Thursday, 27 June 2013
What happens when you read a book over and over again
I'm sure many parents can relate to the demands of being asked to read the same book over and over (and over) again. I would therefore like to introduce you to Madeleine the City Pig. This is the kid's favourite book at the moment (by favourite I mean we have renewed it from the library three times so far, we face frequent tantrums because of it not being read enough - this is favourite with a capital "F").
As we cuddle up for yet another bedtime reading of Madeleine the City Pig (with me getting sleepier and sleepier as we turn the pages) each reading of this book has lead me deeper into an analysis of the story of Madeleine, the city pig, caught up in the familiar rat race of modern life.
Madeleine is a pig. She lives in big city, drives a fast car and has an important job, yet something is not right; there is an undeniable and ever-growing gap in her life.
She is unhappy. I think we can all relate to her postmodern angst and feelings of alienation (or wait, perhaps she is experiencing existential angst?). Either way, she goes on a search for happiness and tries different hobbies from swimming to acting, yet a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless and absurd world prevails for poor Madeleine.
Ultimately her search for meaning takes her on a physical and metaphorical journey to the countryside, which leads her to the self discovery: she does not belong in the city, she is a pig.
However, before Madeleine's Eriksonian identity crisis can be resolved and the disonnance between her outer and inner sense of self is healed, she must free herself from the shackles of capitalism. She does this symbolically by removing all her clothes (I'm sure Freud would have something to say about this too, but I probably shouldn't mention it here) and phoning the Managing Director from the rather ominous Company to quit her job.
Her final anti-materialist action of breaking her mobile phone, severs her ties to capitalist economic organisation and the owner of the means of production and shows solidarity with the other farm pigs.
Hey, maybe her rejection of luxury consumerist items is more of a symbolic neo-Marxist statement against globalisation and multinational corporations? And pigs... hey, pigs must means something! Orwell... Animal Farm....of course (at this point I'm usually getting quite tired and confused), but let me not digress.
Finally Madeleine has found happiness with the other pigs on the open field with the pond, where she is (sans expensive clothes and mobile phone) "rolling in the grass and swimming in the pond". Images of a rosy setting sun, butterflies and bunny rabbits add to the strong sense of the pastoral idyll and conclude this story of self discovery and journey to true fulfillment.
Then I close the book, place it next to my kid's bed and kiss her goodnight. She sure has an interesting taste in literature!