The Valiant Little Tailor

The Valiant Little TailorSummary

The Valiant Little Tailor is a familiar story because Disney took it upon themselves to put Mickey at the center of its story once. I have seen the Mickey version before, but it does not include the entire tale.

Once upon a time there was a tailor who was busy at his work when he heard a woman calling outside. She was selling jam. He decided that he wanted some. He bought a quarter-pound of jam, or so, and put in some bread. Before he ate his jam and bread he decided to finish working on some thing or the other that he was sewing.

While he was busy at his task flies were attracted to the jam. Each time he scared them away more came back. Finally, he took a piece of cloth and swatted at the flies. He killed at least seven in one blow. He was so proud of this fact that he had girdle sewed that said, “Seven in one blow.” He decided his fly-killing skills were second-to-none and that he should go out into the world. He took a piece of cheese and a bird with him.

On the road he met a giant. The giant was a little perplexed about the seven in one blow thing. He automatically thought the tailor was a brave man who had killed seven men at once. He challenged the tailor. He asked the tailor if he could squeeze water out of a rock. The giant showed the tailor his rock-squeezing skills first. The tailor then squeezed the piece of cheese until liquid came out. The giant is getting to be impressed. Next the giant challenges the tailor to a rock throwing contest. The giant throws a rock into the air and it’s quite a while before it comes back to the Earth. The tailor is not deterred. He throws the bird he brought with him into the air and it doesn’t come back at all. The giant finally asks the tailor if he could carry a tree with him. The tailor says ok, and says that he will carry the branches, because they are the heaviest part of the tree. The giant picks up the trunk of the tree and proceeds to carry it all the while the tailor is sitting in the branches being carried by the giant.

After a while the giant pulls a cherry tree down to get at the best cherries. He lets go of the tree while the tailor is still hanging on and the tailor is flung quite some distance. The giant asks him why he cannot hold down a little cherry tree.  The tailor said that he could hold down a cherry tree, but that he had chosen to leap very far because there were hunters in the woods. The giant tries to leap over the tree and fails.

The giant then takes the tailor back to his cave, where several other giants sleep. The bed is so big that the tailor curls up only in a corner of it. One of the giants tries to do him in during the night, but since the tailor only slept on the corner of the bed, no harm came to him. The next day the tailor was fine as usual and met the giants on the road. They were surprised to see him alive.

The tailor goes on his way. He falls asleep in a palace’s courtyard where some soldiers see him and his clothing that says seven in one blow. They think he is a great warrior and they tell the king. The king is only too happy to have him in the forces. Soon though, the soldiers become scared that the tailor will kill them and they ask to resign from the military. The king doesn’t want to lose his military or risk being smited by the tailor, so he tells the tailor that if he can kill two giants he will let him marry his daughter and give him half his kingdom.

The tailor agrees and eschews any help. He climbs up in a tree above the two giants in question and pelts them with rocks while they are sleeping. Each of the giants think the other giant is the cause of the blows so they get into a fight and kill each other. The tailor stabs them with his sword after they are dead and goes back to the king wanting his reward. The king was expecting the tailor to bite the dust. Quickly, the king decides there must be another challenge.

The king says there is a boar that terrorizes a forest. If the tailor catches it, he can have his reward. The tailor finds the boar and tricks it into getting stuck in a church window. The king is, once again, surprised the tailor is still alive and also doesn’t want to give him the promised reward.

Another challenge is created. The king tells the tailor there is a unicorn that has become a nuisance or it’s too fabulous, it’s some such excuse. The tailor, once again, turns down any help and goes in search of the unicorn. He finds the unicorn and stands in front of a tree trunk while the unicorn is charging him. The tailor moves out of the way at the last-minute and the unicorn drives its horn deep into the tree trunk. The tailor saddles the unicorn up, cuts it free from the tree and rides it back to the king.

The king pretty much has no choice, but to give this tailor what he promised. The princess marries the tailor but suspects that he used to do menial labor because of something he said in his sleep. The king thinks up a plan to get rid of the tailor once he is asleep, but the tailor has heard the plan. On the night in question, he pretends to be asleep and sleep talks about all his grand deeds. The would-be assassins are too scared to pursue their plan. The tailor stays married to the princess and becomes king.

The End

The Valiant Little TailorObservations

While I agree that this tailor is brave, I don’t know why he deserves any of the things he got. He isn’t really strong and it’s almost like he’s advertising falsely. He knows people will not understand or comprehend what his shirt actually says.

We do have our number three back in this tale, but we also have the number seven, which to some, is lucky.  I guess this number is also the tailor’s lucky number. He did use it to do great things.

I am not enthused about this tale. I don’t find it particularly interesting and I’m just not into it at all. I really do find most of the Grimms tales very interesting, but this one is lost on me. I guess maybe it’s because of the Mickey thing, but I really don’t appreciate this tale at all.

I don’t like the tailor. He’s a trickster and someone who lies by not telling the whole truth. He lets people assume things about him and then just goes with the consequences. You know who else does that? Con artists. The tailor is a con artist. All these years we’ve been looking at this tailor like he’s so brave and he’s so awesome, but in reality he should be on American’s Most Wanted for lying and defrauding the government, because that’s what he does. He defrauded the king. That’s treason.

Although, I am generally not pro-government and you won’t see me being all patriotic anywhere, it is true that you aren’t supposed to lie to the government. You can get in some mighty big trouble when you’ve lied on your tax return and the audit people come around.

I forgot to mention that the little tailor actually yells at the flies that are trying to get on his jam, but they don’t listen because they don’t speak German. That’s what the story says. What language do flies speak? Obviously, sie sprechen nicht Deutsch. You can look that up, if you’re wondering what it means.

The Valiant Little TailorThemes

Is the theme of this story something like, “Sometimes con artists win and get the good things in life while you slave your butt off to put bread on the table?” Or is it something like, “You too can be a con artist. Apply at the Little Tailor school of Conartistry today. We’re “accredited”.”

I know people look at this tale for the bravery aspect. It’s generally, oh this little tailor was so small, but he killed a giant. While it is true that sometimes people can do unexpected things based on their outward appearances, I have a hard time with saying that’s the theme of this tale. Yes, it is true that the little old granny you see sitting in the corner might just be a yoga master who can bend herself into a pretzel. That might be true and, honestly, it would be pretty cool if it were true. That’s fine and all, we can have unexpected people like that. It’s how humanity works. Sometimes other human beings surprise us with their deeds. That’s normal life though, what in the heck is this story going on about?

I can’t get over the fact that this guy, this tailor, is a con artist. Why are we celebrating that? Yes, we are celebrating that fact as long as we continue to tell this story. We are celebrating a con artist. At one point in time, your beloved Mickey played a con artist. That’s not the Mickey you know and love.

Is it ok to praise a con artist? By definition a con artist is dishonest. So if we praise a con artist, we’re praising dishonesty. Usually, we don’t like dishonesty. When you’re making up your resume, you don’t put ‘dishonesty’ for one of your skills, customer service maybe, but not dishonesty. We are not a society that values dishonesty. I don’t know why we value the tailor in this tale.

It’s true that the tailor is clever, and we can totally value cleverness, but we don’t want to value dishonesty. Here’s the thing…some people value dishonesty. They value the idea that you can trick people into believing all manner of things. I honestly have to think that maybe this tale was less a children’s tale and more of an alehouse tale. I imagine drunken farmers, or whomever, would gather at the local pub over ale and speak about men like the tailor. I have to think it was more of a ‘what if’ scenario that snowballed into this full-blown tale of this brave tailor. This tale has its own naughtiness aspect to it.

Generally, naughty does not equal a tale for children. Trust me, if a parent back in the time of this tale’s creation caught their child conning people like the tailor in this story, there would be bruises. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that I don’t envision parents sitting their children down and telling them a tale about this tailor who conned his way to the top. Remember, there are people who went to mass and other church services and confessed their sins. They weren’t going to be down with instilling this terrible example in their children.

I could be totally wrong though. There could have been parents who told this to their kid every night and the kid ended up the most pious person ever.

Overall

I don’t like this little man. I think he sucks. I don’t like how he is a con artist. I don’t like how this story praises the idea of being a con artist. I don’t like how this story praises the idea of being mis-leading. This tailor just rubs me the wrong way.