Teaching My Baby To Read

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A Little Princess and The Ramayana

In my initial post explaining my SLE Inspired Reading List, I included the 1995 movie adaptation of A Little Princess to watch as a follow up to reading The Ramayana. Yes, that sounds like a strange idea, but bear with me!

For some reason, Warner Brothers decided to have Sara Crew tell the story of Rama and Sita throughout the movie. They parallel the story of Sita (who is not named) being kidnapped by Ravana, and Rama trying to rescue her, with Sara being abandoned, poor and all alone. The actor who plays Captain Crew also dons blue paint to portray Rama. Spoiler alert!!! Since they change the ending of the movie and let her father survive, at the end of “A Little Princess” Captain Crew is indeed reunited with Sara, just like Rama reclaims Sita. The rescue is thwarted however, and Sara gets hauled off anyway until the very last minute, when Sara and her father are reunited a second time, and live happily ever after. This is similar to the kid-friendly version of the Ramayana we read, where Sita survives the fire and gets to live with Rama after all.

Another Ramayana reference throughout the movie is Hanuman, or rather a monkey that Sara Crew keeps encountering again and again, often at times of loneliness and sadness. It’s been a long time since I’ve read A Little Princess, but I think there was a monkey in the original story. However, the way the movie uses the monkey is very clever, and clearly a wink-wink to audience members familiar with the Ramayana.

Finally, I have to confess that the perils of mothering a young son prevented me from re-watching this movie in its entirety. Bruce(6) took one look at the title and refused to watch anything with princesses or dolls in it. He did allow me to fast forward to the Rama parts, and thought those were pretty cool. “I wish they would tell the rest of the story and leave out the girly stuff,” were his exact words.


2 Comments

  1. Claire H. says:

    Yes, there’s definitely a monkey in the original book. He befriends Sara Crewe and is how the family next door discovers who she is. There’s no Ramayana references in the book, however. I’m not sure a proper Victorian English girl would’ve been taught about that, even if she did live in India as a young child (she goes off to the boarding school at age 5 or 6).

    • jenbrdsly says:

      Warning! Nerdy connections to follow: Did you ever read Little Lord Fauntleroy? That was apparently Francis Hodgson’s most popular book in her lifetime, but I’ve never read it. Francis Hodgson was also friends with Victoria Woodhull, who was the black sheep of the women’s rights movement. Victoria Woodhull was friends with Isabella Beecher Hooker, who was sister to Harriet Beech Stowe, and neighbors with Mark Twain. Their brother, Henry Ward Beecher, was an early abolitionist, evangelical preacher, and tabloid sensation due to a sex scandal that went to trial. Their sister Catherine was an early pioneer of women’s education, and I think was a contemporary of Charlotte Mason (but I’m not sure). There is a really good book out there called Harriet and Isabella, that I checked out from the library.

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