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Literature / Bambi

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Bambi, a Life in the Woods (Bambi, Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde) is a classic 1923 novel by Austrian author Felix Salten. It is a Coming-of-Age Story about a roe deer named "Bambi" as he grows up in a forest in Austria.

In 1939 Bambi received a sequel in Bambi's Children: The Forest of a Family (Bambis Kinder: Eine Familie im Walde) revolving around Bambi and Faline's offspring, Geno and Gurri.

In 1942 the first book received an Animated Adaptation in Disney's Bambi. Though Disney never animated Bambi's Childrennote , a Comic-Book Adaptation was made.


These books contain examples of:

  • Allegorical Character: The hound and fox near the end of the novel.
  • An Aesop: Faline's brother Gobo appears to have been killed by a hunter in the same winter Bambi's mother died only to return some time later as a full grown deer, and it turns out a human family had saved his life. (He was dying of starvation by the time he was taken away.) But as a result, he had lost his fear of humans. The next time the hunters came to the woods, Gobo was the first to go. This is Felix Salten's commentary on keeping wild animals like deer as pets.
  • Animal Religion: The animals believe humanity to be some sort of god.
  • Animal Talk: All animals understand each other; Bambi can even converse with insects.
  • Anyone Can Die: Most notably, Bambi's mother, Gobo and the Prince at the end. Several minor characters also die.
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  • Capital Letters Are Magic: Humans are referred to as "He" with a captial H. Interestingly, the term used in the movies, "Man", is only used once, and in the summary for the first book rather than in-universe.
  • Continuity Nod: In Bambi's Children, Gobo's death at the hands of man is brought up early on.
  • Disabled Badass: Ronno has a lame leg due to being shot in it, but is still capable and manages to survive fine in the forest.
  • Disappeared Dad: As is normal with roe deer, the fathers are not present in their children's lives. Even Bambi abandons his mate and children by the end.
  • False Friend: Gobo fatally assumes that because he was rescued by a human, they would all be a friend to him. Unafraid and ignoring Bambi's and Faline's urges to flee, he approaches a hunter in the meadow, only to be shot moments later. Gobo, realizing what's happening, tries to run but it is too late.
  • G-Rated Sex: During mating season, Bambi feels the need to always be near his cousin Faline. Eventually his feelings wane but Faline later gives birth to his twins.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Nettla fills this role, even referred to as Old Nettla.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu:
    • The animals believe that humans are some kind of gods. Near the end, the Prince shows Bambi the corpse of a man who was shot by someone. Bambi then realizes that humans aren't all-powerful beings, but mortal creatures like the animals.
    • Downplayed in Bambi's Children; while the animals are still afraid of humans and understand their ways dimly at best, humans are portrayed in a more nuanced light with good and evil individuals.
  • Kids Are Cruel: A minor antagonist of Bambi's Children is an unnamed kid who steals his dad's hunting rifle to poach fawns. The Gamekeeper catches him in the act and sends him off, but he returns later and is about to kill Bambi's son Geno, only for Bambi himself to intervene by ramming the kid behind, sending him running back home in fear and pain.
  • Kissing Cousins: Bambi's mother and Faline's mother (Aunt Ena) are sisters, making the two first cousins. As adults the two pair up.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Marena plays with this trope, frequently expressing longing to live in harmony with humanity, though never at the expense of the other animals. Naturally, she pairs up with the no-longer-afraid-of-humans Gobo when he comes back, and is soon broken by watching his killing first-hand.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Unlike the movie, the paternity of any of the deer is uncertain. While in the movie, Bambi was explicitly the son of the Great Prince, in the book there is nothing proving that the two are related at all, although they do come to have a father/son relationship. The closest to confirmation given on such things is only an implication that the pair of fawns Bambi meets at the end of the novel are his own.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: The novel does not gloss over the cruel parts of animal life.
  • Parental Neglect: Subverted. Partway through the book, Bambi's, Faline's, and Gobo's mothers start leaving their children alone for hours on end and get mad at their attachment. To a human's point-of-view, it looks like the mothers act this way. However, this is perfectly normal deer behavior. The mothers are just teaching their children to be independent.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • After his mother dies, Bambi is taken in by Old Nettla.
    • As an adult, Bambi develops a father/son relationship with his mentor, the Great Prince.
  • Protagonist Title: Bambi is the protagonist of the first novel.
  • Raised In Captivity: Gobo was taken in by humans as a fawn and reared until until adulthood. After being let back into the wild, it's clear that he's lost his self-preservation skills. He also thinks that he's friends with all humans, which leads to his death when he approaches a hunter.
  • Sequel: Bambi's Children, which offers perspective flips between the animals and human characters, and is Lighter and Softer than the original book. Mankind is also portrayed in a much more nuanced light, with one of them being a generally benevolent gamekeeper note  who is concerned for the welfare of the animals (even taking in Bambi's daughter and nursing her back to health after she is attacked and injured by a fox) and even fights off a poacher and a cruel kid who stole his fathers rifle to illegally hunt fawns. Perri the Squirrel, who appeared in his own book that was a midquel to Bambi, is also a minor character in Bambi's Children.
  • Spin-Off: Perri The Youth Of A Squirrel is a story about a red squirrel set during the events of Bambi, and Bambi himself makes a cameo appearance. Perri subsequently appears as a named supporting character in Bambi's Children. Disney made a Live-Action Adaptation of Perri for their True Life Adventures series in the 1950's.
  • Spin-Offspring: The sequel, Bambi's Children, stars Bambi's twin fawns.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Gobo. When Bambi and Faline reunite with him after long thinking him dead, Gobo explains his absence: During the past winter siege, someone found the injured young Gobo, nursed him back to health, and was treated like a member of his family, and released him back into the wild in spring. Now sporting a horsehair braid around his neck, Gobo regards humanity as a personal friend and no longer recognizes the cautionary practices the rest of the forest dwellers use, much to their - and Bambi's - consternation.
  • Unnamed Parent: Bambi's mother. Subverted with Aunt Ena, Faline's and Gobo's mother.
  • Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born: Bambi and Faline have two children, a buck and a doe named Geno and Gurri.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Bambi with Karus and Ronno. Both were friendly to Bambi when he was a juvenile; but when Bambi matures enough to become a rival for does, these two drive him off whenever they see him. After Bambi finally fights and soundly defeats them both, they don't dare come near him anymore.note 
  • Wham Episode: The chapter where the hunters arrive involves the violent death of several characters, including Bambi's mother (though the film portrays it more dramatically).
  • Xenofiction:
    • The xenofiction aspect is far more pronounced in the original books than in the Disney film. The deer behave in ways that seem unusual or even cruel to humans, but are normal for deer. The fawns' mothers act snappish towards them after weaning them and begin leaving them alone for long periods of time, in contrast to the film where Bambi is always near his mother. Bambi becomes infatuated with Faline during mating season, but finds himself distancing himself from her afterwards.
    • One chapter involves sentient leaves.

Example of: