A snow-white maiden came out of the little house and said, 'Welcome, Lady Queen," and conducted her inside. Then they unbound the little boy from her back, and held him to her breast that he might feed, and laid him in a beautifully-made little bed.
Judith--there are many versions of the Armless Maiden tale out there. it is a remarkable tale because it has a complicated structure--a sort of hiccup in the middle--and that structure seems fairly consistent in the narrative whether it is told by a Japanese farm woman or a Xhosa storyteller in South Africa.
The Armless Maiden Biancabella and the Snake * A Boy Cuts Off His Sister's Hand The Cruel Stepmother Daughter Doris Dionigia and the King of England Doña Bernarda The Falcon's Daughter The Girl with No Hands The Girl without Any Hands The Girl without Arms The Girl without Hands (Grimms) * The Girl without Hands (Ranke)
In some ways, the maiden has renounced the world when she left her father's house. Jack Zipes points out, "The later 1857 version makes the maiden more helpless, more stoic, and dependent on the angel. In addition, the tale becomes much more didactic and moralistic.
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I also address some of those issues as I discuss the Armless Maiden narrative in the Winter Issue of Endicott. I was interested in the way that particular narrative seems to speak to women of all ages--but with a different emphasis.