You’re Jack and the Giant would be … ?

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It’s a children’s fairy tale* yet we’ve come to believe in Jack’s good fortune. We’re even cool celebrating a hero guilty of trespassing, breaking and entering, and chopping down a tree without a permit. That’s because this poor farm boy essentially took back what belonged to the people. Sure, I’m taking liberties with the plot, but no matter; the message is the same: Jack was indeed tiny compared to the imposing Giant, but he certainly wasn’t weak.

Imagine you are Jack. Who or what is the Giant you’d take on?

*If you don’t know the story, here’s my roughed up version.

Jack’s family is poor. Living off the land as tenants isn’t reaping them any rewards; not when the local Giant is taxing the people heavily, keeping them segregated and stockpiling  or selling what he’s seized. Times are getting harder and Jack’s widow mother is at her wit’s end. They lack food. They’re malnourished. They’re working non-stop. Their bungalow needs repairs.

Determined, Jack sets out to get cash in exchange for the family’s one cow. But instead of coin, Jack gets three magic beans–something he probably later regrets because his disappointed mother tosses them out his broken bedroom window.

The beans take root and the next morning hungry Jack wakes up to find a towering beanstalk has sprouted outside his window. Here’s the part that gets my attention: Jack decides to climb the beanstalk which meanders up into the clouds. He can’t see where this stalk leads, still he’s got to try.

Jack ends up in a new sprawling territory and finds his way into a castle belonging to a Giant. Everything is colossal, extravagant, even gaudy.  As he’s investigating the gigantic stuff cluttering each room, Jack hears the lumbering steps of the Giant approaching. Before it enters, Jack takes quick cover behind something that’s too enormous and too shiny to name. He waits. Only when the mouth-breathing mutant falls asleep, snoring a rumbling thunder punctuated by  snorts, does Jack venture out. He grabs a bag of gold coins and, bending carefully at his knees, lugs the bag onto his back before climbing down the beanstalk.

So successful was his adventure, Jack scales the beanstalk and sneaks into the castle on two more occasions. When the unsuspecting Giant drops off, our stealthy farmer sneaks out with a golden harp one time and another bag of gold coins the next. On the fourth trip, Jack decides to go after the goose that lays the golden eggs. Offended, the bird goes ballistic and the Giant is abruptly awakened.

He first smells Jack then spots the boy getting away with his most prized possession. Shouting a colourful string of F-words, he chases him out the castle and down the beanstalk. He’s furious but clumsy and slow. Jack tears down the beanstalk, calling to his mom.

“Get the ax! Get the ax!”

Jack’s mother does as she’s told and meets her son as he jumps down from the beanstalk. He takes the ax and immediately swings it at the twisting vines around the stalk’s trunk. The Giant continues his descent. Frantically, Jack chops, chops and chops and whacks. His siblings and fellow villagers gather round, cheering him on. The Giant is still coming down the stalk when it starts to give.

Winded and sweating profusely, Jack hacks one last time at the beanstalk and it severs before falling to the ground, sending the Giant crashing to the earth. The Giant’s fatal fall ends an era of oppression, transforming Jack into a respected and much loved resident in his emancipated farming village. Many cultures would call that true wealth.

Imagine you are Jack. Who or what is the Giant you’d take on?

Photo by Saada Branker,  2017©
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