“Zooming down toward them, like a great big wobbling wide-winged bird, was the Land of Green Ginger!” (Langley, 144).
After ruminating on true heroes, the narrator goes on to compliment Abu Ali on doing just that — not showing any of his concern, sadness, or fear on his face. Specifically, the narrator comments that,
“This I find quite admirable, gentle reader. The will to win is half the battle. We are only as brave as we think we are. While hope is not lost, nothing is lost” (142).
Sometimes I have trouble with this idea. While I think it’s a nice sentiment – that a strong will is as much a means of fortitude as bravery or nobility – I question how viable that is for people to actually achieve.
I can understand how one thinks would have a big effect on what one is capable of doing. If one thinks an activity is hopeless, there’s a likely chance it will turn out badly. So, yes, I get the idea.
But I feel like its premise dismisses neurodivergent mental states where it isn’t always easy to think positively all the time (can anyone do that?) like anxiety and depression.
I’m not saying people probably aren’t more capable than they realize. But the implication that having a strong will can “win half the battle” puts on expectations of perseverance that I feel can be more damaging than simply encouraging people to be accomplished in a way that works within their own ways of perceiving and relating to the world.
Unless, it means the “will to win” in the context of the individual? Cause then I’d be okay with that.
Anyway, Abu Ali’s delays his boiling goading the Princes into making farewell speeches. Then the trapdoor gets stuck. And then the Land of Green Ginger literally lands in the middle of the execution. About now, Abdul shows up (the Mouse finally got him to come) and everyone, except Abu Ali and his friends are instantly frozen in place.
Silver Bud has somehow gotten out of her room and rushes over to Abu Ali, whose lept down from the trapdoor. I did like how Abdul and the Magician “turned away discretely” (146), to give them some privacy. I appreciate the acknowledge of their feelings being a matter between them. And I gotta admit, I loved how the even the narrator did this:
“…allowing Abu Ali to dry Silver Bud’s tears and offer her a hundred other charming little attentions which are without importance except to those personally concerned” (146). emphasis mine
Although, shouldn’t Silver Bud be comforting Abu Ali, too? He’s the one who almost fell into boiling oil.
Following the Mouse’s example of asking reasonable question, Silver Bud wants to know how Boomalakka was summoned, since the Lamp can only summon one of them. Abdul responds:
“‘Come, come, my dear,’ said Abdul tolerantly. ‘It is far too near the end of the story for scientific explanations!” (146).
Okay. So he’s saying it doesn’t make sense, but we’ve run out of time. How meta. Or potentially bad writing.
Of course, Abu Ali finally reveals that he’s the Prince of China and Silver Bud asks why he didn’t just tell her father. Abu Ali says it was because “‘I mightn’t have impressed you half as much…if I’d swaggered in here in my royal robes, ordering everyone to bow and scrape to me!'” (148). And I thought it was because, when he did tell someone – namely Khayyam – no one believed him.
Although, I think Silver Bud rightly points out that “‘For shame! You’d have impressed me exactly as you did, no matter how you’d come here!'” (148). Regardless of how Abu Ali came, he would still be himself; he would still have been the same person with the same personality. And if he had just told her father the truth about being a prince, he probably wouldn’t have had to find the Phoenix Feathers. (Of course then we wouldn’t have much of a story.)
It’s sort of like the reverse of Disney’s Aladdin. Instead of pretending to be a prince, Abu Ali was “pretending” to be a commoner, even if I don’t think it was his intention to make Silver Bud think he was. It’s just being a Prince wasn’t as important as actually helping her escape.
Ah! And speaking of the Feathers, here’s what becomes of them:
“‘And we do at least possess Three Feathers which we could have obtained no other way!’
‘We do indeed!’ agreed Silver Bud contentedly. ‘Even if we never find a practical use for them!’
‘They would make a superlative nest!’ hinted the Mouse acquisitively.
‘Then they’re yours!’ said Silver Bud generously” (148).
Yay! Are the Mouse and Silver Bud friends yet?
Silver Bud and Abu Ali return to Peking aboard the Land of Green Ginger. Naturally they’re great rulers, and the narrator states “that the Mouse took up permanent residence as the governess of their progeny” (149). Which is extremely good news, since she’ll probably instill Silver Bud and Abu Ali’s kids with a good dose of common sense, loyalty, and self-sufficiency.
So that was good all around.
The only wrinkle was how the Mouse never heard from her gentlemen friend again, and consequently, how “even in tales such as this, not everything can end happily” (149). I don’t like the implication that because the Mouse isn’t paired off with a male, it somehow makes the ending less happy. She could very well have found fulfillment from raising Silver Bud and Abu Ali’s children and simply living with them. There’s no need for a lack of a male to equal an unhappy ending.
In response to a few of plot predictions, I was wrong about the Phoenix Birds appearing to help; I think I was expecting them to have more to do in the story (while I had the opposite opinion about Kublai Snoo). I was also wrong about there a snag in the magician’s transformation. There was no trouble there. He just didn’t know they were still there.
Overall, I would say I really enjoyed reading this. It’s tone was light and bordering on irrelevance, but it felt never felt mean-spirited. I’d wager that it’s writing tone is one I like. Parts of it were problematic and bothered me, but the characters! They were so amusing and likable. And the language of the text was delightful. Silly sometimes, but as I said in the beginning, I expect a certain amount of that in Aladdin based stories.
source edited for better definitions
- impunity: n. 1.
- acquisitively adj.
“As for Tintac Ping Foo, even if you were to stick him up in a bean patch to scare birds, the puniest pewee would pooh-pooh him with impunity” (146).
Langley, Noel. The Land of Green Ginger. Jeffrey, NH: David R. Godine Publisher, 1975. Print.