Parable of the Princess

“Once upon a time there was a beautiful and brilliant princess, so sensitive that the death of a moth could distress her for weeks…” (Pg. 9)

In the readings thus far, one passage that has stuck out to me has been the parable of the sensitive princess. In chapter 1, Genesis, Jeannette tells the story of an incredibly compassionate princess who is, for the most part, tethered to her kingdom and becomes distressed by something as simple as the death of a moth. For this reason, her whole kingdom worries for her until one day she finds an old hunchback woman who is dying. The hunchback women asks her to take care of a certain list of duties and the Princess obliges. When the hunchback woman dies, the princess abides by her promise and is never bothered by her excessive sensitivity again.

This is a story that I felt accurately paralleled the childhood of Jeanette. In my interpretation, the princess is a perfect representation of innocence. As a youth, Jeanette mirrors this innocence in her ignorance of her own sexual orientation. Living a life skewed and sheltered by her mother’s extreme religiosity, Jeanette know’s nothing but what is considered right by the church. In the same way that the princess is restricted by her self-imposed fear, Jeanette is limited by her mother’s overbearing and manipulative. Although she is ultimately able to break free from the major restrictions set by her mother and church later in life, until her freedom Jeanette exemplifies innocence in a life manipulated by her mother and religion. Another, more literal, parallel exists in the distress that the princess feels. Though not to the extent of the anxious princess, Jeanette’s internal conflict of natural instinct versus her mother’s will leads to her living a very confusing and stressful childhood. Lastly, and perhaps most important the way that the princess is able to alleviate her distress is paralleled by an unsuccessful attempt of coping by Jeanette. Unlike the princess, who successfully escapes her restrictions through finding where she belongs, Jeannette seeks to find where she belongs through accepting the manipulation by her mother. Thus, Jeanette attempts to overcome her limits by accepting the cause of them.


2 thoughts on “Parable of the Princess”

  1. “Once upon a time there was a beautiful and brilliant princess, so sensitive that the death of a moth could distress her for weeks…” (Pg. 9)
    This passage struck me as interesting as well. I thought about how throughout her life she has been socialized to believe that most of the aspects that contribute to her identity are wrong and unholy. As she’s grown older and challenged the socialized ideas of her upbringing she slowly but surly sprouted into a “brilliant princess” but as she grows and learns she is still being affected by the teachings of her childhood which contributes to her sensitivity. I think in referencing sensitivity she is hinting at how much her past and upbringing have contributed the depths of how much she feels about the small and large things in her life. She is soft and sensitive and because of her life history I think she has developed a understanding of how hard life can be for people and because of this she feels deep and it shows.

  2. This is a really solid analysis of this quote. It seems as though the princess lives a more charmed life than Jeanette (no pun intended). Another thing that could be added to this analysis is that because she is so oppressed by her mother, that is why she finds comfort in such things as whelks. As discussed in class, whelks have no sense of community life and don’t conform to the familial standards that Jeanette is forced to live by. The princess weirdly finds comfort in the moth but is distressed about its death, in the same way that Jeanette finds comfort in whelks, even as they are about to be eaten swimming in a tray of vinegar.

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