The Sailor-Boy's Tale Essay

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In the following essay, Trilling examines the themes of "the marvelous" and initiation in "The Sailor-Boy's Tale" and other well-known stories.

Isak Dinesen always called her stories "tales." The use of this word served notice that she intended to tell a story of a particular kind. What is a tale? Perhaps it is best defined as a narrative which counts upon a certain simplicity of acceptance from the reader or hearer, an acquiescence in the possibility of strange and unlikely events, especially marvelous ones.

In cultures which have not developed a high degree of rational thought, the marvelous is taken for granted as virtually the essence of the literary experience. This is true also of children, who have always been supposed to have a natural affinity with marvels and an appetite for them. Even the modern theory, which has established itself in some quarters, that children ought not...

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This section contains 1,215 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Sailor-Boy's Tale Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Sailor-Boy's Tale from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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