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The Truth About Pinocchio-The Books Time Forgot #4

Updated on December 2, 2014


Pinocchio, otherwise known as The Adventures of Pinocchio or The Story of a Puppet, was written around 1881 by Italian author Carlo Collodi. The book tells the trouble of being lazy and disobeying authority, which Pinocchio does throughout the book, and he learns some very hard lessons because of it.


The Tale of Pinocchio

Pinocchio comes to life after a woodcarver, Geppetto, borrows some magical talking wood from one of his friends to carve. When Geppetto finishes carving the wood, the puppet comes to life and has a mind of its own--though a very lazy, rebellious mind at that.

Geppetto clothes him and sends him off to school, despite barely being able to afford it, and even sells his own jacket in order to buy Pinocchio a school book. It seems Pinocchio appreciates his "father's" sacrifices, but he shows his true colors when he sells the school book in order to see a play. The Talking Cricket appears in his house to scold him, and warn him that he should listen to those wiser than him, but Pinocchio instead becomes angry and throws a hammer, crushing the Cricket.

This happens throughout the book. In other words, someone does a favor for Pinocchio, and Pinocchio disobeys or otherwise ignores what he's been told and does anything he wants.

Later in the book he is hoodwinked by a cat and a fox pretending to be beggars. They tell him that the small amount of money he has can double overnight if he follows them and buries it in the Field of Miracles. Of course, Pinocchio falls for it, and follows them, leaving his father behind to wonder where he'd gone.

Along the way, the cat and fox slip out in the dark, leaving Pinocchio to pay for their hotel bill and food himself. Later they disguise themselves as assassins and try to take the money, but Pinocchio ends up chomping the cat's paw off and running away. He hides the money in his mouth and refuses to let them have it, so they hang him from a large tree, from which the Blue Fairy--a young, fair woman with blue hair--saves him.

Of course, Pinocchio still believes in the Field of Miracles and didn't make the connection with the fox and cat, so he goes off to find it again. Once he buries money there, he later realizes that it's been stolen, and is thrown in jail.

Once he gets out of jail (under celebratory circumstances), he immediately heads to find the Blue Fairy. On the way, he tries to pick some berries because he's starving, only to be caught in a trap laid out by a farmer. The farmer comes and orders Pinocchio to act as his guard dog since his actual dog died that morning. Pinocchio is then put in a collar and chained to a post outside the man's house. He stops robbers from breaking in, and so earns his freedom from the man.

He finally makes it back to the Blue Fairy only to find the house where she'd lived is gone and in its place stands a headstone blaming her death on his disobedience. A bird then comes by and tells Pinocchio that Geppetto went to see to look for him, and so Pinocchio catches a ride and arrives on the beach just in time to see his father swept into the sea, boat and all.

He runs into the Blue Fairy again, who is, in fact, not dead, and promises her that he will go to school. After being tricked by his classmates, however, Pinocchio ends up chased by a police dog for knocking out and possibly killing one of his friends--though it was another schoolmate that did it--and swims to sea. He saves the police dog's life in exchange for letting Pinocchio go.

Pinocchio is then caught in a fishnet and the fisher, who for some reason mistakes Pinocchio as a talking fish even after Pinocchio fully explains that he's a puppet, tried to cook and eat him. Pinocchio is then saved by the police dog he had saved before.

After he makes it back to the Blue Fairy's house and promises not to disobey anymore, he becomes first in his class, and the Fairy promises to turn him into a real boy. But on the eve of this event, he is convinced by a school friend, Romeo also known as Candlewick, to go to a country without schools or studying.

Once there, Pinocchio catches donkey fever and turns into an actual donkey. The coachman sells him to a circus, but when he becomes lame, he's bought by a man who wants to turn his skin into a drum. The man tries to drown him before skinning him, but the Fairy sends a fish that turns Pinocchio back into a puppet.

Pinocchio escapes the man only to be swallowed by the infamous dog-fish. Inside the stomach of the fish, he once again, to his utter joy and astonishment, finds Geppetto, who had been living in there for two years. Pinocchio helps them escape while the dog-fish is sleeping and goes back home to live with the Fairy and Geppetto.

He works and takes care of Geppetto until, one day, he finally wakes up to realize that he's a real boy.

*This is not the full synopsis. This is a general scope of major events for reference to the rest of this article


Carlo Collodi

Carlo Collodi was born in Florence, Italy as the eldest of ten children. He originally went to school to become a priest, but instead became a journalist. As a journalist, he wrote in favor of Italian independence. Once achieved, Collodi turned to editing and writing children's books, which he soon gave up. His real name was Carlo Lorenzini, having taken the name Collodi from the name of his mother's hometown.



Pinocchio=Bad Kid?

So obviously Pinocchio had some issues. He was lazy, selfish, disobedient, etc. But the actions taken against Pinocchio because of these traits were severe, and beyond action that should be taken to ensure these traits go away as he grows older.

For example, he tries to steal fruit because he's starving. There is still a debate whether or not stealing because one is starving in immoral, or if the action is justified. Even if it is justified, that doesn't necessarily mean it's moral. Then again, that brings up the question on what, exactly, is moral.

Back on track, though. Collodi seemed to have a very strong set of moral principals that he thought Pinocchio should follow.

So, in rebuttal to Pinocchio attempting to steal, a man comes along and chains him to a fence in a dog collar, makes him sleep outside in a dog house, and bark if any intruders appear. Once he succeeds in doing this, Pinocchio is set free.

Most people would think chaining a child to a tree is immoral.

So does one immoral act undo another? Did Pinocchio learn his lesson? He certainly learned that there were consequences to his actions. But it's unreasonable to say that the reason he told on the intruders and got them caught instead of letting them make away with the man's stuff was because he was chained to a tree. No, but instead Pinocchio already had a moral compass that was just hidden under boyish mistakes and desperation of his situation.

Pinocchio shows in parts throughout the book that, deep down, he is a good kid. He tries to help people, he tries to make it up to his Papa by attempting to fix mistakes and pay him back for his kindness.

He makes several mistakes, though, such as not listening to his elders and finding himself in rotten situations. You'd think he'd learn after one or two harsh lessons after not listening, but no, he ignores his elders several times, each instance reaping a consequence he has to deal with on his own.

So it may be said that Pinocchio's laziness--his initial unwillingness to work or go to school--is simply because of his young age, but Collodi certainly didn't take it lightly. He believed that Pinocchio, even though he wasn't a real boy, needed to learn lessons early on that made him a hardworking, kind man in the end.

In honesty, it wasn't being a "real boy" that Pinocchio was searching for; it was growing out of his old traits of sloth and selfishness and into the man that Gepetto could count on in his old age and who could support himself.

Do You Think (from examples) Pinocchio's Punishments were Justified?

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Pinocchio (1911) by Guilio Antamoro

History of the Book

The first story of Pinocchio was released in a children's weekly magazine in 1881 and translated into English in 1892. This spawned several films of it including a silent film in 1911 by Giulio Antamoro. The furthest adaptation from the original was obviously Disney's version (1940), but it was also the most successful, likely because it was adapted to be more child-friendly.

The above is the 1911 silent film, the first production of Pinocchio, or the Tales of a Puppet.

Teaching Children vs Letting the World Teach Them

Obviously Collodi believed that, if a child doesn't do what he is told, that the child will suffer the consequences due to the world throwing it back in his face. When Pinocchio disobeys, he seems to have good reasons, on occasion; he wanted to make more money at the Field of Miracles in order to pay back his father, but he was unwilling to work for it. Going down easy paths eventually leads to causing more of a mess than if he had simply done the responsible thing in the first place.

Geppetto and the Blue Fairy try hard to have Pinocchio listen to them, but it still wasn't until the very last chapter of the book, after the world had taught him quite a few lessons, that he finally became a hard worker and earned being a real boy.

Collodi may have intentioned the story to be one of the simple, "Listen to your elders", but upon reading the story it is easy to interpret a far more deeper meaning; the story is telling children that they do not know everything, and if they are to succeed in the world, they need to work hard to earn it and listen to those who are wiser than they are.

As portrayed by the story, however, teaching children can only go so far. It is the world that will teach them real hardships. Sometimes even hard workers come upon hard times--poor Geppetto, for instance, just wanted his son back, and ended up in a fish's gut for two years. But it is the forming years--the beginning of adolescence--that parents like Geppetto and the Blue Fairy need to utilize in order to form their child.

*Know that any speculation is based off of and related only to the story and in no way reflects my own opinions. If you would like to know my opinions, feel free to ask in the comments below.


What Plot?

Though the book is full of great substance for moral debate, when looked at from a reader's perspective, one has to almost agree with Collodi's dislike for it. The story idea itself is interesting, and Pinocchio is a compelling character, but the entire book is full of "happy accidents".

Most incidents are causal, as Pinocchio takes action and causes some sort of mayhem, but there are too many episodic instances that tie the story together. One moment, Pinocchio will feel hopeless--the next, a random peasant or animal appears and solves his problem.

The book is hard to get into at first because of its odd start with no background on the magical wood that became Pinocchio or the fact that almost everyone in Pinocchio's world is unfazed by a talking puppet, but the book gains momentum towards the end as Pinocchio digs himself deeper and deeper into situations that he had been warned not to dig himself into.

He really drives the story as a character, as he is portrayed as a bad kid, and even calls himself a bad kid at several points, but there are moments throughout the story that shows he really does have a heart--that he is just misguided by his initial sloth and the influences of those such as the cat and the fox and his schoolmates.

Nevertheless, the book would serve its purpose as it warns children--specifically little boys--against disobedience and laziness.

It would really be interesting to see another rewrite of the original, perhaps with a darker, more believable twist on the tale. The aspects of the story itself are dark--Pinocchio being hanged from a tree, for example--but to see the story and morals placed in a more believable setting would certainly be terrifying.

How Well Do You Know Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio?

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The Story of a Puppet is about adolescence and growing out of bad habits, written by a man with strong moral principals who later expressed his dislike for the story. Despite this, the story grew into a huge success, and is featured in theme parks all over the world.

If you have any more information or questions, make sure to comment.

Thanks for reading!

Interested in Reading the Original by Carlo Collodi? Find it Here


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