Crocodile adds an additional requirement. Damura must return everything she wore. She heads off into the carriage and mindful of the crocodile's warning, she heads out as soon as she hears the crowing. The prince grabs a slipper and Damura is concerned she may have offended the kindly reptile. When she returns, Grandmother Crocodile informs her that losing the slipper will make her a princess. Damura shows up in rags to try on the slipper and of course, it fits. She returns to Grandma Crocodile to get her golden clothes to appear before him appropriately attired.

Her stepmother and sister are not pleased and decide to get rid Damura so her sister can have the prince. They take her out on a boat and dump her into a river where she is eaten by a crocodile. Instead of accepting a substitute bride, the prince is devastated and pleads with Grandmother Crocodile for help. She summons her children and demands that the one who has swallowed Dumura spit her up. Grandmother Crocodile wakes her up by licking her and warns her children that none of them must eat Damura, the Prince or any of their children. However, she does tell them it’s open season on the stepmother and daughter.

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