associationof ideas

Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) began her career almost two centuries ago, and some of her writing is dated, yet some resonates today in odd ways. She address the contradiction in American society as to whether to conserve of consume with her association of ideas. Child also offered this thought: The United States is a warning rather than en example to the world.” This odd group including a bird, bees, a squirrel, a whale, a wax doll, and a horse appeared in “Fanny’s Menagerie,” Rainbows for Children (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1847): 119-131. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

An Awakening (part 2)

April 11, 2018

whale neptune

Image of Neptune-Whale was inspired by a nineteenth-century Native American textile design, drawing by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

Reversing the positions of humans and animals in imaginary depictions was a tactic used to teach children that human and animals suffering was comparable. More than twenty years before the establishment of the San Francisco SPCA in 1868, Lydia Maria Child (1802-1888) selected a story for her Rainbows for Children book that employed rhetoric related to humane treatment of animals in her children’s stories: if you don’t like this treatment yourselves, then don’t do it to us. This logic still can be applied to all minority groups today.

As the story, “Fanny’s Menagerie,” edited by Child, continues, an elephant stomps into the room, shouting, “I want my ivory back! Who carried off my tusks?” The elephant seizes Fanny’s treasured little ivory basket and he quips as he exits with the basket, “It is of no use to me now, but I should like to carry it home to show my little elephants.”

Soon little yellow canary flies into Fanny’s bedroom and she is very sad, the maple tree that has been her home was cut down to make Fanny’s wooden chair. Fanny realizes that she is using products made at the expense of other living creatures and this makes her very sad.

Neptune floats into Fanny’s room on the back of a whale demanding, “Who stole the oil from my favorite whale!” Neptune lifts Fanny’s oil lamp and sails out of the room with it.

Then a fluffy gray squirrel enters, demanding to know, “Who took my nuts?” Fanny feels most awkward since she just took the nuts for her cat to play with, not realizing that they were a food source other animals. When the squirrel realizes that his dinner was a toy for Fanny’s cat, he started pelting her with the stolen nuts.

Poor Fanny wonders what will come next until a great horse enters her room in a fury and rips up her mattress made his hair to shreds before trotting off.

Fanny awakens and realizes that she has only been dreaming. Will she change her ways?

Source: Lydia Maria Child. 1847. “Fanny’s Menagerie,” Rainbows for Children. Boston: Ticknor and Fields: 119-131.