When I spent so much time on the name Dugard--"from the garden"--and thinking only of Jesus' night of anguish in the garden of Gethsemane, how could I have missed the Garden of Eden? Probably because I'm currently involved in a dispute with neighbors which has in fact left me sleepless and anguished. Although it is a matter of beams and nails, my crucifixion doesn't seem to be imminent.
If I could see beyond my own nose I might have noticed that Dugard's story can be seen in the terms of the Eden myth. Sexuality and the loss of innocence. It was the Gid who pointed this out to me so I leave it there, as a challenge to the Gid to lay it all out for us. Let the preacher's kid untangle it!
The second (at least!) point of neglect is the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood. I warbled on about St. Thérèse and Anne Frank and forgot to go into this gem of a tale. Worst of all, I'd thought of it and then decided, nah, fuggit. Then this morning I awoke to read a story about Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell, a young woman of 19 who was killed by coyotes while walking in the woods and then after thinking "holy shit that's horrible," I remembered the tale.
So, here goes. Apparently the tale was told in the 14th c. by peasants in both France and Italy and may have roots in Eastern or "Oriental" tales with similar themes. There are many versions; sometimes the girl is eaten and sometimes she escapes; sometimes involuntary cannibalism occurs. Sometimes the wolf is a werewolf or an ogre. Sexual overtones abound.
The first written version was published by Frenchman Charles Perrault in 1697. In his version the girl is eaten and there the story ends. A moral tacked onto the end explains that the story is a warning to "good girls" to resist the sexual advances of men.
Since Perrault, many variations have appeared but most know the version as told by the Brothers Grimm.
The Grimm version is almost certainly a re-telling of Perault's except in the end, where a hunter after the wolf's skin saves the girl and her grandmother. In this version the grandmother and the girl are swallowed whole by the wolf, but emerge unharmed after the hunstman cuts the beast open. This ending sees to have been taken from yet another tale. The Grimms also wrote a sequel in which grandmother and the girl trap and kill another wolf with a cunning ruse: they drown him after luring him with a pot of water which had been used to cook sausages.
Many interpretations have been made of the fairy tale, only a few of which I'll mention here. Obviously, wolf attacks were a serious problem in the Middle Ages, so it may have simply began as a cautionary tale to young kids, much like stories of La Llorona are thought to have begun as a way to scare kids away from dangerous waterways.
Alan Dundes has analyzed the tale and interpreted it as the story of a girl who leaves home and in various actions crosses a threshold; she emerges from the belly of the beast as a woman. In another Freudian analysis, Bruno Bettelheim sees it as a rebirth; the child is reborn coming from the wolf, her emotions liberated.
Yet another interpretation sees the story as a warning against falling into the trap of prostitution; supporters of this theory note that the red cloak was a common symbol of hookers in 17th c. France. Less pernicious perhaps is the idea that the story represents sexual awakening. "In this interpretation, the red cloak symbolizes the blood of the menstrual cycle, braving the "dark forest" of womanhood. Or the cloak could symbolize the hymen....In this case, the wolf threatens the girl's virginity. The anthropomorphic wolf symbolizes a man, who could be a lover, seducer or sexual predator...."
We would argue that the pedophile and the kid-snatcher has replaced the Big Bad Wolf as the ultimate danger of our time, lurking in the forest after the sun goes down, ready to pounce; the former is the metaphor for the latter. Indeed the wolf has always had a connotation of sexual aggressiveness. The leering wolf-whistle as the statuesque blond walks past the construction site, Duran Duran's Hungry Like the Wolf (I'm on the hunt I'm after you....) All of these sexual wolf metaphors may derive from this very tale or others like it; the wolf and sexual danger have become intrinsically linked. Wikipedia offers a brief summary of modern adaptations, such as popular songs, cartoons and fiction in which the sexuality of the tale is explored.
According to NASA, however, neither June 10, 1991 (Dugard kidnapping) nor November 22, 1976 (Callaway kidnapping) were full moons; though certainly a beast, we can rule out lycanthropy in Garrido's case!
Wikipedia again makes the point that certain modern interpretations of the tale resemble "animal bridegroom" stories such as The Frog Prince and Beauty and the Beast. This latter is perhaps even more telling than the tale of Riding Hood. In the popular Disney film, the Beast first holds young Belle's father as a prisoner but agrees to free him if Belle agrees to take his place. Although coarse and full of anger, the Beast treats Belle kindly, slowly revealing a more sensitive side. Given her freedom, Belle returns of her own volition to save the Beast from his tormentors. She has fallen in love with the Beast, and her tears transforms him back into a handsome young Prince. Cue the dancing candelabra; they live happily ever after.
One might reasonably construe this as a glorification of the Stockholm syndrome. Given the prevalence of the fairy tale in our culture, it shouldn't be so surprising that Dugard never seemed to try and escape her captor. We speak of her as being imprisoned, but it seems she had some degree of freedom, working in Garrido's printshop, interacting with the public. Her children have been described as fairly well-adjusted and clever. Not exactly feral kids locked in a cage for years. Disney's celebrated version of the film was released on November 13, 1991. A week and a day before the Dugard kidnapping!
In both Little Red Riding Hood and the Beauty and the Beast, there is an explicit danger in the forest. Folklorists tell us that this is a trope dating back to the Middle Ages where the forest--place of darkness and danger--is juxtaposed against the village as a place of safety. Put in other words, between the wild and the domesticated, the savage and the tame. In French we can speak of the dusk, or at times the dawn, as "entre chien et loup," literally "between dog and wolf." The night and all its attendant dangers versus the safety of the light of day. These liminal periods put in stark contrast the nature of the wild and the domesticated; they are transitions between states of being. The Wolf in Riding Hood you will recall, dresses itself in Grandma's nightdress and bonnet in order to fool Little Red. And what is the Beast but a lycanthrope stuck in his animal state?
Hunter Thompson brought the following quote by Samuel Johnson to many peoples' attention: "He who makes a beast of himself avoids the pain of being a man." I always thought Thompson was explaining, even advocating, his particular kind of behavior. Now I'm not sure that it isn't merely scorn, or an impersonal observation. Men are dogs, they say. And they are right.