asher63 (asher63) wrote,
asher63
asher63

Elijah's Violin - notes

I'm thinking about writing a fic based on the title story of "Elijah's Violin" by Howard Schwartz.

http://www.amazon.com/Elijahs-Violin-Other-Jewish-Fairy/dp/0195092007

ELIJAH'S VIOLIN

Questions and observations:

- Who is Old Woman? (Plausibly, Princess's mother. She might have been exiled shortly after the birth of P1. The other members of the household would recognize her, but P1 might have no memory of her, so she remains hidden from all the others.)

- Nothing to rule out OW being a ghost or apparition, since she is not seen by any other character and does not give P1 anything tangible.

- How did Elijah become separated from his violin in the first place, and how did K2 come to have possession of it? (Maybe E lost it in a card game? These things happen, you know.) He never has possession of the violin in the course of the story, and doesn't seem interested in getting it back.

- Is there a back-story involving K2, OW, and E? K2 has the violin; E used to own it; and OW knows about it. (Whether she knows its location is not clear, but she certainly knows of its existence and importance.)

- What's E doing in that cave, anyway? Is he exiled too? Is there some reason he cannot go directly to K2? We know he is real (even though none of the other characters see him) because he gives the bow strands to K1.

- If K2 has both the violin and its bow, why can he not cure his daughter himself, without the intercession of K1? Perhaps K2 does not know the secret, while K1 does. Since K1's purpose is to get something of value from K2 (the violin) it's not in his interest to volunteer this information for free.

- Clearly, then, the violin bow does not come with a card that reads "In case of mortal illness, throw three strands in fire, and break glass as needed." The violin-bow-hair trick was information initially shared by E and OW (possible reason to suspect they have a shared history) and imparted by E to K1, and by OW to P1.

- This business of sneaking into bedrooms seems unusual in a fairy tale. Presumably this behavior would be disapproved of in traditional cultures (and would be forbidden by most families today) but it does not seem to be frowned upon by the narrative.

- At the beginning of the story, Eldest Sister and Middle Sister are interested in gifts that will make them attractive, perhaps with an eye to finding a mate. P1 must also learn to look outside of home and family.

- I don't see evidence of any attempt on K1's part to discourage P1 from leaving home, but why does P1 feel she has to keep her relationship with the Prince a secret?

- As a Jewish tale, it's possible that there are elements of allegory here. The drops of the Prince's blood on P1's curtain might suggest the Temple sacrifices; the Prince's banishment and P1's quest could represent Israel's quest for the Divinity in exile. The map to redemption is found in the leaves of the tree, i.e. the Torah.

- Let's assume OW is P1's mother. OW sets P on a quest to find EV, which will bring P1 together with her mate Prince. This could indicate her desire to find a good match for her daughter P1; maybe she does not trust K1.

- In the course of pursuing his quest for the wish of P1 (who has been put up to it by OW) K1 discovers the country of K2 - who, like himself, has a daughter (P2). So in granting P1's request (and unwittingly following OW's scheme), K is called on to contemplate how K2's situation might resemple his own, and how P2's plight might parallel that of his own daughter P1.

- Mirror, mirror: First, P2 is instructed to break the glass of her mirror to prevent her doppelganger P2b from returning; then ES breaks P1's window with the ring (which must be a pretty heavy ring) to prevent Prince from visiting her.

- Apparently a fondness for travel and quests runs in the family. K1 goes on a lengthy quest to find EV, and frees the imprisoned P2 where others have failed. Similarly, P1 hangs a "do not disturb" sign on her door, sneaks out through the window, and goes on a lenghty quest to save Prince, also undeterred by the cost of a failed rescue attempt.

- It is to be noted that P1 can read maps without difficulty, unlike her father, who has to keep stopping to ask for directions.
Tags: hebraica, writing
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