There was once a little boy and a little girl. The boy’s name was Kay and the girl’s name was Gerda. They were the best of friends. Their homes were right next door to each other. The houses were built in such a way that Gerda and Kay could stop out of windows on the second floor and meet each other in the middle.
On the roof were some planter boxes. In one box were herbs in another box was a rose bush. The children often liked to sit in under the rose bush and talk and play. In the winter, the windows froze shut. If they wanted to see each other in the cold months, they had to go down the stairs inside their homes, out into the cold, and then around to the other house.
In the winter, Kay’s grandmother told him about the Snow Queen. All the snowflakes whirring around were snow bees. There was also a Snow Queen. One day Kay looked out the window and saw a large snowflake. It fell near the flower boxes. It grew larger and larger until it appeared to be a woman. The little woman nodded at him and waved, but he was frightened. The woman was gone.
The spring came and Gerda and Kay were sitting out by the rose bushes. As luck would have it, one of the pieces of the awful looking-glass fell into Kay’s eye. Gerda was concerned, but Kay said he thought he had gotten it out, but he had not. A piece of the glass also went into his heart and turned it to ice. He began to find fault in everything. He began to tease Gerda. He began to imitate people on the street. People said he was clever, but really, it was the awful looking-glass working its terrible magic on him.
The winter came again. This time Kay took his sled down to the square to play with the other boys. The boys would often hitch their sleds to bigger sleds and ride around behind them. Kay hitched his sled to a particularly interested looking sled. Its passenger was wrapped in a large white fur, or so it seemed. Kay went faster and faster. The snow got denser and denser. Kay could not unhook himself from the big sled. He had to stay on.
Finally, the sled did stop. The person inside stood up. The fur turned out to be all snow, which fell away. She came to Kay and kissed him. The kiss was ice-cold and cooled Kay and his already mostly ice heart. She kissed him again and he forgot all about Gerda and his home. The Snow Queen would not kiss him again lest he die.
She invited him into her furs, where they rode on and on. There were crows and wolves. They arrived wherever they arrived. Kay slept at the feet of the Snow Queen.
This story sounds an awful lot like the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia. I wonder if this story is where C.S. Lewis got his idea for the White Witch. There are many similarities between the two women.
If we looked at this story without its fantastic elements, we would see the story of a boy growing up and becoming too old for his playmate, who was a girl. It happens. It happens every day. Does that make it any less sad? No, it does not. Girls and boys will play together fine when they’re toddlers and younger children, but when they grow up a few years, they start to recognize that there are divides between the sexes. There really shouldn’t be, but kids are perceptive. They’ll begin to think that they should play with only boys or only girls, whatever the case may be.
Kay’s behavior is normal little boy behavior. I have three younger brothers, I know. People don’t repeat that rhyme about boys being made of puppy-dog tails and such for nothing. Boys are boys. They do boy things. Part of it has been socially conditioned into them and part of it is just their nature. I don’t know how much of a boy’s nature you can socially condition out of him.
Kay would have done these things because he’s a boy child. Does that mean we can’t have some explanation as to why a boy-child would do these things? No, we can have our own explanations for these things and this is exactly what this story is. It’s an explanation of human behavior. Why do little boys shun the little girls they used to be friends with as young children? It is, of course, not an accurate explanation as this fabled mirror really doesn’t exist, but it’s nicer than just saying that little boys can be brats.
I wonder what will happen to Kay.
Do you think there is a line between how much child behavior is conditioned by parents/society and how a child generally acts?
Do you think that Kay’s behavior is normal little boy behavior? Or could it have been conditioned out of him?