As I mentioned in my first post, some of the common themes in young adult literature are family life and sexuality. Both of these are present in Block’s first fairy tale retelling, “Snow.” One thing I wanted to mention about this tale before discussing the thematic ideas is point of view. Third person limited narrators are only in the head of one character, telling the story from the point of view of that character. “Snow” is told from the point of view of more than one character, making it more difficult to read. We find ourselves mainly in the head of the gardener, but we also get the thoughts of the seven brothers, Snow’s mother and of Snow herself. It limits the ease at which the story is read.
Family life can be considered a broad category. In the case of “Snow,” the main character is abandoned by her mother, and grows up with seven brothers. The narrator tells us that Snow’s mother is young, “still a girl herself” (Block, 2000, p. 3) when Snow is born. I infer that she asks the gardener to get rid of the child because she feels she’s not ready to have a child, which is noble in one sense, but sad in another. The mother tells the gardener that she will be devoured by Snow, possibly referring to the end of her life as she knew it, more than a literal devouring. We are to infer that the mother becomes jealous after the gardener visits the seven brothers and Snow and something dies (his love for the mother) and something is born (his infatuation with Snow and Snow’s sexuality), providing the motivation for the witch to kill the girl, as we saw in the other Snow White fairy tales. The mother’s issues with family, her own blood, stem from the loss of a lover.
As the mother is losing a lover, we see Snow discover her sexuality, something born, after meeting the gardener, “exploring the palpitations of her body under the nightdress” (Block, 2000, p. 18-10). Like Snow, many young adolescents are curious about their sexuality and the changes their bodies go through when they see someone to whom they are attracted. She is also excited by meeting the woman who is her mother, she has never seen a woman before and is curious about her own being and how it is similar to other women outside of where she lived all her life. The narrator’s description of Snow’s encounter with the mother and the apple draw on our ideas of oral fixation: “Snow put the piece to her lips and ran her tongue along the ridge” (Block, 2000, p. 25). The image there, in the context of the story, can be sexual in nature, especially for adolescents who have been conditioned by the media to focus on lips as an indicator for sexuality and beauty.
Block, F. (2000). The Rose and the Beast.. New York: Joanna Cotler Books.