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Literature / My Own Self

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"My Own Self" is an English folk tale retold by Joseph Jacobs in William Bennett's Book of Virtues.

A disobedient boy sits up most nights after his wiser mother has gone to bed to avoid the Fair Folk. One particularly suspect night, he meets a fairy child — and narrowly escapes the fairies' retribution.

This tale includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Agony of the Feet: The boy accidentally inflicts a foot burn on his tiny playmate when he stirs up the dim coals and a blazing cinder flies up and lands on the fairy child's foot.
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  • Be Careful What You Wish For: When his mother tries to scare her son by warning him that the fairies are likely to kidnap him, the son says he wishes they would, because he would like playing with one. His weeping mother goes off to bed, sure something will happen after such words. The boy doesn't actually get into any trouble, but he has a near miss with the mother of the fairy child who stopped to play with him.
  • The Fair Folk: The mother tries to keep out of the fairies' way and warns her son against them. The fairy child has unusual hair (silver) and possesses strange abilities but behaves in a friendly enough manner before the boy burns her foot by accident. Thankfully, he escapes the fairies' nastier side thanks to a quick run to bed before her mother arrives and the fairy mother misinterpreting her daughter's accusation towards him.
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  • Stubborn Mule: The narrator says the boy had been impossible since birth, and usually any effort on his mother's part to make him listen would just make him more inclined to take his own way. He begins getting less stubborn, at least about bedtimes, after narrowly avoiding punishment from a fairy mother.
  • Who's on First?: The boy tricks the fairy child by telling her he was "My Own Self"; when she was injured and complained to her mother, the mother blamed her because she claimed "My Own Self" did to this to her.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The fairy child has silver hair.
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