Monday, January 7, 2013

Just a Friendly Old Troll

The Three Billy Goats Gruff/Just a Friendly Old Troll (Another Point of View)is another Point of View tale from Dr. Alvin Granowsky.

In the traditional tale, we find the three billy goats named Gruff who live in a green meadow where over eating has started to create a demand for more grass. The youngest goat decides to seek better grass on a hillside. His invites his brothers and they agree to come, but not until they have finished their chores. The only way to access, the hillside was across a rickety, wooden bridge. Underneath the bridge lived a goat-eating troll. As the Little Billy Goat Gruff crossed the bridge his hoofs trip-trap-trip-trap trip-trap sound alerted the troll that a potential meal was on its way. The troll tells the young goat he plans to eat him and the goat tells him he would be better off waiting for Middle Billy Goat, his brother who would make a more satisfying meal. The troll agrees and Little Billy Goat is on his way. When Middle Billy Goat arrives, he offers his big brother as a more appetizing meal and he too goes across to the other side. When the troll sees Big Billy Goat Gruff, he is thrilled that dinner has arrived. However, Big Billy Goat Gruff is more than a match for him and knocks him flying off the bridge. The goats celebrate happily on the other side of the bridge. The troll is never seen again.

In the alternate version, we meet the troll in the hospital. He discusses coming from a long line of hospitable people. He tells the reader he is known everywhere for his bridge hospitality. The goats’ reaction puzzles him. His only explanation is a failure to communicate. He was confused by each goat’s reaction to his invitation to share his dinner with him. He was even going to serve lemonade. His only explanation is that they did not understand when he said he was having them for dinner it was an invitation to eat with him, not to eat them.

The author does make a case for cultural misunderstandings. The troll presents a strong history of hospitality and comfort to travelers. Since the first two goats did pass without being eaten, it does seem questionable that he would have harmed the third. After all, goats would keep for more than one day. He could have killed the whole family. This would have provided the troll with food for several days if that had been his intention. The goat's account does seem a bit thin.

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