Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Pinocchio (1883)

Pinocchio. Carlo Collodi.  1883. 272 pages.

I've now read Pinocchio twice. It's certainly an odd little classic with dozens of morals within. While the book Pinocchio is many things, it's never boring.

Pinocchio, as a character, is rotten from the start: selfish, pleasure-loving, foolish, rebellious, ungrateful, disrespectful, slow to learn, slow to listen, slow to change. Living by the motto of if I want to do it, it must be right! Who are you to tell me it's wrong or it's a mistake or I'm hurting someone else!

But Pinocchio doesn't know best, he doesn't "know" much of anything of the world and its many dangers. He knows nothing about consequences natural or supernatural. (There are so many fantasy elements in Pinocchio.)

Pinocchio's creation revealing his naughtiness:
Now that he had found a name for his puppet, he set to work on the head, briskly carving out hair, forehead, and eyes. Once the eyes were finished, he stood back, amazed. They were moving. First they looked around a bit, then they stared at him, so intently that he felt quite annoyed.
"Hey! What are you looking at, wooden eyes?" he asked.
There was no reply.
Next he carved the puppet's nose. The moment it was finished, it began to grow. It grew and grew, so that in just a few minutes it was the longest nose he'd ever seen. Poor Geppetto kept trying to whittle it down, but the more he tried, the longer that mischievous nose became.
Next, he carved the puppet's mouth, but it wasn't even finished before it began to laugh and jeer at him.
"Stop laughing," Geppetto snapped. He might as well have been talking to a brick wall. "Stop laughing," he shouted, "or else!"
The mouth fell silent, but stuck its tongue out instead. Geppetto thought it wise to pretend he hadn't noticed. He went on to carve the puppet's chin, neck, shoulders, stomach, arms, and hands.
The moment the hands were finished, Geppetto felt something being whisked off his head. He looked up, and what do you think he saw? His yellow wig in the hand of his half-finished puppet.
"Pinocchio!" he yelled. "Give that back this instant!" The puppet did nothing of the sort. Instead he plonked the wig onto his own head, where it sank down over his eyes.
This was such insulting behavior that Geppetto felt more miserable than he'd ever felt in his life.
"You naughty, naughty boy!" he said. "You're not even finished yet, and already you show your father no respect! I'm disappointed in you, I really am." And as he said this, he wiped away a tear.
Last of all Geppetto carved the puppet's legs and feet. The moment they were finished, he received a sharp kick on the end of his nose.
"It serves me right, I suppose," he sighed. "I should have known that would happen. No use complaining now." (15-16)
Though there are plenty of moral lessons in the text, obvious moral instructions, the book can also be quirky and delightful and very unique.

Have you read Pinocchio? What did you think? Do you like the book or movie better? 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

hopeinbrazil said...

This is one of those classics that I've put off reading. Thanks for reviewing it in such a way that I might soon give it a try.