Gail Carson Levine
Ella is a girl who was given a “gift” from a fairy when she was born that turned out to be much more of a curse than a gift. It was the gift of obedience. She was not able to refuse to do anything that someone told her to do when it was stated in command form. When she tried to refuse to obey a command she would become physically ill until, after a few minutes, she could do nothing but obey to stop the dizziness and illness. This caused her many problems, and her greatest desire was to be rid of this gift. To accomplish this, she went in search of the fairy who had given her this gift so that she could take it away. She encountered great trials in this quest and ultimately found that she, Ella, was the only one who could overcome the “gift”.
- Ella was given the gift of obedience when she was born.
- Her mother died.
- Ella became friends with the prince.
- Ella was sent to a finishing school with two girls who were sisters.
- One of these sisters discovered that Ella was unable to refuse to do anything she was told and used this knowledge to get Ella to do whatever she wanted.
- Ella hated finishing school and ran away in attempt of finding the fairy who had given her this gift.
- On her journey to find the fairy, she was captured by giants who were planning to eat her.
- The prince and his men rescued her, with her help of subduing the giants by hypnotizing them in their own language.
- She and the prince rekindled their friendship, and the prince’s fear of the finishing school stealing her sense of fun was nullified.
- She found the fairy.
- Instead of the fairy reversing the gift, the fairy told her to be happy with her condition.
- Now Ella still obeyed everything, but she was no longer able to even decide what she thought about it.
- Ella’s fairy godmother, who was the cook at her home, was able to command her to feel about her gift however she wished to. This gave her back her freedom of thought although not her freedom of will.
- Ella and the prince stayed in touch through letters and began to fall in love with each other.
- Ella’s father lost his wealth through a dishonest business deal.
- In order to regain his wealth, he married the mother of the two sisters who had gone to finishing school with Ella.
- Ella was made to be like a servant while her father was away on business through the commands of her step-mother and step-sisters.
- The prince told Ella of his love for her.
- Ella realized that she would be a danger to the prince and the country if she were to marry him with her gift of obedience, for she would kill him if commanded to.
- Ella replied to the prince through a letter she forged to be from her step-sister saying that Ella had gone and married some rich fellow and did not love the prince in the least.
- A ball was held for the prince.
- Ella attended the ball in disguise.
- The prince danced with Ella and liked her, not knowing that it was Ella.
- After Ella fled the ball and lost her glass slipper, the prince sought her and found that she had not run off and married another.
- He told her to marry him (without realizing that he was making a command that she would have to obey).
- She struggled within herself knowing the dangers of marrying the prince.
- She started to feel the physical illnesses of not complying with an order.
- She continued to struggle inside.
- Finally she blurted out “NO.”
- She had broken the spell because of her love for the prince.
- She was then able to marry the prince.
God has given us the freedom to choose to either obey or disobey Him. And He has given us the freedom of thought also. Without these freedoms we would be mere puppets. With this freedom we must strive to make right choices. This story also shows the power of self-sacrificial love.
Ideas for Use in Classroom
I would steer discussions toward the topics of freewill and the ability to make choices as well as the importance of obedience. I would ask the students how they would feel if they did not have choices or the ability to say no to someone. This could also lead into a discussion about peer pressure and the importance of standing up for your beliefs and values. - SM