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b finding the modern day folktale in the daily news /
by Brandice Palmer.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2005.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
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ABSTRACT: This study explores the local news story for evidence of the folktale tradition. It examines a range of local news stories for their folktale functions. The study compares the cultural and psychological function of the news story to that of the folktale and compares the functional definition of folklore to that of journalism. The study also explores the idea of a classifiable sphere of formal character, motif and plot functions that may be explored within the news story and folktale texts. This study builds on the premise that the study of folklore should be at the center of a consideration of the cultural context of local news stories. Using the ideas of formal classification, the study examines a selection of local news stories with folktale characteristics for evidence of folktale functions as structural features within the text. In analyzing content, the study employs a structuralist methodology to evaluate the folktale and mythic functions in the text.The study evaluates the selection of purposefully chosen news story texts for the existence of folktale functions, types, motifs, and key master myths defined formally by a structuralist methodology. In part, this study explores how folklore acts within culture as a socio-psychological dynamic. From the findings of the critical reading, the study begins to probe the idea of the folktale function of journalism as a cultural psychodynamic. Through the analysis of a selection of carefully chosen regional texts, this study provides an example of the application of the folktale function of journalism, examining the news story as a page in the tradition of folklore.
Adviser: Dr. Robert Dardenne.
x Mass Communications
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Seeking Story: Finding the Modern Day Folktale in the Daily News by Brandice Palmer A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Mass Communications College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Robert Dardenne, Ph.D. Deni Elliott, Ph.D. S. Elizabeth Bird, Ph.D. Date of Approval: November 1, 2005 Keywords: culture, folklore, journalism, myth, storytelling Copyright 2005, Brandice Palmer
Dedication To storytellers, truth-seekers, and meaning-ma kers alike: itÂ’s all in the way you tell it.
Acknowledgements I am lucky to have found Dr. Robert Darde nne, who said he liked my funny idea and encouraged me to write, Dr. Deni Elliott, who ga ve me the discipline to write as well as I can, and Dr. S. Elizabeth Bird, whose work inspired me to think about new directions as I write. A special thank you to all of the brave and pa ssionate student journalists who helped me to see the world in a different wa y. It has been a fantastic journey. I will try to remember to be grateful to the people who gave me the time and the chance to explore.
Note to Reader: The original of this document contains color, that is necessary for understanding the data and the original thesis is on file with the USF library in Tampa, Florida.
Table of Contents List of Tables iii List of Figures iv Abstract v Chapter One 1 Introduction 1 Statement of Problem 3 Purpose of Study 4 Assumptions of the Study 5 Justification 6 Definition of Terms 8 Chapter Two 18 Literature Review 18 Wagging the Tale 18 Through the Smoking Mirror 26 Breaking the Looking Glass 37 Finding Camelot 42 Hope for Meaning 44 Chapter Three 49 Methodology 49 Subject Selection and Description 53 Data Collection Procedures 55 Chapter Four 56 Data Analysis 56 Findings 57 Limitations 85 Chapter Five 87 Conclusions 87 Summary 87 Recommendations 90 Conclusions 92 List of References 94 Bibliography 101 i
Appendices 105 Appendix A: Folktale A 105 Appendix B: Folktale B 121 Appendix C: News Story A 125 Appendix D: News Story B 135 ii
List of Tables Table 1 Comparison of Folktale F unctions in News Story A and Folktale A. 60 Table 1-A Master Myths as Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. 62 Table 1-B Comparison of Folktale Functions in News Story B and Folktale B. 63 Table 1-C Folktale Motifs as Folkta le Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. 66 Table 1-D Folktale Dramatis Personae as Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. 69 Table 1-E ProppÂ’s Functions as Folk tale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. 70 Table 2 Master Myths as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. 73 Table 2-A Folktale Types as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. 76 Table 2-B Dramatis Personae as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. 78 iii
List of Figures Figure 1. Chart of Total Folktale Functions in Folktale A and Folktale B and News Story A and News Story B. 59 Figure 2. Chart of Total Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. 61 Figure 3. Chart of Total Folktale Functions in News Story B and Folktale B. 64 Figure 4. Chart of Total Folktale Functions and ProppÂ’s Functions Compared in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. 81 Figure 5. Folktale Motifs as Folk tale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. 82 Figure 6. ProppÂ’s Functions as Folk tale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. 84 iv
Seeking Story: Finding the Modern Day Folktale in the Daily News Brandice Palmer ABSTRACT This study explores the local news story for evidence of the folktale tradition. It examines a range of local news stories for their folktale functions The study compares the cultural and psychological function of the news story to that of the folktale and compares the functional definition of folklo re to that of journalism. The study also explores the idea of a classifiab le sphere of formal character, motif and plot functions that may be explored within the news story a nd folktale texts. This study builds on the premise that the study of folklore should be at the center of a consider ation of the cultural context of local news stories. Using the ideas of formal classification, the study examines a selection of local news stories with folktale characteristics for evidence of folktale functions as structural features within the text. In analyzing content, the study employs a structuralist methodology to evaluate the folktale and mythic functions in the text. The study evaluates the selection of pur posefully chosen news story texts for the existence of folktale functions, types, motifs, and key mast er myths defined formally by a structuralist methodology. In part, this study explores how folk lore acts within culture as a socio-psychological dynamic. From the findi ngs of the critical reading, the study begins to probe the idea of the folktale function of j ournalism as a cultural v
psychodynamic. Through the analysis of a selection of carefully chosen regional texts, this study provides an example of the application of the fo lktale function of journalism, examining the news story as a page in the tradition of folklore. vi
1 Chapter One: Introduction The most broadly accessible storytelle r in the present era is arguably the journalist. Newspapers, delivered daily to most homes in this country, are a common cross-cultural literatu re, linking people to the happen ings that shape the world around them. The newspaper, delivered in a medi um to the masses, has a potentially strong social and psychological impact on the reader ship. In turn, the mass readership has an impact on the meaning of news literature by providing interpretation. This study does not evaluate the impact of the news journalist as referent or news reader as interpreter. It does not attempt universal applica tions. Instead, it looks at the way folklore functions in a limited cultural s phere and closely evalua tes the content of a selection of local stories for evidence of a folktale functi on at work in the news. This study builds on the premise that the study of folklore should be at the center of a consideration of the cultural context of local news stories. Within the context of these local stories, the study limits itself to a form alized evaluation of written news story text content to provide reliability and consistency. Journalism has been explored as a soci al utterance with socio-psychological impact by a number of mass communications theo ries. Folklore has also been explored as a traditional social utterance w ith socio-psychological impact. The first part of this study and initial chapter examines similarities and contrasts between the f unctions of folklore and the functions of journalism and evalua tes methodologies that may be used to compare the folktale to the news story.
2 The second chapter of the study explores the ways folktales function as cultural and psychological meaning-makers and the ways news stories might function as folktales. The folktale function is explored as a cu ltural psychodynamic that provides people with a sense of meaning and identity. The folktale-t eller and journalist as story senders and readers as referents and identities are introduced in this chapter. The third chapter presents the formal st ructural and post-stru ctural methodologies that will be used to conduct th e critical reading and conceptu al analysis of the selected local news story and folktale texts. The eval uation of text content in this study is limited to an evaluation of signifying message and c ontent, using formalized methods. The idea of folktale functions as motifs, myths, char acters, plots and themes, is outlined in this chapter. The methodology for the critical reading conducted in this study is also outlined in Chapter Three. Chapter Four explores the text conten t of local folktales and news stories according to their folktale functions. The four th chapter of the study conducts a two-part content analysis, critically r eading the selected news story and the folktale texts for the folktale functions that may help govern meaning in stories. In the first part of the content analysis in Chapter Four, a traditional and nontraditional news story and a traditional and non-traditional folktale are read for evidence of the folkta le functions. In the second part of the content analysis in Chapter Four, th e folktale functions th at repeat and vary thematically in the periodical news storie s are further evaluated by analyzing a monthlong series of news stories. The formalized folktale functions, evid enced in the content analysis of a month of sampled story text, are explored as consistent themes in the sampled text and compared in the range of selected stories.
3 The way readers and writers, story cons umers and producers, refer and interpret the folktale functions within the text as uni versal symbols, is the subject of further investigation, in the form of a relational anal ysis of the folktale function of news story text and its effect on stor y producer and consumer. The conclusion of Chapter Five discusses the implications of the findings from the critical reading, the limitations of the study, and recommends paths for further needed research. Statement of the Problem At news writingÂ’s core is the fundamental need to quash subjectivity and myth and replace it with objectivity and fact. The debate between journalism and literature and subjective and objective reporting (Boynton, 2005) remains unsettled, even in the modern era of Â“New New JournalismÂ” where style meets fact. News, serial by nature, depends on newness and variation (Eco, 1990, p.96). Folklore, by nature, depends on traditional themes and repetition (Brunvand, 1998, p. 16). This study explores the dichot omy of journalism and folklore, and how the objective, factual news story and the hi ghly subjective, mythic folkta le are both chronicles of culture whose functions may parallel (Lule, 2001). By closely studying the relationship of folklore to local culture, this study builds a framework for evaluating the relationship of the folktale function to the lo cal news story function. Other studies of the myth-making quality of news have focused on myth as lie (Radford, 2003) or myth as the common stoc k of storytelling (Lule, 2001). Myth and news-making, for Lule (2001), are entwined, with myth providing the story formula for news stories. What this study illustrates is how myth and folklore actually function within
4 a selection of folktale and news story text. Bird and Dardenne have suggested that Â“the study of narrative should be at the center of any considera tion of news in its cultural contextÂ” (Bird & Dardenne, 1988, p. 79). This st udy builds on this premise, and applies the folktale functions to a selection of stor ies to illustrate how the study of folklore should be at the center of a consideration of the cultural context of local news stories. The critical reading of local folktales and news stories at the center of this study will explore the selection of story text for the existence and persistence of the folktale functions. In investigating the ways in which th e news story exhibits characteristics of the folktale, the study illustrates the socio-cultur al and psychological im pact of journalism through a parallel study of the impact of fo lklore. Through the exploration of folktale functions in local news stories, the study ultimately investigates the way that news writing might act as part of the tradition of storytelling that pr opels the social and psychological dynamic of a culture. Purpose of the Study This study explores where the folktale overlaps with the news story and where folkloreÂ’s function meets journalismÂ’s function. It investigates whether a sample of local news stories exhibits the characteristics of th e folktale. It ultimately asks how finding the folktale function in the selected news stories might explain some of the subjective nature of news writing. The study first explores the possibility of finding a persistent folktale function within the evolving dynamic of news writing and then examines some implications of finding the folktale functi on in the regional news story. It surveys evidence of folktale functions in the forms of myth, motif, character and plot devices in a
5 critical reading of regional news stories. The study then defines the methodology that will be employed in the critical reading of select ed stories, which attempts to prove that folktale functions exist in the selections from the local newspaper and summarizes the findings. Finally, the study discusses how the conceptual analysis and study as a whole might provide the foundation for further i nvestigation into th e socio-psychological dynamic of the folktale function in neighbor hood newspaper journalism. This study is limited to an evaluation of lo cal news stories and folktale s in text form to provide uniformity among samples and to provide a cl ean illustration of how folktale functions might be applied to the local news story. Assumptions of the Study A number of variations in interpre tation exist in this qual itative study. Analysis of the news story text and folktale text is highly subjective. The folktale theme itself, and hence meaning and function of the folktale or news story, may be altered by the variable telling, retelling, and interpre tation of the original stor y as it is diffused over time (Brunvand, 1998). The folktale functions themse lves are highly implicit patterns, further complicated by interpretation. This study has lim ited itself to an investigation of the way folktale functions appear in written text, in an attempt to eliminate variation in the story medium. This study strives to remain consistent in interpreting the fo lktale functions as motifs, functions, dramatis personae and myths in the content of the selected text. In studying 8 characters or dramatis personae, 22 folktale motifs, 7 myths, and 31 Proppian folktale functions in 35 regional stories, th e study attempts a thor ough investigation into the existence of folktale functions in the lo cal news story. To reinforce reliability, the
6 critical reading uses a consistent methodologica l interpretation of th e folktale functions within the selection of local folktales and news stories. The socio-psychological function of the folktale depends on its function in a culture and the way the tale producer and tale consumer perceive it. These highly subjective and variable perceptions are the last portion of a critical reading of text as meaning. These variables cannot be explored in great depth in this initial conceptual analysis This study is only an initial exploration of the conten t of a selection of local news stories for folktale char acteristics. It presents the foundation for more elaborate relational analyses of the psyc hodynamic of the folktale functi on in the news stories. Justification We humans are all descended from city-bui lders and folktale-tellers. Cities give us a place to live in the phys ical world and folktales give us a sense of place and an identity within the cultural landscape. Stories are arguably as important to the development of cultural identity as cities are to the evolution of the edifice of civilization: Â“Primitive storytellers may have gained a wea lth of social advantage, by using stories to explain the mysteries of life and universe, or to express accurately the feelings and relationships listeners had w ith each other and their environmentsÂ” (Anderson, Dardenne & Killenberg, 1994, p. 153). Stories inhabit people and people inhabit buildings. It is the job of the journalist to collect the storie s of the people who inhabit the buildings and landscapes of this world. Buildings may burn and crumble, fall dark, flood, but the stories of the people who lived within those buildings provide a witness to li fe, to culture, and to the idea of place. The substance of these ta les may be part of our collective cultural
7 unconscious, the common-stock of tales that Alan Dundes (1966) referred to as the Â“metafolklore,Â” and modern journalists may be playing a part in the tradition of collective storytelling. Stories, in either the form of folktales or news stories, or as hybrid examples of both, serve a social and psyc hological function within a cu lture. In attempting to find the function of the trad itional folktale in modern storyt elling, this study will look to a selection of local stories in th e newspaper. This research wi ll examine the plausibility of finding the folktale function in the regional news story in an attempt to find a living sample and a thumbprint of the social and ps ychological presence of the relationship of story to local culture. By closely evalua ting a sample of local tales, this study will illustrate the application of folktale functions to the written news. Ultimately, the study investigates some elements of the common-stock that folklore and journalism both sh are though a practical application of folktale functions to story samples. This study explores the regi onal news story, a common-stock written story form accessible to most of the literate populat ion, for parallels and contrasts with the regional folktale, a written and oral tradition of storytelling accessible to the non-literate population as well as the literate population. Th is study exists to dust, poke and dig for the place where folklore themes appear in the news; as a groundwork for further relational research from other theorists that may give us new in sight, as writers and readers, into our expanding definition of cultural literacy: how we humans see each other within and through a culture, how we treat ea ch other, how we vi ew the world, how we use language to explain the world, what we va lue or disparage in one another, and in essence who we are.
8 Definition of Terms Animal tales, Animal tales fall into two major categories: those, such as the trickster tale, in which anima ls are actually believed to have the power of speech and the abilit y to conduct themselves as humans; and those in which the anim alÂ’s human qualities are simply a convention that is accepted during the c ourse of the narrative such as the medieval beast cyclesÂ…(Coffin, 2005). Folktale, Â“a story, often with legendary or mythical elements, made and handed down among the common people: also folk storyÂ” (Websters, 1968, p. 562). One of the many forms of folklore, folktales are heard and remembered, and they are subject to various alterations in the course of retellings. As they are diffused (transmitted through a culture) some folktales may pass in and out of written liter ature, and some stories of literary origin may cross over into oral tradition. Nevertheless, an essential trait of folktalesÂ—and all folk literatureÂ—is their diffusion, and their pa ssage from one generation to another, by word of mouth (Coffin, 2005). The term Â‘folktaleÂ’ designates a trad itional narrative, au thor unknown, whose form and content are transmitted in pros e, primarily through oral performance but also through copied and printed colle ctions, and whose sequence and details vary according to the ski ll, interest, and demands of teller and audience. A broader definition is sometimes found, whereby the folktale is treated simply as a
9 prose narrative on a traditional theme, trans mitted orally-and so can function as a cover term for genres as various as legend, fairy tale, tall tales, humorous anecdotes, and othersÂ…A folktale may be based on a single motif or many, upon a single episode or many, and an establishe d pattern frequently emerges, which scholars call a Â‘tale-typeÂ’Â…The prac tice of composing and transmitting folk narratives is probably as old as human sociability, and for that reason the question of the taleÂ’s origin is us ually beyond empirical grasp (Tate, 2005, pp.179-180). Folklore, Â‘folkloreÂ’ as a category describing ver nacular, traditional, face-to-face, cultural expressions passed or ally from one generation to the next is an invention of modernity. Indeed, folklore could be seen as modernityÂ’s other, designed to differentiate between the contemporar y and the past, the industrial urban mechanical world, and the urban peasant arti san world. Distinctions among folk, elite, high, popular, traditional, and mode rn cultural expressions are best understood in this context, as strategies for granting status or legitimizing categoriesÂ…Beginning in the 1960s, the discip line of folklore studies experienced a paradigm shift from textual comparison to ethnographic observationsÂ…focused on understanding folklore as a dimensi on of local character and cultureÂ…the study of folklore today combines et hnographic research on performance with critical reflection on the romantic legacies of the disciplineÂ…the idea of folklore as a voice of the people, a concep t fundamental to th e development of nationalismÂ…As folklore research shifted to the study of perfor mance, the field of
10 inquiry broadened to include not only ep ic, fable, fairy tale folktale, legend, and myth but also genres of conversati onal storytelling (Shuman, 2005, pp. 177-178). Journalism, Conventional journalism emphasizes traditional news values of timeliness, proximity, importance, co nflict, novelty, accuracy and is defined through the spare and efficient Â‘inverted py ramidÂ’, which orders facts from most to least important. The form is we ll suited to organizing, delivering, and showcasing facts in a jour nalistic environment that holds truth-telling and objectivity to be guiding principlesÂ…na rrative journalism allows reporters access to subjects and people not usually co nsidered newsworthy, thereby offering increased potential to report outside a conventional journalism of conflict, scandal, crime, and the abnormalÂ…narrative journalism, like the use of particularized stories in historiography, can have the effect of making individual actions primary, thereby skewing perceptions of the world by de-emphasizing social and other forcesÂ…journalistic stories provide their own contextÂ— misleading when reporters include facts because they conform to the story or Â‘omitÂ’ them because they do notÂ…stor ies in early American newspapers often were untrue or exaggerated but found th eir Â‘newsÂ’ value in qualities they illustrated-charity, loyalty, honesty, and courageÂ…simple stories illustrating rewards of hard work and sins of sloth or intemperanceÂ…Penny Press showed that facts and information garnered mo re profit than opinion and moralizingÂ…the fictionlike morality tales faded after the Civil WarÂ… (Dardenne, 2005, p. 267269).
11 Legend, Â“a story of some wonderful event, handed down for generations among a people and popularly believed to have a historical basis, although not verifiable: distinguished from mythÂ” (Websters, 1968, p.836). Legends are folk history, and even when dealing with subject matter they differ from myth in that they te ll about what has happened in the world after the period of its creation is over. They are believed by both narrator and audience and encompass a great variety of subjects : saints, werewolves, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures; adventures of real heroes and heroines; personal reminiscences; and explanations of ge ographical features and place-names (called local legends). Legend differs from formal history in style of presentation, emphasis, and purpose. Like ot her folktale forms it tends to be formulaic, using clichs and standardized characterizationÂ… a similar patterning of characters and plots occurs in ghost stories, local lege nds, and in some cases even in family reminiscences. Such stories, though they may be presented as history, are too patterned to be trusted as hist orical accounts (Coffin, 2005). Marchen, (fairy tale) from the Old high German mari, Gothic mers, and Middle High German Mare, originally meaning news or gossip (Zipes,1979). Myth, Â“a traditional story of unknown authorsh ip, ostensibly with a historical basis, but serving usually to explain some phenomenon of nature, the origin of man, or the customs, institutions, religious rites, etc. of a people: myths usually involve the exploits of gods or heroesÂ” (Websters, 1968, p. 972).
12 Narrative, Â“a story; account; taleÂ” (Websters, 1968, p.976). Though interest in the phenomenon that fo rms the topic of this Encyclopedia dates back to a couple of millennia, both in West ern and non-Western cultures, it is only in the past fifty years that the concept of narrative has emerged as an autonomous object of inquiry. From Aristotle to Vladimir Propp and from Percy Lubbock to Wayne Booth, the critics and philosophers who are regarded today as the pioneers of narrative theory were not c oncerned with narrative proper but with particular literary *genres, such as *e pic poetry, *drama, the *folktale, the *novel or more generally *fiction, short for Â‘narrative literary fi ctionÂ’. It was the legacy of French structuralism, more particularly of Roland Barthes and Claude Bremond, to have emancipated narrative from literatu re and from fiction, and to have recognised it as a *semiotic phe nomenon that transce nds disciplines and *media (see structuralist narratology)Â… Contemporary uses of the term Â“narrativeÂ” No sooner had narrative come of age as a theoretical concep t than it began to invade fields as diverse as *histor iography, *medicine, *law, *psychoanalysis, and *ethnography (see narrative turn in the humanities). This territorial expansion was accompanied by a semantic broadening that liberated narrative not only from literary forms, but from any kind of textual support. A decisive influence on the current uses of narrati ve was Jean-Franois LyotardÂ’s concept of Â‘Grand NarrativeÂ’ (see master narrative), as outlined in The Postmodern Condition (Lyotard, 1979, pp. 27-47). Lyotar d contrasts a Â‘narrativeÂ’ type of knowledge, typical of ancient societies, where *truth is guaranteed by the special
13 status of the storyteller within the comm unity, with a *scientific type in which *authors are supposed to provide proof of th eir claims. But scientific discourse is unable to guarantee its own validity, since it rejects authority. During the nineteenth century, science sought leg itimation in what Lyotard calls Â‘Grand NarrativesÂ’: sweeping explanations that present scientific knowledge as the instrument of the historical self-reali sation of an allegorical *hero variously named Reason, Freedom, the State, or the Human Spirit (see allegory). Three features distinguish Â‘Grand NarrativesÂ’ from the little stories t hat we exchange in daily life: they concern abst ract entities rather than concrete individuals (see character; existent); they may exist as collective beliefs rather than as the message of particular texts; and they inherit the foundati onal role of *myth with respect to society rather than being told for their *anecdotal or entertainment value. Little stories and Grand Narratives share a temporal dimension, but while the former simply recount historical (or pseudo-historical) *events, the latter deal directly with a capitalised History. The tacit existence of the Grand Narratives, as well as their explanatory and abstract nature, paved the way toward the Â‘Narratives of Race, Class, and GenderÂ’ or the Â‘Narratives of IdentityÂ’ of contemporary cultural studies (see cu ltural-studies approaches to narrative; narrative explanation). The increasing popularity of the term narra tive also reflects th e epistemological crisis of contemporary culture. Â‘NarrativeÂ’ is what is left when belief in the possibility of knowledge is eroded. The fre quently heard phrase Â‘the narratives of scienceÂ’, popular in the new field of scie nce studies, carries the implication that
14 scientific discourse does not reflect bu t covertly constructs reality, does not discover truths but fabricat es them according to the rules of its own game in a process disturbingly compar able to the overt working of narrative fiction. (Ryan, 2005, pp. 344-348). Narrative Universals, narrative universals are features of a story or discourse that recur across a greater number of ge netically and really unrelated traditions than predicted by chanceÂ…geneticall y unrelated if they have different originsÂ…absolute universals need not be found in every narrative, only in every narrative traditionÂ…(Hogan, 2005, p.384). Paradigm from Saussure semioticians have taken the notion that every sign exists in its code as part of a paradigm, a system of relationships that connect it to other signs by resemblance and difference, befo re the sign appears in an utterance. In language, a word is paradigmatically rela ted to synonyms, antonyms, other words with the same roots, words that soun d like it, and so on. The paradigmatic structure offers the potential field for substitutions that result in metaphors, puns, metonyms and other figure s (Scholes, 1982, p. 146). Pragmatics, essentially the investigation into language use and language as it relates to interpreters and us ers (Green & LeBihan, 1996, p.43). Semantics, the study of meaning in language. Area s of semantics include lexical
15 semantics and text semantics, which is the investigation into the semantic relations of whole texts (Green & LeBihan, 1996, p.43). Signified, In Saussure this is th e concept, which, linked to a particular soundimage, constitutes a sign. But the notion of Â“conceptÂ” has proved too fixed, too mentalistic, for later semiologists like Rol and Barthes. The term Â“signifiedÂ” is still useful as a way of talking about a signÂ’s meaning without raising the question of reference, but in other ways it has lost much of its usefulness (Scholes, 1982, pp. 147-148). Signifier, the acoustic image that, linked to a concept, constitutes a sign in Saussurean linguistics. Later semiologi sts, following Barthes and Lacan have rejected the notion of any fixed c onnection between si gnifier and signified, arguing that signifiers Â“float,Â” attracting signifieds which merge with them to become signifiers for still other signifieds. The general result of this has been to debase the word signified and to create conf usionÂ…it is safe to say that neither term has an precise meaning at presentÂ— which perhaps justifies the semiological position on the matter (Scholes, 1982, p. 148). Story as opposed to discourse, story refers to the events and situations evoked by a narrative text. As opposed to plot (in the theories of the Russian formalists and others) it refers to the events in th eir chronological order, despite any rearrangements in the plottingÂ… In current semiotic theory the story or diegesis is
16 always a production of the reader of a t ext, based on the signs in the text but never totally controlled by them (Scholes, 1982, p. 148). Symbol In PeirceÂ’s terminology this word has a precise meaning, referring to that type of sign which signi fies by virtue of an arbitr ary, conventional habit of usage. The Saussurean sign, in which signi fier and signified are connected by convention only, in an arbitrary or Â“unmo tivatedÂ” manner, is equivalent to the Peirceian symbolÂ…It is al so important that Peirce goes on to name two signfunctions (iconic and indexical) that ar e not arbitrary or conventional, while SaussureÂ’s followers simply extend Saussure Â’s notion of the linguistic sign or word to all signs, verbal and nonverbal (Scholes, 1982, p. 148). Syntagam, In post-Saussurian linguistics this word is opposed to paradigm. Paradigm refers to a wordÂ’s connection with other words in language as a whole outside of any particular utterance. Synt agam refers to a wordÂ’s relation to other words within a particular speech act or ut terance. Meaning is obviously a matter of both syntagmatic and paradigmatic functions. Because speech always expresses itself as a flow of verbal sign s in time, syntagmatic functions are sometimes called linear (Scholes, 1982, p. 149). Tall tale stories that the narrator does not be lieve but that are supposed to dupe the nave listener, are particularly asso ciated with the U.S. frontier, although variants of such stories were well known in earlier times in Europe and Asia. In the United States, tall tales were presented to the city dweller as true pictures of
17 life out West. They rely on their comic effort on the incongruity between sober narration and fantastic elements in th e stories themselves (Coffin, 2005). Urban legend, contemporary stories that are set in an urban environment and reported as true (sometimes in newspape rs) but that contain patterns and motifs that reveal their legendary character. The context of these legends may be contemporary, but the stories reflect timeless concerns about urban living, including privacy, death, decay, and vermin (Coffin, 2005).
18 Chapter Two: Literature Review Wagging the Tale This chapter surveys structural and post-s tructural approaches to evaluating text and applies these approaches to an examinati on of the way folklore functions. It explores literature regarding the idea of social and psychological need as a motivation for the way stories are told, why stories are told in a certain way, and how this socio-psychological need is part of the dynamic that helps to perpetuate the storytelling tradition. It also examines how lack propels the narrative a nd how lack of personal story or narrative identity within a culture might necessitate th e folktale function of the news story, and suggests how finding folktales in the news might satisfy the psychodynamic aspect of the folktale function. Between 1936 and 1940, folklore and soci al-ethnic studies produced by the Federal WritersÂ’ Project were collected and documented, providing a sketch of living history known as the Â“Folklore Project.Â” Thes e sketches, collections of songs, interviews, stories, and customs from geographies thr oughout America, were Â“narrativesÂ…meant to reflect the ordinary personÂ’s struggle with the vicissitude s of daily livingÂ” (Folklore Project, October 19, 1998). These narratives were collected to become part of a: composite and comprehensive portra it of various groups of people in AmericaÂ…the quality of collecting and wr iting lore varies fro m state to state, reflecting the skills of the interviewer-w riters and the superv ision they received. (Folklore Project, October 19, 1998)
19 These interviews with everyday people, and en counters with their cu stoms and traditions, are living histories of people who helped com pose the world we humans live in and give it context. The interviews that journalists do today with everyday people perform a similar socio-cultural function to this folklo re. The sketches of ev eryday people that we find daily in our local newspaper docum ent the culture in which we live: Mrs. Yahn will be 88 on her next birthday. Her white hair is piled neat and proper as one of her maps. She wears big glasse s, dangly earrings and a flowered blue dress. She speaks in a low, elegant voice she never raises even when she is taken aback by a request like the one she still tells folks about. Â‘MaÂ’am,Â’ said the preacher. Â‘I want to bring the lord to ever y prison in the United States.Â’ Mrs. Yahn sighed that day and got out a bunch of maps. (Klinkenberg, June 20, 2005, p.1E) These character sketches in the local section of the newspaper provide a series of focused frames, that when united as a composite, illu strate the neighborhood of which we are all a part. They are the human interest stories of day-to-day life in the neighborhood. As Jan Brunvand (1998) suggests, such storie s are the Â“loreÂ” of the Â“folk.Â” Folklore is defined by Jan Brunvand as Â“custom-related,Â” passing by word of mouth and Â“never transmitted entirely in a formal manner through printed books, phonograph records, school classes, church sermons, or by other le arned, sophisticated, commercial meansÂ” (Brunvand, 1998, p. 12). Folklore retains, at its essence, the need to be passed on from one mouth to another, to remain malleable and alive. For Brunvand, folklore: is traditional in two senses in that it is passed on repeatedly in a relatively fixed or standard form, and it circulates among me mbers of a particular group. Traditional
20 form or structure allows us to recognize bits of folklore in different guises. The characters in a story, the se tting, the length, the style, even the language may vary, but we can still call it th e Â“sameÂ” story if it maintains a basic underlying form. (Brunvand, 1998, p.12) News stories in the local section of the newspa per are traditional in the sense that they are printed in a standard inverted pyramid fo rm and they are distributed among the local population within the neighborhood. For Brunvand (1998), both the traditional fixed form and circulation must be found t ogether to claim that somethi ng is legitimate folklore. In addition, true folklore must be both oral and repeated. Conversations are oral, but not all conversations are repeated. Legal processes are recorded orally and distributed in a traditional form, but they are not considered folklore (Brunvand, 1998). It is only when the orally given story is repeat ed in a fixed form and distri buted to a certain group that it takes on the shape of folklore: Only those aspects of culture that are both oral or customary and traditional may be folklore; thus, there may be traditiona l folk stories, proverbs, or gestures passed on either in conversations or in courtroom arguments and testimony. These items are legitimate examples of folklore. (Brunvand, 1998, p.13) When a journalist interviews through conversations, repeat s or quotes parts of those conversations in the news story, writes the st ory in standardized fo rm that the newspaper passes the story on to the local community th rough printed publica tion, then the news story takes on the quality of legitimate folklore according to BrunvandÂ’s definition. Another key element in BrunvandÂ’s definition of fo lklore is that it is orally repeated as part of folk tradition, circulated through a culture, and never repr oduced entirely through
21 print or commercial means. For the commercially printed news story to retain its folklore quality, it must be passed on orally in th e local community. The news story must be talked about and become part of the oral tradition. Anderson, Dardenne and Killenberg (1994) explain the ideal of jour nalism Â“News is what people talk about, and news makes people talk.Â” Using this expanded definition, the tradi tional American slave tales of Uncle Remus recorded in 1880 by journalist Joel Chandl er Harris were legitimate folklore if they were told orally to Harris, repeated by Harris to the local community, reproduced commercially in print, and then retold oral ly (Brasch, 2000). The retelling of the tale, even once it has been commercialized, feeds ba ck into the oral tradition that is a key element in defining legitimate folklore. Folklore then, is in part defi ned by the nature of its telling, or retelling: In contrast to the modern story writerÂ’s striving after originality of plot and treatment, the teller of a folktale is pr oud of his ability to hand on that which he has received. He usually desires to impress his readers or hearers with the fact that he is bringing them something that has the stamp of good author ity, that the tale was heard from some great storyteller or from some aged person who remembers it from old days. (Thompson, 1977, p. 4) Repeating the tale gives it the appearan ce of validity. Similarly, the journalist Â“hands onÂ” that which he or she has learned through interview or authority to validate a news story. The reader of the news story Â“h ands onÂ” through conversation what he or she has read, the newspaper provi ding the stamp of validity. Re porting, though, as Elliott (2004) stresses, cannot simply be repeati ng. A broader explanation of the folklore
22 function of the local neighborhood news story, then, may be defined as preserving not just the local, cultural voice through interview, but also th e theme, function, and context of that voice. Context lends a sense of place and identity to the local voice. This preservation of what people find important, their cultural artifacts, through word of mouth, is an essential Â“fol kÂ” function of conversationa l storytelling (Shuman, 2005, p. 178). In this respect, the journalist who reports the local neighborhood news, interviewing local people and describing even ts that happen and have meaning for them, is functioning as a kind of local folktale-telle r. While this definition of the Â“folkÂ” function explains how and to whom traditional folklo re is delivered, it does not define the Â“loreÂ” or form that the text takes or the function of that form. The Â“loreÂ” or text of traditional folklore and its function will be explored in some depth in the analysis portion of this study. Together, the narrative text or Â“loreÂ” of the tale and the cultural function or Â“folkÂ” of traditional folklore Â“rep resent(s) what people preserve in their culture through the generations by custom and word of mouth wh en few other means exist to preserve itÂ” (Brunvand, 1998, p.23). The traditional form of the folktale is oral and malleable. The traditional function of the folktale is to preserve, to repeat, and to show what local culture traditionally values and disparages. The local print news story is written in a traditional form. The local news journalist performs a traditional folk function by preserving the local collection of stories, repeating or quoting trusted sour ces of local information, and sharing news that the local culture values and repeats. Elliott (2004) desc ribes one of the essential functions of the journalistic voice as Â“reliance on old news to give day-to-day stories contextÂ” (Elliott, 2004, p.30). In this sense, the serial of news a nd traditional serial of folk story themes
23 could provide the background and context that helps cultures form identity and meaning. The cultural function of the folktale a nd the news story appears to broadcast parallel from the word of mouth of the fo lktale teller and the wo rd of mouth of the journalist: Â“Seeing news as narrat ive representing culture thus allows us to study it as a symbolic model of cultural values in an atte mpt to uncover the partic ular configurations characteristic of a given cultureÂ’s newsÂ” (Bird & Dardenne, 1988, p. 76). The form of the message, or Â“lore,Â” is a physical cultural artifa ct of the invisible architecture of meaning, and as such, may be scrutinized in the construction of meaning from words, through text. In scru tinizing local lore a nd local news in its text form in the analysis, this study will examine how the func tions of local lore and local news might intersect to impact local folks socially and psychologically by forming meaning in their cultural sphere: Instead of measuring the content, mean ing, and truth of intellectual forms by something extraneous, which is supposed to be reproduced in them, we must find in these forms themselves the measure a nd criterion for their truth and intrinsic meaning. (Cassirer, 1946, p.8) In modern mass-mediated cultures, Â“m ediated narratives have replaced folk narratives in most peoplesÂ’ livesÂ” (Bird, 2003, p.162). The fine line between news and Â“loreÂ” intersects in a cultural evaluation of the way the two story forms overlap: We tend to think of news and folklore as the opposite of each other; news is factual and verifiable, while legends ar e false and unverifiable. Recently, cultural researchers have sought to show that the line between news and legend is not so clear (e.g., Bird & Dardenne 1988; Bird 1992 a; Lule 2001; Oring 1990; Smith
24 1992). News, like folklore and myth, is a cultural construction, a narrative that tells a story about things of importance or interest. Journalists like to think that news somehow mirrors reality, that it object ively describes events; news is Â“out thereÂ” and to be discovered. But clearly news is not Â“out there.Â” News does not exits until it is written, until it becomes a story, and what is deemed newsworthy owes as much to our cultural conceptions of what makes a Â“good storyÂ” as it does to ideas of importance or significance. St udent journalists are encouraged by their textbooks to Â“find the storyÂ” in an event, using the same kind of criteria-conflict, drama, novelty-as a good oral storyteller. (Bird, 2003, p. 149) Another important function of news writing, then, is to find the story. As taught in journalism school, story is the variation or in trigue in the constant stream of everyday events. Story, as defined by Sc holes, (1982) refers to the ev ents and situations evoked by narrative text. Story as defined by formalis ts including Propp, (1968) is the product of chronological functions. For semioticians, st ory is ultimately a production of infinite interpretation (Scholes, 1982, p.82). Story, for Eco, (1994) deconstructed to the point of Â“unlimited semiosis,Â” becomes nonsense unl ess critical reader s agree on certain consistent thematic pattern s alongside the variations. The folktale function in the news st ory provides a consistent theme for the variation of news stories. Ne ws writing, by nature periodical and regular, is part of a Â“dialectic between scheme and variationÂ…whe re the variation is no more appreciable than the schemeÂ” (Eco, 1994, pp. 97-98). This consistent theme is as important as variation to story, and should be evaluated as a key element of story (Eco, 1994, p. 96). A critical reading of news stories should include an evaluation of them es. Prior studies have
25 established that: News shares characteristics with oral lit erature, myth, traditional tales, ballads, literature, family histories, and other form s of cultural narrative. This view of news content as a cultural document in which people create shared meanings shifts the emphasis from news as isolated segments of the dayÂ’s realities. Rather, news can be considered significant in part because in creating realities, it creates order, and further, this part icular kind of ordering can be seen, like literature and myth, as a cultural activity with it s own history. (Anderson, Dardenne & Killenberg, 1994, p. 158) This study provides a reading of the folklore theme as a function of story text in the news-making tradition. In describing the bi rth of modern newspa pers and their strong connection to local community life, Michael Schudson hints at the folkloric theme of news writing: Newspapers benefited from the experience of city life as a spectacle, and they contributed to it. They provided their readers a running account of the marvels and mysteries of urban life. The Â“action j ournalismÂ” of Pulitzer, and later Hearst, created new marvels. (Schudson, 1978) The marvels and mysteries of local everyday life can become news, diffused through the oral tradition of interviewing. During the inte rview process, Â“sources provide stories and legend becomes newsÂ” (Bird, 2003, p.150). Journalis ts themselves act in the role of traditional tale tellers in this respect: Â“Certain ly, journalists set the news agenda, and they undoubtedly may function as aut horitative scribes, but they are not outside the daily rhythms of culture anymore than are trad itional myth-makers and storytellersÂ” (Bird,
26 2003, p.160). Not only do modern journalists re porting the local news may fulfill the traditional role of storyteller, as well as satisfying the traditional function of the folktale teller, embedded in the community that is the source of stories. In journalism, local news storytelling may be an importa nt thread woven through the cultural text of the community and local news that traditionally provides th e everyday Â“loreÂ” for and of the Â“folks.Â” Through the Smoking Mirror Whether or not the local Â“loreÂ” capture d in the daily newspaper are accurate reflections of the local community is at the heart of the quest for truth in journalism. News stories, as products of journalism, are driven by attention to accuracy and fact and the ideal of objectivity. As such, news stor ies should mirror places, faces, and events. First-person eye-witness accounts and quotes fr om trusted sources a ll support the pursuit of relaying truth through stor y. This study does not debate th e ideal of truth-seeking in the news. Rather, it asks how exploring the feas ibility of finding a folktale function in the local news might help illuminate more of th e picture of news-making to include a look behind the lens, at the subjectiv e nature of storytelling that is part of news story-making. As Michael Schudson (1967) point s out, Â“in the past decade critics of objectivity have often pictured themselves as lonely expone nts of a viewpoint w ithout support in the traditions of journalism.Â” One might argue that inquisitive journalism must investigate its roots. In looking at the way news stories are told and expl oring the folktale function of text within them, this initial study will begin to flesh an idea of the way the local news story might function textually as part of the folklore of a local culture. Linguistics studies both the form and functi on of text. In its print form, news story
27 text is static and dissectible. The oral or retelling function of the text is a fluid medium for meaning-making within a culture. Cultura l literacy, part of the highly subjective meaning-making process, Â“is not only consti tuted by peopleÂ’s variab le abilities to read and write but as peopleÂ’s cu ltural knowledge, however that knowledge is achieved, and here one might locate oral culture in addi tion to print cultureÂ” (Preston & Preston, 1995, p.xi). By seeking the textual a nd functional characteristics of the folktale in the news story, this study will strive for a close critical reading that may build the scaffolding for an exploration of the notion of news writing as a dynamic of cultural literacy. A survey of some methodologies of lite rary analysis will help illuminate the treatment of the text in the analysis. The tradit ional structural literary analysis of text is dominated by paradigmatic and syntagmatic approaches. The paradigmatic approach, developed by Lvi-Strauss (1969), who applied st ructural analysis to myth, is illustrated in the internal oppositio n within folkloric text. The synt agmatic approach, as outlined by Vladimir Propp (1968), views recurrent story f unctions as the syntax for all tales. As Scholes (1982) explains, meaning is a produc t of both the syntagmatic and paradigmatic functions. ProppÂ’s linear approach to dissecting the cultural text of the tale is more concerned with the static folktale syntax bui lt out of the consistent sequential appearance of folktale functions and motifs in all folktale s. For Propp, the tale travels in a line from a beginning point to an end point. The functi ons of each stop along the narrative sequence create the structure of the tale. Text, for Lvi -Strauss, is segmented into layers of myths that derive their meanings, in part, from internal conflict. A tale about a god who is called Â“Feather ed SerpentÂ” and a god who is called
28 Â“Smoking Mirror,Â” for Lvi-Strauss, might repr esent the conflict betw een the god of truth and the god of illusion on one level and the conflict between perception and reality on another. For Propp, the tale of Quetzalcoatl, or Â“Feathered Serpent, Â” would be concerned with the syntax of the text and the sequence of functions th at shape the tale. First, the hero, Quetzalcoatl, peaceful god of learning, is introduced. Ne xt, sequentially, the hero is pursued by a treacherous villain and rival god, Smoking Mirror. The villain then gets the hero drunk one night after seducing him into drinking a potion he claims is a medicine and the hero commits a series of shameful acts of debauchery. After recovering from the potion, the hero learns of his misdeeds and leav es in disgrace, setting off to sea and exile, but not before vowing to return one day. Qu etzalcoatl does return on the exact day he prophesized, in the form of a ship from th e sea carrying a conquist ador who brings the empire to its knees, largely in reverence of the myth of the Feathered SerpentÂ’s return (Cotterell, 1980). For Propp, the Quetzalcoatl tale would exhibit sequential syntax consistently found in all folktales. For Lvi-S trauss, the Quetzalcoatl tale would illustrate hero battling villain in a narrative driven by fate, contrast providing the shape and definition of the myth. Initial observations of th e way paradigmatic and syntagmatic approaches may be applied to text will be provided in the followi ng examples. In the local folktale, Â“WalterÂ’s Cove,Â” labeled as Folktale A (Appendix A) Lvi-Strauss might see the myth-based conflict between the real world and the marv el of the otherworld and the narratorÂ’s struggle to understand the otherw orldly apparition of the key character of Walter, a figure who perished, according to local legend, in a hurricane years past (Geegan, 2004). ProppÂ’s approach might analyze the narrative sequence of the story for characteristic
29 folktale functions. Lvi-StraussÂ’ approach mi ght show the conflict between the idea of narrator as hero and ghost as villain and narra tor as victim and ghost as donor. Similarly, in the local news story, Â“For the sake of his namesake,Â” labe led as News Story A (Appendix C), Lvi-Strauss might view the my thic conflict between the noble father and seedy underworld that threatens the fatherÂ’s impressionable son (Vansickle, February 27, 2005, p. 1A). Propp might step through each pl ot point in the news storyÂ’s narrative sequence to illustrate its folktale functions. The text in the local Folktale A and News Story A, evaluated functionally using both th e paradigmatic or syntagmatic approaches outlined by Lvi-Strauss and Propp, exhibit a ra nge of folktale characteristics. When compared, both Folktale A and News Story A e xhibit myths, motifs, characters, and plot sequence all characteristic of the classi c folktale (Table 1 and Figure 2). Using the syntagmatic structural approac h, ProppÂ’s dissection of the functions and motifs of the folktale introduces the idea of basic narrative function and sequential patterns in the folktale. For Propp, the narrativ e sequence of functions in the folktale is always static: ProppÂ’s seminal work, although explicitly lim ited to the Russian folk tale, has in fact generally been evoked as the paradigm of narrative as such, and of so-called quest-romance in particular, in that it allows us to reformulate or rewrite the episodes of individual romance texts as an invariable sequence of Â‘functions,Â’ or in other words, as a fixed form. (Jameson, 1981, p. 119) This fixed form becomes part of the seque ntial narrative structur e that Propp further qualifies within the folktale functions: 1.) Functions of characters serve as st able, constant elements in the tale,
30 independent of how and by whom they are fulfilled. They constitute the fundamental components of a tale. 2.) The number of functions known to the fairy tale is limited. 3.) The sequence of functions is always identical. 4.) All fairy tales are of one type in regard to their structure. (Propp, 1968, pp. 21-24) The narrative sequence a nd functions in the news story, th en, must parallel the Proppian functions in order to fit ProppÂ’s syntagmatic definition of folktale. As the Proppian story analysis of News Story A and Folktale A s uggests, (Table 1 and Fi gure 2) the sequence of functions within the news story text can satisfy ProppÂ’s folktale functions. This data suggests that the text in the news story can function like a folktale, providing a scheme of myths, motifs, characters, and plot sequence familiar to classic folklore. The focus on sequential function excludes the role of unique character in folktale. For Propp, the characters are interchangeable fa ces, defined by their functions within the sequence of the folktale. Folktale charact ers, for Propp (1968), are classified as malleable, redefined in each story segment according to their functions. Their human characteristics: the broad spectrum of va riable socio-political and psychological motivations, are ignored in the syntagmatic stru ctural analysis. Charac ters in the Proppian analysis are purely utilitarian, classified according to their designated functions. The shading and nuance of their characteristics are obscured. They are defined simply by what they do: We may now reformulate our earlier di agnosis of the semiotic ideal of formalization in the more practical te rms of our objection to classifactory
31 operations. From this point-of-view, what is problematic about ProppÂ’s characterfunctions (hero, donor, villain) or GreimasÂ’ more formalized actants emerges when it turns out that we are merely bei ng asked to drop the various elements of the surface narrative into these various prepared slots. (Jameson, 1981, p. 125) In evaluating text in the Proppian view of the folktale, a defi ned set of dramatis personae, present themselves. The folktale function in the news story, then, mi ght be perceived as presenting formulaic versions of the true story and stereotypical portrayals or cookiecutter renderings of real peopl e. Both sampled News Story A and Folktale A exhibit the characteristic dramatis personae. The local ne ws story contains all eight of the traditional dramatis personae, which include Â“Villain,Â” Â“Donor,Â” Â“Helper,Â” Â“Princess,Â” Â“Her Father,Â” Â“Dispatcher,Â” Â“Hero,Â” and Â“False He ro.Â” The presence of these personae, guided and defined by their functions, further indicates the presence of the fo lktale functions at work in the news story (Table 1-D). Folktales, defined in part by their apparent malleability and reinterpretation and diffusion through culture, are formalized, or form ularized, according to their functions in the structuralist universe. The function, the motif and even the sequence itself, in the Proppian view, is stat ic and irreversible: Â…what is ultimately irreducib le in ProppÂ’s analysis is simply narrative diachrony itself, the movement of storytelling in time. To characterize this movement in terms of Â“irreversibilityÂ” is then to pr oduce not a solution, but rather the problem itself. (Jameson, 1981, p. 122) ProppÂ’s functions, so formalized: fail to attain an adequate level of abstractionÂ…Yet what was powerful and
32 attractive about the method from the outset was precisely the possibility it offered of reducing a wealth of empirical or su rface narrative events to a much smaller number of abstract or Â“deep -structuralÂ” moments. Such a reduction allows us not only to compare narrative text s which seem very different from one another; it also allows us to simplify a single in volved narrative into redundant surface manifestations of a single recu rrent function. (Jameson, 1981, p. 120) The redundant manifestations of function in Pr oppÂ’s diagram of the folktale suggest so many spots on a larger body of myth. Part of what is operating beneath the surface of the syntax is a struggle for meaning. Both motifs and myths help form m eaning in stories. Stith Thompson outlined more than twenty motif types for the t ypical folktale, including Â“mythological,Â” Â“animals,Â” Â“tabu,Â” Â“magic,Â” Â“the dead,Â” Â“marve ls,Â” Â“ogres,Â” Â“tests,Â” Â“the wise and the foolish,Â” Â“deceptions,Â” Â“reversal of fortune,Â” Â“ordaining the future,Â” Â“chance and fate,Â” Â“society,Â” Â“rewards and punishments,Â” Â“capti ves and fugitives,Â” Â“unnatural cruelty,Â” Â“sex,Â” Â“religion,Â” Â“traits and characters ,Â” Â“humor,Â” and Â“miscellaneous groups and motifsÂ” (Thompson, 1977, p.481). This internal struggle for meaning within the text provides the conflict, and thus the paradigm of meaning. As bridges to meaning, the motifs appear in equal parts in News Story A and Folktale A (Table 1-C). In both News Story A and in Folktale A, half of all the total Folktale Motifs presented. Not only is the folktale motif present in the news story labeled News Story A, it is present in the story labeled Folktale A to the same degree, indicating that the ne ws story has as many folktale motifs as the folktale. Motif, as part of th e structure of story syntax, functions as meaning-maker in both the news story and the folktale.
33 Myth provides the deep structure for Lvi -Strauss, and the conflict between myths reveals the scaffolding of the cultural narra tive. The idea of an underlying structure beneath the formulaic surface details forma lized by Propp and later explored by LviStrauss, approaches cultural te xt as an artifact of the inte rnal struggle within culture and politics: Â“Lvi-StraussÂ’s work suggests that the proposition whereby all cultural artifacts are to be read as symbolic resolutions of real political and social c ontradictions deserves serious exploration and systematic experi mental verificationÂ” (Jameson, 1981, p. 80). If the local news story is a neighborhood artifact that illustrates plot resolution of real political, social, and mythic conflicts, then it deserves serious explor ation as an indicator of cultural literacy. In real life, and in the news stories port raying real life, plot resolutions are not always plausible endings to c onflict. Drama, wit hout resolution, is a fact of life. In exploring the evidence of Lvi-Straussian conf licts and resolutions in the news story, this study finds evidence of a folktale quality in the news that closely parallels myth. Using Lvi-StraussÂ’s paradigmatic appr oach, this study searches for inherent contrasting patterns within the text that cr eate the shape of mean ing. In exploring the deeper structure of myth, I find a connec tion between character and socio-political function and meaning. For Lvi-Strauss, myth is metaphor in the making, a study in contrasts that shows us truth through contrasting dark and ligh t. Myth is not a lie that obscures, but a reflection, a cultural metaphor that suggests who we are: Â…thanks to the myths, we discover that metaphors are based on an intuitive sense of the logical relations between one real m and other realms; metaphor reintegrates the first realm with the totality of the othe rs, in spite of the fact that reflective
34 thought struggles to separate them. Metaphor far from being a decoration that is added to language, purifies it and restor es it to its orig inal nature, through momentarily obliterating one of the innumerable synecdoche that make up speech. (Lvi-Strauss, 1969, p. 339) Contrasts among the meanings for myths provide the layers and depth of the stories they inhabit. A myth about rain-maki ng, for example, is not just a meteorological forecast or a story about an archetypal deluge. It also contains shards of descriptions that inform about the social condition and the importance of rain-making within the mythÂ’s own culture. A news story about a month-long local rain, similarly, is not just part of the news almanac or a piece of the flood myth. The story may also inform about the social or psychological impact of the month-long ra in on the population. For Lvi-Strauss, the multiplicity of meaning is part of the tale. In viewing onl y one application of meaning, myth functions as a myopically observed stereotype: Â“To give only one example, caricature consists in the emphatic exploitati on of a visual feature, a process that is prompted not by the desire to reduplicate the model, but by the inte ntion of making some function or aspect meaningfulÂ” (Lvi-Strauss, 1969, p. 340). Jack Lule suggests that Â“like myth, news o ffers the steady repeti tion of stories, the rhythmic recurrence of themes and events Â” (Lule, 2001, p.19). How this steady diet of formulaic themes in local news stories affects cultural literacy is e xplored in some depth in LuleÂ’s (2001) critical read ing of the myth function in the news. The function of the Â“master mythsÂ” in the news story might be directly related to the socio-psychological function of preserving the status quo in the news story through repetition and reinforcement of myth (Lule, 2001). The myths of Â“Victim,Â” Â“Scapegoat,Â” Â“Hero,Â”
35 Â“Trickster,Â” Â“Other World,Â” Â“Good Mother,Â” and the Â“FloodÂ” re gularly appear in storytelling. As Lvi-Strauss explored, the myth ic paradigm helps st ories resonate with meaning. As Jack Lule suggests in his applicatio n to news stories, myth can also be used to draw connections between real people in th e news and mythic functions. When myth is repeatedly appropriated to illustrate peopl e or cultures in the news, he suggests, dangerous stereotypes are reinforced. The saga of Mike TysonÂ’s criminal trial, for Lule, takes on storybook proportions when: Â“Jim Murra y of the Los Angeles Times wrote that Â‘Mike Tyson comes into public focus as a combination Jack the Ripper and BluebeardÂ’Â” (Lule, 2001, p. 131). News stories invested wi th myth and stereotype run the risk of characterizing people as caricatures of themse lves. In the stories sampled, News Story A exhibited more of the Â“master mythsÂ” than Fo lktale A, showing evidence of the element of myth in the news (Table 1-A). To what extent these discovered myths within news stories act to reinforce stereo types or make meanings could be the subject of a more indepth relational analysis of the text. The actual definition of mrchen, or fa irytale, from the Old High German, originally meant news or gossip, so the tie be tween fairytale and news has some historical foundation (Zipes, 1979). In a neighborhood news article from the local newspaper, Â“The princess maker,Â” the journalist describes the fairytale quality of the Sweet Pea Pageants and its prima-Donna contestants and fair y-godmotheresque pageant model manager (Spicuzza, July 24, 2005, p. 1E). This modern news article from the local paper shows the reader a rhinestone fairytale spectrum of superficial pageant details, supplemented by insights into the motivations of the real princess-maker, Miss Dee. Lvi-Strauss explains that, at its best, myth functions as layers of meaning rather
36 than as a one-dimensional stereo type within a tale, and its distinctive characteristic is its ability to be viewed from different levels, dense with layers of metaphorical meaning: It can thus be understood how mistaken those mythologists were who supposed that the natural phenomena which figure so largely in myths are trying to explain. This mistake forms a simple counterpart to another, committed by those mythologists who, in reacting against their predecessors (the latter were themselves reacting against the other type of interpretation), tried to reduce the meaning of myths to a moralizing commen t on the situation of mankind and made them into an explanation of love and deat h or pleasure and suffering, instead of an account of the phases of the moon and seas onal changes. In both cases there was a failure to grasp the distinctive character of myths, which is a precisely emphatic statement, resulting from the multiplication of one level by another or several others, and which, as in language, serves to indicate areas of meaning. (LviStrauss, 1969, p. 340) Myth, then, may explain persona l characteristics by qualifying them as related to mythic characteristics. Myth exchanges real for metaphor what a thing is for what a thing is like: The multiplicity of levels appears then as the price that mythic thought has to pay in order to move from the continuous to the discreetÂ…Mythic thought only accepts nature on condition that it is able to reproduce it. By so doing, it limits itself to the choice of those formal prope rties by which nature can signify itself and which consequently are appropriate to metaphor. (Lvi-Strauss, 1969, p. 341) Perhaps the tie between the mythical princessmaker and the real Miss Dee, in the form of the local news story, Â“The princess maker,Â” gives myth a context in real affairs that
37 can make concrete what a thing is like (Spi cuzza, July 24, 2005, p. 1E). News stories can give readers illustrations of how local folks mi ght be like heroes or villains in fairytales, and in doing so, inform about what culture values through story illustration. On another level, as LuleÂ’s (2001) work of the stereotypi ng aspect of myth suggest s, news stories that show the reader how real people like Miss D ee are like fairy-tale helpers can obscure the rich details of realness, trading carefully-d rawn character sketches for shallow cartoon renderings that do little to inform the read er about reality. As a myth-maker in this respect, journalism provides a smudgy mirror of real life. Breaking the Looking Glass The post-structuralist reaction to ideas developed by Propp and Lvi-Strauss adds another layer of meaning to th e multi-dimensional interpretation of the folktale function of text: Ambiguity, multivalence, the fact that la nguage simply cannot be regarded as a clear and final exposition of what it says, is central both to science, and of course, to literatureÂ…for the same reason that you cannot make a single general statement about anything in the world which is really wholly delimited, wholly unambiguous, and divided the world into two pieces. (Bronowski, 1978, p. 106) In exploring the ambiguous nature of the symbols that compose language and meaning, the post-structuralist approach to linguistics introduces a morphing le ns that deconstructs meaning in much the same way the folktale its elf is diffused and takes on new meaning in new cultural contexts. Reading the news stor y, Â“The princess make r,Â” most readers are familiar with the character of the princess from fairytales. In fact, if the reader is not
38 familiar with the universal symbolism of a fa irytale princess, a layer of meaning within the story is lost. The parallel and contrast between the fairytale princess and the child pageant contestant is also lost. The news story illustrates how a pageant model manager is like a princess maker and how a pageant cont estant is like a pr incess. The fairytale concepts of princess maker and princess are part of a shared fairytale heritage that convey a culturally universal meaning. By understand ing the reference to the fairytale in the news story, the reader can see how the char acters are like and unlike their fairytale counterparts. The news story illustrates a re al event, and contrast s it with a well-known fairytale. What is less easy to know, is th e implied meaning of Â“princess maker.Â” The Â“princess makerÂ” could be a benevolent moth er figure or a child pageant pimp. How the reader perceives the character is dependent on a broad spectrum of personal and cultural beliefs that contribute to the infinite multiplicity and subjectivity of meaning. Where Bronowski (1978) introduces the idea of an absence of one universal truth in language and understanding, DorÂ’s (2004) tran slation of Lacan introduces the idea of floating signifiers, meanings in constant flux. Bo th discourses confront the idea of a static underlying structural understand ing or significance. In post-st ructuralism, ProppÂ’s stable sequential functions and even Lvi-StraussÂ’ recurring contrasting patterns are morphed and become elastic in the unstable universe of multiple interpretation. In this poststructural story world, lacking foundational stab ility, Lacan (2004) suggests that the lack of structure and meaning itself may be a motivation for tale-telling and myth-making. Lack of meaning contributes to the need fo r meaning, especially consistent meaning, in the form of the universal language of myth. To the storytellers of journalism, a lack of coverage can be seductive. For Ted
39 Conover, subject selection has much to do with the overlooked and underrepresented: Â“those that seem socially signi ficant and underreported, particul arly if they allow me to participate in the story in some meaningful wayÂ” (Conover, 2005, p.7). Meaning is unstable and language is a liv ing thing. For Lacan, the static structure of self is an illusion, where meaning is eith er condensed (in metaphor) or displaced (in metonymy). The unconscious, for Lacan, is like a language, where meaning is constantly constructed and deconstructed: In fact, the notion of structure is centr al to LacanÂ’s work only because of his frequent references to the structure of la nguage: first, insofar as it is this very structure that Lacan posits as related to the unconscious, and second, because it is in the act of language that the unconsc ious emerges and finds its locus of expression. (Dor, 2004, p. 23) LacanÂ’s version of the tale as a psychoanalyt ic narrative is of a tale whose meaning is constantly reinterpreted and diffused, in mu ch the same way that the meaning of the folktale or news story is diffuse d through cross-cultural adaptation. The essential binding mechanism for th e post-structural story world of the unconscious is the lack of and desire to fi nd meaning. For Lacan, the experience of the lack of meaning and desire to find mean ing is displaced by language. Language puts words in our mouths in an attempt to fu lfill the desire for meaning. This idea of psychological lack and desire to find meani ng propels language, story, and the folktale function in a post-structuralist universe. Th e absence of meaning and desire to find meaning is a sequential pattern, and there is synt ax to this linguistic rest and measure. It is this desire for resolution that propels the plot (Dor, 2004). It is perhaps the desire to
40 make meaning that propels the storyteller inside the journa list to use theme to explain variable news events. BronowskiÂ’s interpretation of language intr oduces the idea of seeing words or text beyond the terms of syntax or thematic functi on. This approach seek s an understanding of why words have certain meanings, why we unde rstand them in certain ways, and how our very consciousness is part of this symbolic system of language. In discussing consciousness and awareness, Br onowski (1978) alludes to the biblical inscription Â“In the beginning was the word and the word was made flesh.Â” He elaborates: Now our consciousness depends wholly on our seeing the outside world in such categories. And the problems of consciousness arise from putting reconstitution beside internalization from our also being able to see ourselves as if we were objects in the outside world. That is the ve ry nature of language ; it is impossible to have a symbolic system without it. (Bronowski, 1978, p.38) The metaphor and symbolism that is the self of story, for post-structur alists, is unstable, a thing determined by percepti on, interpretation, and by recomp osing the shattered pieces of the looking glass. Meanings, then, in st ories, are shattered, in flux, their meanings diffused. Only the lack of meaning and desi re for meaning remain constant, satisfied superficially by tales that te mporarily symbolize meaning through the language of their telling. The constant need to put fragments in to wholes drives the tale: Â“Of this ultimate intention the present volume is merely por tent and fragment, experiment, dissonant prologueÂ” (Agee, 1939, p. x1). This recurrent hunger for temporal satis faction through tale-telling may help explain the psychological need for the daily ne ws. The reader is given plot summary in
41 the local story headline: Â“For vet, duty is to stay activeÂ” (Davison, May 30, 2005, 1B). Staying active, the lead suggests, is the para lyzed veteranÂ’s duty. It is the given meaning for the veteranÂ’s story, and his present life. Th e details of his experi ence fall neatly into place as parts of duty. This story has a ring of traditional folk credence because other tales have been told like it. The brave soldier is a well-worn folk theme, and this brave soldier tale in the local news satisfies a psychological need for reinforcement. At the same time that the repetition of theme contribut es to the serial aspect of the periodical, the variation of this particular soldierÂ’s st ory personalizes the story, and makes it new and unique news. This story deserv es a close critical read fo r both the folktale theme and variation. As Eco explains, Â“when we fail to find innovation in the se rial, it is perhaps a result less of the structures of the text th an of our Â‘horizon of expectationsÂ’ and our cultural habitsÂ” (Eco, 1994, p. 93). In this veteranÂ’s story from the local ne wspaper, Harold Summers, a veteran of three wars, is described as keeping up Â“the good fight against total paralysisÂ” (Davison, May 30, 2005, 1B). Summers survived the wars, one day woke up paralyzed, but still, the article reads, Â“heÂ’s a surv ivorÂ” (Davison, May 30, 2005, 1B). The cause of the veteranÂ’s current condition is medically described as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a common cause of paralysis, which Summers disputes, believing hi s paralysis to be uniquely attributed to DDT and Agent Orange. In the article, Summer s argues that his situation and his story is unique. Despite SummersÂ’ unique story, the su rvivor theme remains a central myth. The article concludes with a paralyzed Summers safe in his bed, Â“under a sheet that reads Â‘Department of Veterans Affairs Proper ty --Not for SaleÂ’Â” (Davison, May 30, 2005, 1B). The survivor theme colors SummersÂ’ life, and gives a shade of meaning to his
42 present condition. The need to fi nd traditional myth themes in unique experiences is part of the meaning-making need illustrated by the ap plication of the traditional survivor myth in this news story. Finding Camelot John F. Kennedy (1962) said Â“The great enem y of the truth is very often not the lieÂ—deliberate, contrived, and dishonestÂ—but the mythÂ—persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.Â” Perhaps the key to understanding the psychological function of folktales is embedded in uncovering why they are so enchanting. The folktale functions, according to Zipes, (1979) to fulfill a socio-psychologi cal need for utopian endings and wish fulfillment. Zipes suggests one reason for the charm and persistence of the tales: The original autonomous power of the fo lk tales, their aura, which has been carried over into the fairy tales, was a so cial one, for they sought to celebrate humankindÂ’s capacity to transform the munda ne into the utopia n as part of a communal project. (Zipes, 1979, Preface xiii) Cultures have traditionally used folktales to celebrate humankindÂ’s ability to transform the real world into a better, or at the very least more dr amatic and significant place, through storytelling. TodayÂ’s version of the fo lktale is a marketable commodity, Â“ripped untimely from the socio-cultural setting in which it once flourishedÂ” (Zipes, 1979, p. 4). The oral form of the folktale has been transf ormed into mass-mediated and literary forms. Today, the folktale has become industry, fulf illing an economic need to produce product in a culture hungry for stories with utopian en dings. The local cultural identity that the folktale once preserved through narrative trad ition has been replaced by a mass mediated
43 cultural identity in the marketplace of the capit alistic tradition (Zipes, 1979). Originally, the folktale was a narrative fo rm cultivated by and for people to make sense of the physical and social neighborhood in which they lived. Taken out of the local social context in which it was embedded, the original folktale adapted to a new social context (Zipes, 1979). The inte rpretation of folktale, th en, remains variable and malleable. Black folktales, originally recorded commercially in America in the nineteenth century, were tales adapted to illustrate the plantation experience. The slave tales told stories in which the small clever rabbit out smarted the stronger and larger animals. As Virginia Hamilton (1985) explai ns, every time the slave te ller told of how the small rabbit outsmarted the intimida ting bear, fox, wolf or gator in the tales, the slave community celebrated another happy ending. Ha milton asks us to Â“remember that these folktales were once a creative way for an oppressed people to express their fears and hopes to one anotherÂ” (Hamilton, 1985, xii). Perhaps the promise of hope is what make s the folktale form so enchanting, and so persistent, in todayÂ’s mass mediated marketplace. Perhaps, the function of the folktale as a link to local cultural identity-making still exists in the form of the features in the neighborhood or local section of the daily newspaper. The f ourth chapter of this study will pay close attention to these local tales, th en, in the analysis of their content, because they may be telling our human story, the st ory of our local culture, and as such, they belong to us. Journalists are Â“handing onÂ” the stories that they colle ct for the reader and those stories may function as pa rt of the local cultural text.
44 Hope for Meaning The lore of the tale can provide meani ng by providing explanations or solutions, albeit fantastical, to seemi ngly unsolvable situations: stories are about people and their motiv ationsÂ—heroes and vi llains, good actions and bad actionsÂ…these explan ations require analyses th at transcend story forms, or they require story and narrative forms supplemented by analysis or commentary. (Anderson, Darde nne & Killenberg, 1994, p. 157) In part, this analysis attemp ts to provide a solid bridge for approaching the temporal nature of storytelling. The role of folktale as meaning-maker may help explain an aspect of folktaleÂ’s popularity as a story functi on in the news. Bruno Bettelheim (1977) views the fairy-tale solutions in terms of psychological functi ons in children: Translated in terms of human behavior, th e more secure a person feels within the world, the less he will need to hold on to Â“infantileÂ” projectionsÂ—mythical explanations or fairy-tale solutions to lifeÂ’s eternal problemsÂ—and the more he can afford to seek rational explan ations. (Bettelheim, 1977, p.51) The mythical explanation or fairy tale solu tion can provide a sense of security that Â“permits the child to develop that feeling of confidence in life which he needs in order to trust himselfÂ—a trust necessary for his lear ning to solve lifeÂ’s problems through his own growing rational abilitiesÂ” (B ettelheim, 1977, p.50). Fairytales in a positive capacity can also serve a moralizing role, instructing the child not to j udge other people by appearance: Belief in the Â“truthÂ” of the fairy tale gi ves [the child] courage not to withdraw because of the way this stranger appears to him at first. Recalling how the hero of
45 many a fairy tale succeeded in life because he dared to befriend a seemingly unpleasant figure, the child be lieves he may work the same magic. (Bettelheim, 1977, p.50) Fairytales also contain dreamlike features that serve as reflections of the human unconscious, giving shape and story form to abst ract needs and desire s. These stories are wish fulfillment for the psyche, illuminating the emotional engine that drives the mind: When realistic stories are combined with ample and psychologically correct exposure to fairy tales, then the child r eceives information that speaks to both parts of his budding personalityÂ—the rati onal and the emotiona l. (Bettelheim, 1977, p. 54) Awareness of this otherworld of emotion can help us understand the basis of what drives us psychologically. Recounting a local lege nd about a ghost who survived a devastating hurricane to haunt a deserted island can inform us a little a bout the storytellers in this community. The local folktale, labeled as Fo lktale A (Appendix A), about a benign ghost who survives a hurricane that levels his home, suggests that the storyteller wants us to believe in immortality and marvels. While th is ghost story is unrealistic, it satisfies the emotional and psychological need to surviv e. The local news st ory about a woman who survives a hurricane that levels her home satisfies the same survivor myth. While the news story may be set in real time and with re al facts and faces, the fact that the woman survived the storm despite the devastation is the heart of the tale, the amazing and almost unbelievable fact that drives the story. Had th e woman in the news story been crushed by the storm, we would have a more common story. Many people were devastated by the hurricane that spared this woman. The fact th at this particular woman survives becomes
46 the stuff of legend in the news story. In this respect, the news story satisfies the same emotional and psychological need for hope and survival that the local ghost legend does, perhaps even more effectively, si nce it is printed in a credible or at least in delible ink. The news story that retains elements of the fantastic and almost unbelievable while remaining grounded in f acts is the gripping story, be cause it strikes an emotional chord. This emotional chord is grounded in n eed and desire and is manifested in story form. For a psychoanalyst, looking deeper into the function of the chord, Â“desire remains forever unsatisfied because it ha[s] to b ecome languageÂ” (Dor, 2004, p. 118). The desire for meaning amidst the experience of the de vastating hurricane is supplanted by the story on the front page of the local newspaper that tells of the woman who survived against the odds. Reading this news story as a fantastica l survivor myth, the reader finds hope and security, and perhaps suspends his or her disb elief of immortality for a split second, until finishing the story. Asking for some reason as to Â“whyÂ” the devast ation occurred, the readerÂ’s mouth is filled with words that make a nice story. The neighborhood news story, functioning as a true fairy tale with a ha ppy ending, satisfies the emotional need to believe in the possibility of survival desp ite the worst odds. Like the local legend about the ghost who haunts a desolate cove after a de vastating storm, the folk heroine motif in the survivor tale in the news inspires a strong sense of hope in a devastated community: We know that the more deeply unhappy and despairing we are, the more we need to be able to engage in optimistic fantasies. While the fantasy is unreal the good feelings it gives us about ourselves and our future are real and these real good feelings are what we need to sustain us. (Bettelheim, 1977, p.126) Optimistic outcomes and happy endings, although especially rare in the news, do happen.
47 Real life can be just as good as the fantas y or fairy tale occasionally, and when that happens to find its way into the local news, a counter to neighborhood devastation is the result. In fact, amidst widespread devastati on and destruction, a singul ar survival may be the news. The folktale may also function as inst ruction. The local Florida folk story, Peazy and Beanzy (Appendix B), provides a moral lesson. Bean zy, the heroine, is rewarded for her kindness while her unkind sister Peazy is punished. The folktale of Peazy and Beanzy (Reaver, 1988) illustrates what it is to be rewarded for kindne ss through a series of tests. Both sisters in the tale encount er the same tests, but only Beanzy acts selflessly to tend to a stopped brook, a crooked tree, and an ailing aunt. For her kindness, she is rewarded with riches. This kind of Â“child as helperÂ” tale provides a st ep by step instruction of how a girl is to act when tested in life, and re inforces the traditional nurturing role of the female. An article in the local newspaper a bout the plight of Clar a, a child of migrant workers in Plant City, illustrates what it is li ke to be a young girl w ho is tested by life in hopeless circumstances and wants another life. Clara, struggling over the FCAT and long hours in the fields, is contra sted with her classmates, vacationing and working summer jobs in air-conditioning. Clara, the story says Â“dreams of a mall jobÂ” (Amrhein, June 20, 2005, p. 1B). In this Â“child as helperÂ” tale, Clar a, whose sister died at the age of six, acts as translator for Spanish-speaking co-worke rs, volunteers as a nurseÂ’s aide in a local hospital, and helps her family by working in the fields. For her labor, however, Clara is not rewarded with riches as her counterpart Be anzy is in the folktale. ClaraÂ’s story ends on a desperate note, its heroine unsure of how she will go to college or get a better job without the help of reformed immigration legislation. The dismal ending of the news
48 story provides a sharp contra st with the happy ending of th e folktale. The news story finishes with what should be a better ending for Clara, a happy ending just like the ones we find in fairytales. This would give mean ing to ClaraÂ’s struggle in Â“Summer reaping.Â” The news story, in this respect, provides a moral instruction of how life should be for Clara by providing a contrast to the fairytale theme that hard work pays off. Viewing the news story in terms of its folktale themes provides a foundation for a detailed conceptual analysis of the way the folktale func tions act in the news story text. In analyzing the way content functions, this study seeks to bridge the gap between form and function by combining both in an illu stration of the applications of folktale functions to the news story. Ne ws writing, after all, is as co mplex as any other medium: News is more than its practice, its form or content; it is more than information, fact or entertainment. Media abhor a v acuum, and as they spread to fill every empty space, they make it impossible to live in the world and escape their content and influence. (Anderson, Dard enne & Killenberg, 1994, p. 67) In their desire to make meaning, storytellers fill the readersÂ’ lives with words. A close evaluation of the function of those words is at least worthy of a critical reading.
49 Chapter Three: Methodology This critical reading focuses on first defi ning the folktale function as a theme in the local news story, a definition based in pa rt on the psychologi cal and sociological functions of folktale and folklore discussed in the literature review. This chapter outlines a framework for the methodology used in the co ntent analysis of th e selected regional stories in the fourth chapter of the study. Th e analysis then examines, through a critical reading of regional folktales and news stories, whether the folktale functions defined in this methodology might exhibit in the story se lections. These folkta les and news stories have been selected because their subject matter focused on local people, animals, or aspects of the environment that created a cultural link to the stories. As part of the Â“loreÂ” of the local Â“folk,Â” these stories have been chosen because they seemed likely to show folklore characteristics. The an alysis examines a month-long se rial of stories in the local section of the newspaper for the likeliness of a range of folktale functions, exploring whether these functions strongly or weakly exhibit. From this data, the research determines which folktale functions are most a nd least persistent in the news stories, and how these functions exhibit in the news stories. The analysis is conducted in 2 parts. Th e initial qualitative inquiry conducts a conceptual analysis of the folktale functi on found in 2 regional folktales and 2 regional news stories. The first four stories were chos en to evaluate whether folktale functions are present in stories that differ in style and le ngth. Research first analyzes a regional news story and a regional folktale, labeled as News Story A and Folktale A (Appendixes C and
50 A), critically reading each for evidence of one or more of 3 folktale types, folktale functions as defined by ProppÂ’ s materials for tabulating ta les according to their 31 functions, 8 dramatis personae, ThompsonÂ’s inde x of 22 folktale motifs, and LuleÂ’s case studies of news as 7 Master Myths. Folktale A is chosen as an example of an atypical folktale with a first-person narrator. News stor y A is chosen as an example of an atypical news story written in an extended narrative. A total of 71 folktale points are possible in each story evaluation. To quantify the exhibiting functions, each folk tale function found in th e text is assigned a positive value of +1. The sum of these values is the total folktale functions possible in each story. Analysis of the text in each stor y is restricted to finding the concepts of implicit folktale functions, as outlined by the Propp, Thompson, and Lule definitions, in an attempt to maintain reliability throughout th e study. In the criteria of this analysis, the Â“Folktale FunctionsÂ” consist of a combined total of Â“Folktale Types,Â” Â“Master Myths,Â” Â“Folktale Motifs,Â” Â“Dramatis Personae,Â” and Â“P roppÂ’s Functions.Â” This initial analysis seeks whether there is a strong positive presen ce of the folktale functions in the story selections (Table 1, Table 1-A, Table 1-C, Table 1-D, Table 1E and Figure 2). In the second part of the i nquiry, research examines anot her set of stories, labeled News Story B and Folktale B (Appendixes D and B), for evidence of folktale functions as defined again by Propp, Thompson, and Lule, as signing each folktale function found in the text a value of +1. News Story B, a tradit ional inverted pyramid story, and Folktale B, a traditional folktale, are selected to illustrate a contrast to the a-typical story samples in the first evaluation. Total folktale points ar e tabulated from the text of each story to provide a framework for comparison of folktale points in each story. This analysis seeks
51 whether there is a strong positive presence of th e folktale functions in the second set of story selections (Table 1-B and Figure 3). Th e analysis then compares the number of folktale points in the regional folktale, labeled as Folktale B with that of the local news story, labeled as News Story B. A total of 284 points are possible for all 4 of the stories investigated in the initial portion of the analysis. The +1 point compar isons compare content between each pair of news story and folktale. The first (News Stor y A and Folktale A) and second pair (News Story B and Folktale B) of stories are then co mpared to illustrate shared characteristic folktale functions. The stories are further an alyzed to find a percentage of folktale functions present in each, ev aluating percentage on a 0-100 percent scale (Figure1). These percentages are used in further compar isons between the stories as the basis of graphed comparisons and illustrations to evaluate the strength of evidence that the folktale function exists in the analyzed stories, and to what extent it exists in each story. This first part of the analysis provides the method of analysis, +1 coding, calculations and chart illustrations th at will be used consistently throughout the eval uation of story content. The comparisons in this initial st udy should show how the a-typical news story and folktale and typical news story and folktale vary in their display of the folktale functions. The second part of the conceptual analys is applies the esta blished methods of reading a month serial of news stories to ev aluate a persistent presence of a folktale function in the sampled local newspaper. This month selection of stories are selected because they are a mixture of both inverted pyramid and narrative news stories that illustrate some aspect of the local culture, through the local environment, person, or
52 animal that may inform the local culture th rough the application of folklore functions. Stories sampled July 1, 2005 through July 31, 2005 from the neighborhood and local sections of The St. Petersburg Times are critically read for evidence of ProppÂ’s 31 functions and 8 dramatis personae, ThompsonÂ’s index of 22 folktale motifs and 3 folktale types, and LuleÂ’s case studies of news as 7 master myths. For consistency, each function in the 31 evaluated stories is assigned a value of +1. Further, the sum of values in each story is plotted in a chart comparing the 31 Propp folktale functions and all 71 folktale functions combined (Figure 4). A total of 2,201 possible points are evaluated in the 31 stories investigated in the second portion of the analysis. Frequency of appearance of each folktale function within th e 31 day serial of stories is also tabulated using the point system and charted to illustrate strong or w eak persistence of the folktale functions in each story (Figure 5, Figure 6). Myths, folktale types, and dramatis personae are further tabulated according to the +1 point system to find percentages of functions in each of the 31 stories selected (Table 2, Table 2-A, Table 2-B). A total of 2,485 possible folktale functi on positive points are assigned to the 35 total stories examined in both portions of the analysis combined. Each story carries a total of 71 total possible folktale function points of +1. These point values for the stories are used to provide consistency when evaluating data for charted comparisons and percentages. In studying the regional news story for evidence of the folk tale function, this analysis of content attempts to form a bridge to further investiga tion, in the form of a relational analysis, of the way folktale f unctions or themes in the neighborhood news might affect local culture by functioning as part of a cultural psychodynamic. How
53 folktale themes in the local newspaper help define local culture, and how local culture might use the folktale functions in the news to reinforce traditional cultural definitions and traditional identities, is the springboard subject for further study. Subject Selection and Description A total of 35 stories are analyzed for ev idence of folktale functions. All stories chosen for the analysis of the folktale function in the text ar e regional local stories about local people, animals, or their envi ronment from the regional newspaper, The St. Petersburg Times. These local stories reflect an identity and a sense of place that communicate the local culture. A study of stories within the regional focus group provides the basis for further investigation of the way the folktale function in the newspaper might have a socio-psychol ogical effect on the local culture. Of the 4 stories sampled for the initial analysis, 2 news stories are selected from the local newspaper. News Story A (Appendi x C) is considerably longer, more wellresearched, and exhibits a lengt hy narrative style uncharacteris tic of most news stories. News Story B (Appendix D) is short, difficult to follow, with no definitive theme, and told in the traditional inverted pyramid news writing style. Both stories are based on facts about local people and their str uggles with some syst em of authority, yet stylistically they provide contrasting samples. News Story A tells the tale of a local man battling the justice system for the right to acquire and introduce evidence that could free his imprisoned son. News Story B is about a pet owner facing new county restrictions that could threaten the safety and freedom of he r exotic pets. Thematically, the stories are similar, sharing the Â“SocietyÂ” folktale motif. Stylistically, the lengthy narrative
54 unraveling of News Story A contrasts sharply w ith the short, inverted pyramid style factstacking of News Story B. News Story A e xhibits many of the classic characteristic folktale functions, including folktale type, myth, motif, Proppian functions and dramatis personae. News Story B exhibits fewer of th e folktale functions, providing a contrasting textual analysis. These stylistical ly contrasting stories have b een selected to evaluate how the persistence of folktale f unctions in the news story might be affected by contrasting story length and style. The stories labeled Folktale A (Appendi x A) and Folktale B (Appendix B) are both regional folktales, chosen to provide a basis for the regional study. Folktale A is a story based on a local ghost story legend, told by an apparent narrator in a narrative style. Folktale B is a classic regional moral fable, told by a first-person narrator in a narrative style. Folktale A tells the story of the na rrator encounteri ng a ghost in a local waterway and struggling to accept his existe nce. Folktale B concerns th e story of two sisters, one good, the other bad, who are punished and rewa rded for their respective kindness and abusiveness when sent on identical quests. Neither story is based on fact. Stylistically, Folktale B is written in a classic folktale form, with an omniscient narrator and an instructive, moralizing conclusi on. Folktale A is written as a first-person narrative, with an uncertain ending. These stories are selected to evaluate how the persistence of folktale functions in the news story might be a ffected by folktale type and style. In the second portion of the analysis, the 31 day month sample of local news stories is selected from the same regional ne wspaper to provide a sample from the same reader community. One story is selected from each day of the month of July to provide a serial of local news stories. Each story chosen fulfills basic subject matter criteria. Stories
55 must be about a local person or animal or en vironment and must describe a local event or story of interest that informs about the loca l culture. The stories may vary in length, author, and style. They are st ories about local crimes, local environmental concerns, local weather-related events, local cultures, and lo cal personal interest, pulled from the Â“City & StateÂ” and Â“Neighborhood TimesÂ” sections of The St. Petersburg Times The 31 stories share consistent general subj ect matter and lengths and are evaluated to show contrast between similar stories of the frequency and weak or strong presence of the folktale function concept. Data Collection Procedures One story is collected from the local section of The St. Petersburg Times for each day July 1-July 31. The text in each story is critically read for evidence of myth, motif, and dramatis personae and folktale type a nd function as defined by folktale types, ProppÂ’s functions, dramatis personae, motif, an d myth. Each function discovered in each story is coded with a value of +1. Each stor y can sum to a total of 71 coded points. Care is taken to perform the same analyses in each sampled story selected, and to maintain regional and general thematic uniformity in story selections from the same local newspaper.
56 Chapter Four: Data Analysis In examining the text of the selection of regional news stories for characteristics of the folktale, this chapter attempts to prove the existence of the folktale function in the news story text. It then asks what folktale themes present in the sampled news stories, with what frequency, and how these folktale th emes help to provide meaning in the story text. This content analysis illustrates applic ation of the methodologies and the folktale functions defined in Chapter Three of the st udy. These definitions and applications of the folktale functions in the news story selecti ons lay the groundwork for a relational analysis that might explore the relationships between the news story-consumer and the news story and the news story-produ cer and the news story. In this critical reading, qu alitative analysis focuses on determining the existence and frequency of the folktale functions in the se lection of local folktales and news stories. The first part of the analysis involves a criti cal reading of 2 pairs of stories for folktale functions. The first pair of stories, Folkta le A and News Story A, (Appendixes A and C) is a non-traditional regional folktale and a nontraditional regional news story that greatly satisfies the folktale functions and the second pair of stories, Folk tale B and News Story B, (Appendixes B and D) is a traditional regi onal folktale and a trad itional regional news story that do not greatly satisfy the outlined folktale functions. All stories employ the use of local character, occurrence or environment. These stories are observed for evidence of the folktale functions ou tlined in the methodology. The second part of the analysis is a crit ical reading of 31 local news stories for
57 folktale functions. One story was chosen fo r every day July 1 through July 31 from the local, neighborhood section of the regional news paper. These stories exhibit a variety of motifs in both non-traditional and traditional ne ws writing styles. Present in each of the news stories selected in the month of July is the use of local charac ter, local occurrence, and local environment. Findings News Story A and News Story B/Fo lktale A and Folktale B. Non-traditional and traditi onal story types appear to have a correlation to the folktale function in the initial news story analysis (Figure 1). The longer, non-traditional narrative news story exhibits nearly twice as many folktale functions as the shorter, more traditional inverted-pyramid news story. Data shows: In Figure 1, 68 possible folk tale functions are observed from the set of 71 available. Folktale type is not evaluate d in this figure. From the data, News Story A, a long narrative, exhibits 81% of the folkta le functions compared to News Story B, a short inverted pyramid style story, exhibiting 44% percent of the folk tale functions. This initial data suggests that there may be a relationship between th e longer narrative style and the strong presence of folktale functions in the story. The longer narrative style in the news story might be better suite d to developing myths, drama tis personae, folktale motifs and folktale functions common to folklore. In the pairs of compared st ories, the non-tradit ional, narrative-style news story exhibits nearly double the tota l folktale functions as the traditional, inverted pyramidstyle news story. There is only a slight cont rast between the total number of folktale
58 functions in the 2 folktales evaluated. The traditional folktale and non-traditional, narrative style news story exhibit the highe st percentage of Master Myths. The nontraditional folktale and news story exhibit the highest percentage of Motifs. The nontraditional news story exhibits all 8 available Dramatis Personae. The non-traditional folktale and news story exhibit the greatest number of ProppÂ’s Functions. Data shows: From the 7 Master Myths available, Folktale B (71%) and News Story A (71%) exhibited the hi ghest percentage of Master Myths. The Folktale A (50%) and News Story A (50%) evenly exhibited th e highest percentage of the 22 available Folktale Motifs. News Story A (100%) exhibi ted the highest percen tage of 8 available Dramatis Personae. Folktale A (100%) and News Story A (100%) exhibited the highest percentage of the 31 available ProppÂ’s Func tions. News Story B (44%) exhibited the lowest percentage of the 68 available folktale functions across all categories. News Story A and News Story B looked dramatically diffe rent in the charted samples. News Story A (81%) exhibited a far greater percentage of fo lktale functions than News Story B (44%). Folktale A (68%) and Folktale B (62%) were less contrasting samples, with both stories exhibiting a similar percentage of total folktale functions. News Story A and News Story B look dr amatically different charted in the illustration. The lengthier, non-traditional narrat ive-style News Story A exhibits 55 out of 68 possible folktale functions. The shorter, traditional, inverted pyramid-style News Story B exhibits 30 out of 68 possible f unctions, suggesting that there may be a correlation between traditional stor y style and folktale function.
59 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Master Myths Folktale Motifs Dramatis Personae Propp's Functions Folktale A Folktale B News Story A News Story B Figure 1. Chart of Total Folktale Functions in Folktale A and Folktale B and News Story A and News Story B. In the item depicted, News Story A and News Story B and Folktale A and Folktale B are evaluated for evidence of the 7 Master Myths, 22 Folktale Motif s, 8 Dramatis Personae and 31 ProppÂ’s Functions. The stories are assigned 1 point for each function found in a reading of the text. 68 points are available in each story. Percentages are based on the total number of folktale fu nctions found divided by the total number of folktale functions available in each story. The bar graph illustrates a comparison of percentages of folktale functions present in each story. Further analysis of the indi vidual folktale functions in the compared stories is less conclusive. Folktale B (71%) and News Story A (71%) exhibit the highest percentage of Master Myths. Folktale A (50%) and News St ory A (50%) exhibit th e highest percentage of Folktale Motifs. News Story A (100%) e xhibits the highest per centage of Dramatis Personae. News Story A (100%) also exhi bits the highest percentage of ProppÂ’s Functions. Folktale A (100%) exhibits the highest percentage of ProppÂ’s Functions. From this analysis, it can be determined that the 2 folktales, while exhibiting a similar
60 percentage of folktale functions, are intrinsi cally different. This initial comparison finds that the strong presence of Master Myths in Folktale B (71%) does not necessarily indicate a stronger presence of the folktale functions overall. Folktale B satisfies only 62% of the 68 total folktale functions. News Story A satisfies 81% of the 68 total folktale functions, the highest percentage in all stor ies compared. News Story A also shows high numbers of Master Myths (71%), Folktale Motifs (50%), Dramatis Personae (100%), and ProppÂ’s Functions (100%). From the initial co mparisons, a higher percentage of Master Myths, or any other folktale function alone, doe s not appear to be the indicator of a story showing the highest percentage of folktale functions. Without Myth and Personae, a story appear s to have less key folklore qualities. Data Shows: In a comparison of folktale functions in News Story A and Folktale A (Table 1): Both News Story A and Folk tale A satisfy 100% of ProppÂ’s 31 folktale functions. Both News Story A and Folktale A exhibit 50% of the 22 Folktale Motifs. However, when the functions of Master Myth s and Dramatis Personae are included in the evaluation, News Story A satisfies 81% of the total folktale functions while Folktale A satisfies 68%. This finding suggests that Master Myths and Dramatis Personae may be imperative folktale functions. Story Master Myths Folktale Motifs Dramatis Personae ProppÂ’s Functions News Story A 71% 50% 100% 100% Folktale A 57% 50% 63% 100% Table 1. Comparison of Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. The table shows a percent comparison of folk tale functions in News Story A and Folktale A. News Story A satisfies 81% and Folktale A satisfies 68% of all folktale functions combined.
61 Figure 2 illustrates the tabulated data from Ta ble 1, showing that News Story A exhibits a greater number of folktale functi ons than Folktale A. This da ta suggests that Master Myth and Dramatis Personae are determining factors in the comparison of News Story A to Folktale A. News Story A exhibited 71% of the 7 Master Myths, while Folktale A exhibited 57% of the 7 Master Myths. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Master Myths Folktale Motifs Dramatis Personae Propp's Functions News Story A Folktale A Figure 2. Chart of Total Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. In the item depicted, News Story A and Folktale A are evalua ted for evidence of the 7 Master Myths, 22 Folktale Motifs, 8 Dramatis Personae and 31 ProppÂ’s Functions. The stories are assigned 1 point for each function found in a reading of the text. Percentages are based on the total number of folktale functions found divided by the total number of folktale functions (68) available in each story. News Story A and Folktale A. News Story A exhibits the Master Myths of Victim, Scapegoat, Hero, Trickster, and Other World while Folktale A exhibits ev idence of Hero, Trickster, Other World and
62 Flood. This data suggests a similar amount of Master Myths in each story, though their identity differs. Data shows: In Table 1-A Master Myths are closely evaluated as folktale functions in News Story A and Folktale A. News Story A exhibits 71% of the Master Myths, while Folktale A exhibits 57% of the Master Myths. In addition to exhibiting the greater amount of Master Myths, News Stor y A also exhibits th e greatest amount of folktale functions (81%), as evidenced in the preceding data (Figure 2). Master Myths Victim ScapeGoat Hero Trickster Other World Good Mother Flood News Story A Daniel Daniel Father Drug Dealer Drug Underworld Folktale A Narrator Walter WalterÂ’s Cove Hurricane Donna Table 1-A. Master Myths as Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. The table shows the different Master Myths found in News Story A and Folktale A. In News Story A, the character of Daniel is both Victim of and Scapegoat for a crime, the character of Father is the Hero who rescues his son from prison, the Drug Dealer is a Trickster figure who offers the key to Daniel Â’s freedom and then takes it away, and the Drug Underworld is the Other World that cons umes DanielÂ’s Father on his quest to free his son from prison. In Folktale A, the character of Narrator is the Hero who navigates the reader through WalterÂ’s Cove, the ghostly Other World, where Walter the ghost is encountered in the form of the Trickster, partly in the real worl d of the Narrator and partly in the ghostly Other World. Hurricane Donna is the original Flood that took WalterÂ’s life.
63 Comparison of Folktale Functions in News Story B and Folktale B. Story set A, composed of the narrative news story and non-traditional folktale, exhibits more of the folktale functions ove rall than story set B, composed of the traditional inverted-pyramid news story and traditional folktale. These initial findings suggest that there may be a correlation be tween story style and the presence of the folktale functions. Data shows: In Table 1-B and corresponding Figure 3 Folktale B exhibits 81% of ProppÂ’s 22 Functions and News Story B e xhibits only 42% of ProppÂ’s 22 Functions. Folktale B exhibits 71% of the 7 Master Myths and 63% of the 22 Dramatis Personae while News Story B exhibits 57% of the 7 Master Myths and 50% of the 22 Dramatis Personae. Compared to story set A (75%), st ory set B (53%) exhibits less of the overall folktale functions. Story Master Myths Folktale MotifsDramatis Personae ProppÂ’s Functions News Story B 57% 27% 50% 42% Folktale B 71% 32% 63% 81% Table 1-B Comparison of Folktale Functions in News Story B and Folktale B. The table shows the percenta ge of folktale functions in story set B, comparing News Story B to Folktale B. News Story B satisfies 44% of the 68 folktale functions combined, while Folktale B satisfi es 62% of the 68 folktale functions combined.
64 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Master Myths Folktale Motifs Dramatis Personae Propp's Functions News Story B Folktale B Figure 3. Chart of Total Folktale F unctions in News Story B and Folktale B. In the item depicted, News Story B and Folktale B are evaluate d for evidence of the 7 Master Myths, 22 Folktale Motifs, 8 Dramatis Personae and 31 ProppÂ’s Functions. The stories are assigned 1 point for each function found in a reading of the text. Percentages are based on the total number of folktale fu nctions found divided by the total number of folktale functions available in each story. Folktale Motifs as Folktale Function s in News Story A and Folktale A. In Table 1-C both News Story A and Folktale A exhibit 50% of the available 22 folktale motifs. This data suggests that th e folktale function does not exhibit more frequently in the folktale than in the news story. Story type, in this comparison, does not appear to determine whether the folktale motif exhibits frequently. Data shows: News Story A exhibits 100% of the 8 Dramatis Personae while Folktale A exhibits only 63% of the 8 Dramatis Personae. In Folktale A, the character of Walter played multiple personae in the roles of Â“Villain,Â” Â“Helper,Â” and Â“False Hero,Â” yet
65 fewer of the Dramatis Personae were presen t. The personae of Walter changed with the NarratorÂ’s perception of him as the plot of Folktale A evolved. This multiplicity of Dramatis Personae does not exist in News St ory A and further suggests strong evidence of the Trickster myth in Folktale A. In both News Story A and Folktale A, 50% of the 22 Folktale Motifs presented, despite the prevalen ce of Dramatis Personae in News Story A. In the sample of News Story A, each character represents 1 Dramatis Persona throughout the story. In Folktale A, the charac ter of Walter plays mu ltiple personae in the roles of Â“Villain,Â” Â“Helper,Â” and Â“False Her o,Â” yet less of the Dramatis Personae overall are present. The personae of Wa lter changed with the Narrato rÂ’s perception of him as the plot of Folktale A evolved. This multivalence of Dramatis Personae does not exist in News Story A and further strengthens evidence of the Trickster myth in Folktale A. Data shows: In Table 1-D News Story A exhibits 100% of the 8 Dramatis Personae while Folktale A comparatively exhi bits 63% of the 8 Dramatis Personae. In both News Story A and Folktale A, 50% of the 22 Folktale Motifs presented. ProppÂ’s Functions as Folktale Function s in News Story A and Folktale A. Finding ProppÂ’s folktale func tions in the news stories sampled could suggest that these functions are clearly not uni que to the folktale story type. Data shows: In Table 1-E both News Story A and Folktale A exhibit 100% of 31 ProppÂ’s Functions, suggesting th at a news story and a folk tale can exhibit the same amount of ProppÂ’s folktale functions.
66 Folktale Motifs News Story A Folktale A Mythological Victim, Hero, Scapegoat, Trickster, Other World The Other World Animals Tabu Descent into drug world Narrator enters Other World Magic Walter is immortal The Dead Walter is a ghost Marvels FatherÂ’s descent into drug underworld and to recover gun Walter survives the flood and hurricane Ogres Drug dealer and acquaintances Tests Quest to save Daniel Braving the Other World The Wise and the Foolish Harsh judge/Lenient judge Walter teaches Narrator about the existence of the Other World Deceptions Drug dealer deceives Father WalterÂ’s ghost convinces Narrator he is real Reversal of Fortune Daniel is freed by Father Ordaining the Future Chance and Fate NarratorÂ’s childhood friend Walter reappears later in NarratorÂ’s life by chance encounter Society Gravity of crime lessened, Daniel freed Modern Life on shore contrasts with traditional life in Other World Rewards and Punishments Daniel is imprisoned and Father wins his freedom Captives and Fugitives Unnatural Cruelty Sex Religion Traits and Character Daniel is easily influenced and Father is heroic NarratorÂ’s skepticism contrasts with WalterÂ’s other worldliness Humor Misc. Groups and Motifs 11 (50%) 11 (50%) Table 1-C. Folktale Motifs as Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A.
67 The table shows the 22 key folktale motifs as th ey appear in News Story A and Folktale A. As illustrated by Table 1-C: Victim, Hero, Scapegoat, Trickster, and Other World all appear as Mythological motifs in News Story A, a story that follows the heroic efforts of a father to save his son from prison by entering the drug underworld and encountering deceptive criminals. The Other World mythol ogical motif is prevalent in the ghost story and the local folktale, Folktale A. The descent into the drug underworld in News Story A and passage into the ghostly otherworld in Folktale A illustrate th e motif of the Tabu in the stories. The motifs of Magic and The Dead are both presented in th e ghostly character of Walter, the ghost in Folktale A, who is both magically immortal in his Other World and deceased in the NarratorÂ’s real world. Both News Story A and Folktale A satisfy elements of the Marvels motif. The Father character in News Story A accomplishe s seemingly impossible tasks, retrieving a stolen gun that lessens his sonÂ’s prison senten ce. WalterÂ’s character in Folktale A amazes the Narrator by Â“survivingÂ” the hurricane that took his life, according to legend. The drug dealers, as pratfalls to th e hero in News Story A, act as Ogres Test motifs appear in both stor ies. In News Story A, the Father must encounter a number of obstacles thrown at him by drug dealers and the ju stice system. In Folktale A, the Narrator must suspend his disb elief to enter WalterÂ’s Other World. The motif of the Wise and the Foolish also appears in both st ories. In News Story A, the harsh judge who passes the sentence on Da niel is contrasted with the lenient judge who allows Daniel to go free after recognizi ng his FatherÂ’s trials to free his son. In
68 Folktale A, the ghost character of Walter teaches the Narrator how he has survived outside society on an isolated island. Deceptions are a motif in both stories. The Fath er character is repeatedly deceived by drug dealers throughout the story. The char acter of Walter deceives the Narrator by convincing him that hi s ghost world is real. The Reversal of Fortune motif is strongly apparent at the end of News Story A, when the Father character fr ees his son Daniel from prison. The Chance and Fate motif brings the Narrator toge ther with his childhood friend Walter in the story by chance encounter. Society plays a role in both stories. In Ne ws Story A, a harsh judge, representing conservative society, must be convinced th at Daniel has done his time and that the FatherÂ’s good deeds for his son and recovery of a stolen gun satisfies the courtÂ’s need for law, order, and punishment. In Folktale A, th e Narrator has a difficult time believing that Walter the ghost can exist on his own on an uni nhabited island without the trappings of society. Rewards and Punishments are apparent in News Stor y A when Daniel is finally freed from his prison punishment by his father Â’s deeds and the fath er and son are united. The Traits and Character motif plays largely in both st ories. The heroic character of Father contrasts sharply with his easily passive and easily influenced son in News Story A. The skeptical Narrator contrasts with WalterÂ’s ghostly and ot herworldly trickster character in Folktale A. Folktale Dramatis Person ae as Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A.
69 Dramatis Personae News Story A Folktale A Villain Drug Dealer Walter Donor Grandfather Salty the Dog Helper Judge and Attorney Walter Princess DanielÂ’s Sister Her Father DanielÂ’s Father Dispatcher Acquaintance of Drug Dealer Hero Father Narrator False Hero DanielÂ’s Friend Walter 8 total 8 (100%) 5 (63%) Table 1-D. Folktale Dramatis Personae as Folk tale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. Table 1-E: ProppÂ’s Functions as Folkta le Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. This data could suggest that the Â“G ood MotherÂ” (a positive, nurturing or supportive element) and the Â“Other WorldÂ” (a foreign, mystic or religious element) are mythic themes less relevant to the local news stories sampled. The Â“HeroÂ” and Â“VictimÂ” myths, common themes in tragedy, might simp ly appear most frequently in the local news stories sampled because the news stories in the sample predominantly focus on tragedy. The common appearance of these myths in the news stories suggests that news stories that exhibit the Â“HeroÂ” or Â“VictimÂ” myth are not unique. The Â“Other WorldÂ” myth may be exhibiting less frequently in the local news stories sampled because it is a theme more common to international news, reporte d elsewhere in the newspaper. The Â“Good MotherÂ” myth may be appearing less frequen tly in the local news because being a Â“Good
70 MotherÂ” may be a more unique, and less prevalent, mythic theme in the local news, which focuses more on the bad or tragic element. (Initial Situation) Abstentation News Story A: Daniel is sent away to prison for trading a stolen gun to a dealer for drugs Interdiction Daniel canÂ’t be freed unless stolen gun recovered Violation Father is determined to recover stolen gun Reconnaissance Drug dealer learns that Father is looking for him Delivery Drug dealer learns that stolen gun is key to DanielÂ’s freedom Trickery Drug dealer offers Father stolen gun for $1000 Complicity Father pays $1000 for the recovery of the wrong gun Villainy (Lack) Drug dealer makes Father wait one month for delivery of the right gun Mediation Drug dealerÂ’s acquaintance finds out Father is desperate for gun and will pay more Counteraction DanielÂ’s sister agrees to make drop of more money in exchange for the gun Departure Father drives to GrandfatherÂ’s home for extra cash 1st Function of Donor HeroÂ’s Reaction Father, desperate, asks for cash Cash is collected from family funds Father is relieved and excited Receipt of Magic Agent Father receives extra cash Spatial Transference Father drives to Crystal River to the drop site Struggle Father meets to men in darkness who lead him to the end of a strange street Branding Father confronts obstacles and the underworld, recovers stolen gun, and is branded a hero Victory Father has stolen gun Liquidation Obstacle to DanielÂ’s freedom has been recovered Return Father returns home to show gun to Mother Table 1-E: ProppÂ’s Functions as Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A (Continued)
71 Pursuit Police question Father as to recovery of the stolen gun Rescue FatherÂ’s story, though sketchy, is accepted Unrecognized Arrival Court will not allow stolen gun to be recognized as evidence that could lessen DanielÂ’s prison sentence Unfounded Claims Owner of stolen gun claims DanielÂ’s actions destroyed her ability to trust Difficult Task Judge will not mention recovery of the gun in a plea to reduce sentence Solution Case appealed and new judge finds DanielÂ’s sentence was overly harsh Recognition FatherÂ’s testimony about his quest to recover the stolen gun is heard in court Exposure Drug dealerÂ’s deceptions and extortions are revealed in court Transfiguration Father dresses up for his son DanielÂ’s release from prison Punishment Drug dealer has lost his power to extort money from the family Wedding DanielÂ’s Father is reunited with his son and they return home together Table 1-E (Continued): ProppÂ’s Functions as Folktale Functi ons in News Story A and Folktale A (Initial Situation) Abstentation Folktale A: WalterÂ’s Son remembers Walter, his absent Father Interdiction WalterÂ’s son wonÂ’t talk much about Walter to Narrator Violation Narrator talks about his memories of Walter Reconnaissance WalterÂ’s memory enfolds NarratorÂ’s reality Delivery Walter happens on Narrator on the shore Trickery Walter invites Narrator aboard his ghost boat Complicity Narrator agrees to leave shore and go with Walter in his boat Villainy (Lack) Walter tells Narrator the tale of how he survived a hurricane away from civilization Table 1-E: ProppÂ’s Functions as Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A (Continued)
72 Mediation Narrator wonders how Walter can still be alive and questions his existence in a deserted cove Counteraction Departure Narrator and Walter leave for WalterÂ’s Other World home in a Narrator begins to doubt his skepticism when he sees and experiences WalterÂ’s hideaway 1st Function of Donor HeroÂ’s Reaction Narrator reunited with WalterÂ’s old dog Salty Narrator starts to believe Walter is still alive Receipt of Magic Agent Walter gives Narrator a smoked mullet Spatial Transference Narrator starts to relax and feel at home in WalterÂ’s mysterious Other World Struggle Narrator wants to return home and feels trapped in WalterÂ’s strange world Branding Narrator finds himself a believer in strange mysteries Victory Narrator believes he is talking to the real Walter Liquidation Narrator no longer wonders about the fate of Walter Return Walter rows Narrator back to shore Pursuit Walter enters NarratorÂ’s world when he leaves him on shore Rescue Walter disappears Unrecognized Arrival Narrator returns alone to his truck Unfounded Claims The experience with Walter seems like a dream or illusion Difficult Task Narrator must come to terms with meeting long missing Walter in a strange Other World Solution Narrator concludes experience was a mystery Recognition Narrator accepts there are things he canÂ’t explain Exposure Proof of Walter has disappeared and he seems less real Transfiguration Narrator has ability to suspend disbelief to experience unknowns Punishment Walter does not appear again and the Narrator is no longer troubled by him Wedding Narrator returns home with knowledge of an Other World Table 1-E (Continued): ProppÂ’s Functions as Folk tale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A
73 Each Proppian Function indicates a point in the story that propels the plot to the next function in the sequence. Both the news story and folktale exhibit equal amounts of functions. Data shows: Table 1-E illustrates the a pplication of ProppÂ’s 31 Folktale Functions in News Story A and Folktale A. Pro ppÂ’s Functions were found in sequence. News Stories Master Myths Victim Scapegoat Hero Trickster Other World Good Mother Flood 1-Jul Yes Yes 2-Jul Yes Yes 3-Jul Yes Yes 4-Jul Yes Yes Yes 5-Jul Yes Yes 6-Jul Yes Yes Yes 7-Jul Yes 8-Jul Yes Yes Yes 9-Jul Yes 10-Jul Yes 11-Jul Yes Yes Yes 12-Jul Yes Yes 13-Jul Yes Yes Yes 14-Jul Yes Yes 15-Jul Yes Yes 16-Jul Yes Yes Yes 17-Jul Yes Yes 18-Jul Yes Yes Yes 19-Jul Yes Table 2: Master Myths as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. (Continued)
74 20-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes 21-Jul Yes Yes 22-Jul Yes 23-Jul 24-Jul Yes Yes 25-Jul Yes 26-Jul Yes Yes Yes 27-Jul Yes Yes 28-Jul Yes Yes 29-Jul Yes Yes 30-Jul Yes Yes 31-Jul Yes Yes News Stories with Master Myth Function 23 (74%) 4 (13%) 21 (68%) 3 (10%) 0 (0%) 5 (2%) 8 (3%) Table 2 (Continued): Master Myths as Folktale F unctions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. Master Myths as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. The Â“VictimÂ” and the Â“HeroÂ” myths most frequently exhibit in the 31 news stories, suggesting that they may be the mo st common master myths found in the news stories sampled in the local section of th e newspaper. The Â“HeroÂ” and the Â“VictimÂ” Master Myths appear to be most frequently represented in the local news stories, while the Â“Other WorldÂ” and Â“Good Moth erÂ” appear least frequently. Data Shows: In Table 2 74% of the news stories e xhibited the Master Myth of Â“Victim.Â” 13% of the news stor ies exhibit the Master Myth of Â“Scapegoat.Â” 68% of the news stories sampled exhibit the Master Myth of Â“Hero.Â” 10% of news stories sampled
75 exhibit the Master Myth of Â“Trickster.Â” 0% percent of the news st ories sampled exhibit the Master Myth of Â“Other World.Â” 2% of ne ws stories sampled exhibit the Master Myth of Â“Good Mother.Â” 3% of news stories sample d exhibit the Master Myth of the Â“Flood.Â” Folktale Types as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. The largest percentage of the 31 news st ories sampled exhibit characteristics of the Â“Ordinary Folktale Type.Â” Data shows: In Table 2-A 87% of the 31 day sample of news stories exhibit the Â“Ordinary Folktale Type.Â” In the sample, 6% of the news stories exhibit the Â“Animal Tale Type.Â” The Â“Jokes and Anecdotes TypeÂ” exhibited in 3% of the stories. Of the 31 stories, 27 exhibit characteristics of the Â“Ordinary Folktale,Â” which encompasses Â“Magic,Â” Â“Romantic,Â” Â“Novelle,Â” Â“Stupid,Â” and Â“OgreÂ” tales. This data suggests that there is a strong relationship between the common folkta le type and the common news story type, with the news stories exhibiting many of the ch aracteristics of the or dinary folktale type. Of the 31 news stories, 87% exhibit the Â“Ord inary Folktale Type,Â” 6% of news stories exhibit the Â“Animal Tale Type,Â” and 3% of news stories exhibit the Â“Jokes & Anecdotes Type.Â” Dramatis Personae as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. The frequent appearance of Â“Her o,Â” Â“Helper,Â” Â“VillainÂ” and Â“DonorÂ” as Dramatis Personae coincide with the str ong persistence of the Â“HeroÂ” and Â“VictimÂ” Master Myths in the news stories. The le ss frequent appearance of the Â“PrincessÂ” may coincide with the less prevalent Â“Good Moth erÂ” Master Myth in the analyzed news
76 stories, pointing to an under-repre sentation of female personae. Data shows: In Table 2-B of the 31 news stories, the Dramatis Persona of Â“HeroÂ” most frequently exhibits, appearing in 84% of the stories. Â“HelperÂ” exhibits in 71% percent of news stories. Â“VillainÂ” and Â“DonorÂ” each exhibit in 55% percent of the news stories sampled. Â“PrincessÂ” exhibits in 39% of the stories. Â“False HeroÂ” appears in 16% of stories. Â“DispatcherÂ” appears in 10% of stories and Â“Her FatherÂ” exhibits least frequently, in 6% of the news stories. News StoriesFolktale Types Ordinary Folktale (Magic/Romantic/Novelle/ Stupid Ogre) Animal Tale Jokes & Anecdotes 1-Jul Yes 2-Jul Yes 3-Jul Yes 4-Jul Yes 5-Jul Yes 6-Jul Yes 7-Jul Yes 8-Jul Yes 9-Jul Yes 10-Jul Yes 11-Jul Yes 12-Jul Yes 13-Jul Yes 14-Jul Yes 15-Jul Yes 16-Jul Yes Table 2-A : Folktale Types as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. (Continued)
77 17-Jul Yes 18-Jul Yes 19-Jul Yes 20-Jul Yes 21-Jul Yes 22-Jul Yes 23-Jul 24-Jul Yes 25-Jul Yes 26-Jul Yes 27-Jul Yes 28-Jul Yes 29-Jul Yes 30-Jul Yes 31-Jul Yes News Stories Exhibiting Folktale Types 27 (87%) 2 (6%) 1 (3%) Table 2-A (Continued): Folktale Types as Folktale F unctions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. The findings suggest a lack of humor as a theme in the local news stories surveyed and little thematic concentration on animals in the local environment. The Ordinary Folktale, which finds magic or marv els in the everyday experience, is a strong theme throughout the 31 local news stories sampled. Data shows: In Table 2-A, Folktale T ypes are identified in the 31 day sample. Of the 31 stories sampled, 87% of the local news stories exhibit characteristics of the Ordinary Folktale, involving magic, ma rvels, romances, and ogres in a local
78 common-place setting. Of the 31 stories sample d, 6% exhibit characteristics of the Animal Tales, featuring the plights of anim als as story themes, and 3% (or one story) exhibit characteristics of Jokes & Anecdotes. Dramatis Personae Villain Donor Helper Princess Her Father Dispatcher Hero False Hero 1-Jul Yes Yes Yes 2-Jul Yes Yes Yes 3-Jul Yes Yes Yes 4-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes 5-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 6-Jul Yes Yes Yes 7-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 8-Jul Yes Yes Yes 9-Jul Yes Yes Yes 10-Jul Yes Yes Yes 11-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 12-Jul Yes Yes Yes 13-Jul Yes Yes Yes 14-Jul Yes Yes 15-Jul Yes Yes 16-Jul Yes 17-Jul Yes Yes Yes 18-Jul Yes Yes Yes 19-Jul Yes Yes 20-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes 21-Jul Yes Yes 22-Jul Yes Yes Table 2-B: Dramatis Personae as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. (Continued)
79 23-Jul Yes Yes 24-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes 25-Jul Yes Yes Yes 26-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 27-Jul Yes Yes 28-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 29-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes 30-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 31-Jul Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 17 (55%) 17 (55%) 22 (71%) 13 (39%) 2 (6%) 3 (10%) 26 (84%) 5 (16%) Table 2-B (Continued): Dramatis Personae as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. This data might suggest that character s of Â“Hero,Â” Â“Villain,Â” and Â“DonorÂ” may appear most frequently in the local sphere of culture, or that th ese characters are easily recognizable and quickly rendered in the news writing format. Data shows: Table 2-B shows the appearan ce of 8 identified Dramatis Personae across the 31-day sample. The persona of Â“HeroÂ” appeared most frequently in the sample (84%) while the personae of Â“VillainÂ” and Â“D onorÂ” showed equally in 55% of the stories sampled. Chart of Total Folktale Functions and ProppÂ’s Functions Compared in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. In Figure 4, the total folktale functions clos ely parallel ProppÂ’s functions. The folktale functions exhibit most frequently in the story labeled Ne ws Story 20, and least
80 frequently in the story labeled News Stor y 21, as the chart in Figure 4 illustrates. In the sample, folktale functions are overal l most apparent in a July 20 (Thalji, 2005) story from the Times : Â“Awaiting retrial, she's not repent ant.Â” The story is about a Â“good motherÂ” who is awaiting retria l after being convicted of murdering a man who sexually abused and taunted her mentally handicapped daughter. The story is short, written in a concise, non-narrative style, and it concer ns the myth of the good mother, least common in the story samples. Despite this, it clearly exhibits the most folktale functions of all stories surveyed. This data suggests that na rrative style, longer story length, and the presence of a commonly exhibiting myth, do not make a news story function more like a folktale functions. In the news st ory that exhibits the most folktale characteristics, style is the traditional inverted-pyr amid, story length is shorter, and a less common myth presents. Also from the 31-day news story sample, the folktale functions were least apparent in July 21 story (Van Sant, Fries, & Sharockman, 2005) Â“Twisting winds tear at mobile homes,Â” predominantly a Â“FloodÂ” and Â“VictimÂ” story, about people who lost their homes to tornadoes in Largo and Clearwat er. The story is l onger, and the common Â“VictimÂ” myth is present, yet this story functi ons the least like a folktale of all the news stories in the 31-day sample. Story style, length, and the presence of a common myth do not appear to be factors in fi nding the news story or stories th at greatly satisfy the folktale functions in the 31 stories. Folktale Motifs as Folktale Function s in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. In Figure 5, the 31 news stories are examined for the 22 folktale motifs. The number of Folktale Motifs exhibiting in each story is plotted in the chart. As illustrated
81 by the chart, the July 20, 2005 news story exhib its the greatest number of Folktale Motifs, with 10 total. The July 21, 2005 news story exhibits the fewest number of Folktale Motifs, with 2 total. These 2 stories score the most and least respective total folktale functions, as illustrated by Figure 4. A strong parallel is drawn between the presence of the Folktale Motif and the appearance of the folktale functions. 0 10 20 30 40 507/1 /2 0 05 7/ 8 /2005 7 /1 5/ 20 0 5 7/22 / 200 5 7 /2 9/ 2 00 5 Propp's Functions Folktale Functions Combined Figure 4 : Chart of Total Folktale Functions and Propp Â’s Functions Compared in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. The figure illustrates data collected fr om the 31-day local news story sample. The total number of Proppian folktale f unctions and folktale functions combined (including the Proppian functions ) is quantified for each story in the 31-day sample. The figure shows the comparison between the data for ProppÂ’s Functions and the Folktale Functions combined.
82 ProppÂ’s Functions as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. There appears to be a strong correlati on between finding the greatest and least number of ProppÂ’s Functions and Folktale F unctions alongside the greatest and fewest total Folktale Functions within each story. ProppÂ’s Functions, then, appear to be a good measure of total Folktale Functions. Data shows: In Figure 6, the 31 news stories are anal yzed for evidence of ProppÂ’s 31 folktale functions. From the sample, the July 20, 2005 news story exhibits 25, or the greatest number of ProppÂ’s Functions. The Ju ly 21, 2005 news story exhibits 3, or the fewest number of ProppÂ’s Functions. Both st ories score similar results when examined for Folktale Motifs in Table 2-C, exhibiti ng the greatest and least number of Folktale Motifs. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/1/20057/15/20057/29/2005 Folktale Motifs Figure 5: Folktale Motifs as Folktale Functi ons in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005.
83 Folktale Motifs include: Mythological Animals Tabu Magic The Dead Marvels Ogres Tests The Wise and the Foolish Deceptions Reversal of Fortune 31-Day Sample. The findings from the critical reading of the 31-day sample help explain why certain folktale functions might exhibit mo st frequently in the news stories, the characteristics of those functi ons, and implications of the fi ndings to future study of the socio-psychological dynamic of the folktale function in the local news story. Overall, despite brevity and the predominance of the tr aditional inverted-pyr amid structure, the month sample of news stories exhibits many fo lktale functions and characteristics, which negates the original findings fr om the first part of the analys is that sugges ted a correlation between traditional story style and the number of folktale functions found in each news story. A strong correlation between the Proppi an functions and the combined folktale functions also becomes apparent in this study, making ProppÂ’s Functions appear to be a solid indicator of the overall folktale func tions. Finding the Master Myth in each news story does not appear to indica te a prevalence of folktale functions in each news story, however, the most prevalent Folktale Motif from the sampled stories is the Master Myth. Ordaining the Future Chance and Fate Society Rewards and Punishments Captives and Fugitives Unnatural Cruelty Sex Religion Traits and Character Humor Miscellaneous Groups and Motifs
84 0 5 10 15 20 25 7/1/20057/15/20057/29/2005 Propp's Folktale Functions Figure 6: ProppÂ’s Functions as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. July 2005. (Continued) ProppÂ’s Folktale Functions include: (Initial Situation) Abstentation Interdiction Violation Reconnaissance Delivery Trickery Complicity Villainy (Lack) Mediation Counteraction Departure First Function of Donor HeroÂ’s Reaction Receipt of Magic Agent Spatial Transference Struggle Branding Victory Liquidation Return Pursuit Rescue Unrecognized Arrival Unfounded Claims Difficult Task Solution Recognition Exposure Transfiguration Punishment Wedding
85 Figure 6 (Continued): ProppÂ’s Functions as Folktale Functions in 31 Day News Story Sample. Figure 6 is a bar graph illustra tion of the number of Proppian fo lktales that exhibit in each of the 31 stories sampled. The bar graph s hows a comparison of the number of Proppian functions in each news story sampled, with va riation throughout the sample that suggests variety in seemingly formulaic and repetitive story samples. Limitations Any critical reading is largely dependent on the reader and referent, and this evaluation of the story text for folktale functions is dependent on an understanding and application of those functions. In order to find universal symbols like folktale functions in the folktales and news stories sampled, th e reader needs to have a comprehensive understanding of myth, folktale types, f unctions, motifs and dramatis personae. As Joseph Campbell explains: Â“one knows the ta le; it has been to ld a thousand waysÂ” (Campbell, 1949, p. 387). But how can any reader know, for example, every manifestation of the hero and victim myth in the news story or folkta le? Is the heroÂ’s and the victimÂ’s function really so universal within stories? Part of the folkloreÂ’s function is its ability to create variant of story thr ough diffusion and retelling in the oral medium (Brunvand, 1998). Is the discovery of hero a nd victim as a popular myth motif in the local news stories sampled really evidence of uni versal themes in all news stories, or is this discovery more the product of local cult ure or personal values? At the end of the critical reading, there are addi tional questions for research. In deconstructing the analysis, what ma y have been unearthed, in this close critical reading of the text, could be nothing more than a reflection of the way this studyÂ’s
86 writer sees and evaluates the world through stories. Even a consistent application of structural methodologies in the analysis of the text ultimately ends in one personÂ’s interpretation, and application of those methods to the story text. The most consistently coded sample cannot prevent the readerÂ’s inte rpretation of the samples from creeping into the mix. A critical reading, even well defined, is still the product of the reader. The reader provides the ultimate variable in the evaluati on of universal themes. One readerÂ’s prince, after all, may be another readerÂ’s frog.
87 Chapter Five: Conclusions This chapter provides an overview of th e research and expl ores the way local news stories might function like folktales, with implications for further investigation into how the folktale might function as a psyc hodynamic within news st ories, and how the local news story may be a less objective a nd more story-driven form of news writing, with roots in the folklore tradition. This study concludes that myths, moti fs, characters, and themes that are traditional folktale functions are also evidenced in news writing in the local news stories sampled. Within the series of local news stories sampled from July 2005, a prevalence of certain myths, motifs, and persona were discovered. Summary The findings from the 35 total stories sampled show that myth is the most popular folktale motif, and that the hero and victim myths are the most popular master myths in the sample. The set of myths was limited to victim, scapegoat, hero, and otherworld. From this set, 34 of the 35 stories sampled exhibited myth as a motif. The prevalence of the hero and the victim myth in the local news story reinforces Lvi-StraussÂ’ idea of the mythic paradigm. If this mythic paradigm is apparent in the local news stories sampled, is there a subjective theme at work in the selection of local news stories? In the 31news stories critically read from the sample, the hero and helper personae most frequently presented, hero showin g in 26 of the stories and helper in 22 of the stories. These personae support the preval ence of the hero and victim myths in the
88 stories sampled. Further research of how and wh y these folktale characteristics present in the stories would only go deeper into the subjective thematic nature of these local news stories. Finding folktale func tions in the news stories samp led may simply suggest that there is a consistent folktale theme in news stories that is part of the story tradition of news writing. The various functions of the folktale then, might mirror the various functions of the news story. The presence and prevalence of the folktale functions in the local news stories further suggests that ther e is a strong relationship between the local selected folktales and the local selected news stories that may extend to the parallel nature of folklore and journalism. This study may imply that journalism performs a sociopsychological role in a local cu lture similar to the role played by folklore in a local culture, and that the journalist may perform a role similar to that of the folktale-teller. What this study has attempted to show is how the nature of folklore and the nature of journalism intersect both in text and in function with in text, as two storytelling traditions that may satisfy psychological a nd social needs for meaning-making within a culture. The local news stories and folktale s were selected to specifically show how folklore functions in text to provide a sens e of meaning and identi ty within a culture. News writing, as a field of conversationa l storytelling, is not merely a strong psychological and social force affecting a culture It is also a form of storytelling that answers a psychological and soci al need within a culture, much like folklore. As such, it is part of the story-telling genre that traditionally answers the need for meaning-making with traditional story themes. As LacanÂ’s (2004) work with the psychology of language suggests, stories never provide absolute meaning, but rather temporar ily provide sustenance until, as a culture,
89 we hunger for more. Perhaps this absence of an absolute explanation for things, coupled with the need for an explanation for things, explains why we must produce more stories, and repeat many of the same themes in these stories, whether they are folktales or news stories. This need may explain the periodical nature of news, and the need for the daily supplement of news stories. The idea of using myth and folktale th emes to create context and meaning through repeated application may help explain th e presence of a common-stock of folktale functions in the news stories sampled in th is study. We English-speakers, for example, understand the universal meanings of words, in part, because we have all agreed to use certain words in certain ways. This repeated or traditional use gives words their meaning. A repeated or traditional use of certain myths, motifs, dramatis personae, and Proppian functions in news stories may similarly be explained as employing the common language of story-telling known to the folk tradition. Use of common language and application of common functions in news stories makes th em more universally accessible. News writing, after all, is meant to be an accessible medium. It ma kes sense, then, that this study has found much evidence of the readily accessible themes and common-stock of folktale functions in the examined news stories. This study explored evidence of the folk tale theme and the variation of the folktale theme in news writing employing fo rmal structural methodology. As a critical reading, it examined the inner workings of te xt, using both structural and post-structural methodologies to uncover some strategies fo r finding meaning. Exploring the consistent folklore functions of news story text pr ovides one more method of examining meaning and knowing story. At best, this exercise has provided one more way of knowing the tale
90 that Â“has been told a thousand waysÂ” (Campbell, 1949). Recommendations This analysis provides the foundation for fu ture study that will seek to illustrate how the strong presence of the folktale function in the loca l news story might act as a socio-psychological dynamic within the loca l community, contributi ng to a strong sense of place and identity, and how inversely the weak presence of the folktale function in the local news story might similarly provide a w eak sense of place and identity. Further study should also explore how maintaining a str ong conventional sense of place and identity through folklore might actually reinforce trad itional stereoty pes, maintain the status quo, and impede the growth of a community. The next step in this criti cal reading of local stories is a discussion with storyproducers and story-readers, variants in the storytelling tradition. Ed itors and writers who directly produced the stories used in this analysis might be approached for their interpretations of the findings. Local reader s might be surveyed for their psychological responses to the sampled stories. Readers out side the local sphere should be provided the same survey, to gauge whether psychological re sponse to the stories is an effect of local culture. These additional steps in the critic al reading might provide a more complete picture of the way the folktale function in lo cal news stories relates to the local culture. The extent to which folktale functions in the sampled news stories provide the foundation for local lore and tradition should be further evaluated. It is crucial to look at th e effect of some of the di scoveries of this study. What does finding the subjective folktale function in the news story mean for the reader and the
91 writer, the consumer and producer of news? What does finding the prevalence of certain myth motifs in the news stories mean? Did th e journalists who wrote these stories make a conscious decision to use the c onventional hero and victim para digm in their stories? Did the journalists use myths in their stories that they thought thei r readers would respond favorably to and with interest? These ques tions cannot be answered in this study. A relational analysis of how writer and reader perceive th e folktale functions found in the sampled news stories must be conducted to begin to sketch some answers. It is also important to investigate further the idea of traditional storytelling in the local news stories. To do this, further study should import some ideas from literary analysis when evaluating the news story text th at exhibits a traditional folktale function. It is important to evaluate the traditional role of the journalist and the folktale-teller. Traditional is closely related to conventional. Hilton Als shar es some of the dangers of conventional plotlines in a review of theatre: Â…by sticking to structural and intellect ual conventions---running through the predictable cycle of rage, acceptance, blah, blah, blah, all in one ninety-minute act---Wade sells out her characters for ch eap laughs and cloyi ng sentimentality. Where she could have been a brave playwr ight, she has settled for being a popular one. (Als, October 10, 2005, p. 92) The folktale conventions of plot, myth, motif character and function are apparent in the news stories evaluated in this content analys is. Repeated use of the folktale function in the local news story could result in formulai c story structures th at regurgitate popular myths, plots, motifs, characters and functions. It is here, perhaps, that the line shoul d be drawn between folktale-teller and
92 journalist. The folktale -teller reinforces the story-telli ng tradition through repetition of well-worn themes, adapted to a variety of stor ies. These themes provide context, and their repetition reinforces the idea that things al ways were this way, and always will be. One role of the folktale-teller, then, is to preserve traditional stories and traditional folktale functions, including these myths, plots, motifs, characters and functions. The journalist, telling the stories of local people, shou ld not be bound by convention to tell the traditional story, using traditional folktale func tions. The journalist should endeavor to be a brave storyteller, one less concerned with re peating trusted story th emes and devices for mass consumption, and more concerned with telling the story forthrightly and well. Perhaps, this study of the folktale functions in local news stories may be used as a basis for evaluating the differing and complimentary roles of the folktale-teller and the journalist. Conclusions This study evaluated the selection of local news story texts for their folklore characteristics to show, in part, an introduc tion to further research into how folklore might act in the newspaper as part of a cultureÂ’s socio-psychological dynamic. The critical reading discovered that there are motifs, types, myths, dramatis personae and Proppian functions characteristic of the folktale in the sampled news stories. The study also discovered the persistence of certain myths and dramatis personae in the sampled news stories to the exclusion of others. The e ffect of these mythic and folktale functions within the local culture and the relationship be tween story reader and producer, is a path for additional research.
93 In showing the paradigmatic nature of journalism and folklore, and how news stories and folktales might be scrutinized using the same structural methodology, the study provided a model for conducting a similar t ype of conceptual analysis in additional texts. While this study only presented data interpreted in a closed system, without the variable of the referent and interpreter, it di d provide a template for applying a structural methodology to other story forms. As an initia l inquiry into the plausibility of finding folktale functions in the news, this study has elicited some positive results. The extent to which these functions play a part in the relationship between j ournalism and culture should be the subject of further investigation. The purpose of this study was to expand on earlier studies su ggesting that Â“the study of narrative should be at the center of any considera tion of news in its cultural contextÂ” (Bird & Dardenne, 1988, p. 79). It expl ored the local news story for evidence of the folktale tradition and compared socio-psyc hological function of th e news story to that of the folktale. Through direct application of the folktale f unctions to the folk and news story text, this study illustrated how a conten t analysis might be applied to news writing. Exploring textual eviden ce of journalismÂ’s folktale functions remains at the heart of this research into the cultural context of storytelling in the local newspaper.
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105 Appendix A: Folktale A Mermaid Point (WalterÂ’s Cove) Michael Geegan December 28, 2004 English Period 3 The air hung so heavy with humidity that I could feel its weig ht suffocating every pore on my body. Although the Sun was just be ginning to rise over Tampa Bay, I was already drenched in sweat from my efforts in obtaining fresh seafood. I had decided the previous night to get up early and drive out to MermaidÂ’s Point and check out the mullet populace for a possibl e southern-style brunch of fresh fried mullet, cheese grits, and hush puppies. Equipped with my trusty old ten-foot cast net in my white five-gallon plastic bucket, I ma de my way through the sandspurs and dune flowers to one of the few remaining undeveloped stretches of shoreline. Everywhere around me were those yuppi e-inspired urban dwellings. Complete with swimming pools, security warning signs, pe rfectly manicured lawns, and the telltale bark of some little neurotic ankle biter no larger than a good size rat. The smell of salt and mangroves at low tide made me think back to when I used to come to this very spot with my father when I was younger. I remember how back in those days th ere was no one living out here among the mosquitoes except an old hermit named Walter. My father remembered his father by the name of Captain Jackson and story has it he washed away in a hurricane one nightÂ…bed and all. I really donÂ’t know if itÂ’s true, and I really donÂ’t care. I like the image that it always conjures in my mind when I try to imagine the wind, rain, and the eventual
106 Appendix A: (Continued) hurricane force waves that washed in as he was screaming and trying to hold on for dear life as he was swept into the black torturous night and dragged down to the very depths of Davie JonesÂ’ Locker. His son Walter would never talk about it. He was 20 years old when the storm took the old man and he simply carried on th e tradition of renting rowboats and selling bait, fish, and crabs to whomever might come out his way. WalterÂ’s house was a rambling combinat ion of irregular rooms and additions added over time all comprised of everything from driftwood, to wreck ed boats, tin roof pieces, tar paper, and a coat of paint. It wa s raised up on old barnacle encrusted pilings which allowed for the constant rhythm of th e tides. There were usually wooden rowboats rocking gently with the waves and slight winds anchored in wait of an anxious fisherman out to try his luck. I remember Walter standing there on his dock attached to the structures that he called home. He always had his brown dog Salty right beside him. In fact, they were inseparable. That dog would see fish in th e water and dive in and get them. WeÂ’d sometimes fish for hours without a bite and that damn dog would simply lunge in the water and come up with a mullet in his mouth. In the background was Tampa Bay without any real trace of Tampa yet. Across the bay was still undeveloped with mangroves and seagrapes along the lonely, tr opical shoreline. Wa lter was the kind of scruffy that can only come from living your life outdoors without the luxury of modern day things such as electricity and running wa ter. Walter always smelled like low tide.
107 Appendix A: (Continued) The only fresh water available to him was what he caught off the roof and stored in 55gallon drums. He had them at every corner of his house arranged so that the angle of the roof provided a perfect aqueduct system into his rusty drums. My father and I always brought him ol d newspapers and batteries for his transistor radio. Since my father owned a ra dio and television st ore we once brought him an old black and white TV that worked on batteries which instantly became his most prized possession. Back then you were lucky to get one or two fuzzy channels but never mind Walter had finally connected with th e world around him. Life was simple and unhurried back them. One had time to just be there and take in all the elements around him without worry of the r eal world calling him back. Then one time we went out there after Hurricane Donna in 1964, and his house and all trace of it was gone except for a couple of pilings jutting out of the water where his house used to be. We never found out what had happened to him. It was like he never existed. We still threw the net or fished from the shore but it just wasnÂ’t the same without Walter being there encouraging us and letting us peer into hi s way of life and listening to his views about the land and water around him th at he loved so much. Walter was one of the original conservationists without knowing it. He was pa rt of what made Mermaid Point so special and Mermaid Point was part of him. CHAPTER 2 As I walked up and down the shoreline th at morning throwing my net at schools of mullet that always seemed to be just out of my reach, I noticed some small ripples and
108 Appendix A: (Continued) realized a school had been spooked and were he ading right in my di rection. I quickly put the salty wet weight line in my mouth and ar ranged the net in folds with just the right amount of weight dispersed in both hands. I held my breath and walked until they got closer and then let it glide up into the ai r and over their unsus pecting bodies. I was immediately rewarded with the pleasant sens ation of bumps traveling along the line to my excited hands and knew without a doubt I actually had fish in the net. A smile settled across on my face as I r ealized I would indeed be having grilled mullet for dinner. Coming here over the year s I wasnÂ’t always guaranteed something to eat. I slowly hauled in my net and as it dr agged along the shoreline I was pleased to see four healthy, fat mullet flopping about at my f eet. Mullet used to be so plentiful in this area that you couldnÂ’t even sell them but now they are considered a fast disappearing delicacy. ItÂ’s funny how something is not pri zed until it is in very low supply or on the verge of extinction. With all of the efforts to clean up Tamp a Bay it will never return to what it once was, but hey, youÂ’ve got to roll with the punches and besides today proved to be one of the luckier outings. As I stood there mesmerized by the si ghts and sounds going along all around me a small spider crab nibbled at my big toe ma king me jump in terror and then laugh at myself. I conjured up images from childhood of some type of creature from the deep hauling me off and devouring me. If only I knew what was in store for me next.
109 Appendix A: (Continued) CHAPTER 3 Across the flats from where I was standing, on the southernmost island of the Weedon Island chain there is an island called Ross Is land, which was home to one of the early pioneer families of this region. You can still s ee old barnacle-encrusted poles where their dock used to be, but stories have it that th ese folks lacked nothing except fresh water and basic supplies. Today, it is known for its raccoons and rattlesnakes. As I stood there with my hand covering my forehead to block out the glare, I could faintly make out the image of some one excitedly walking up and down the beach waving their arms wildly. It was much too far away to make out much detail but I saw the little figure drag a boat out of the bushes and down to the waterline. I then saw him push the boat into the water a nd with a final shove jump into it and grab two oars placing them into the oarlocks and start pumping madly in my direction. As I watched the little figure became larger with each stroke I wondere d just what this could be all about. When the little boat was about twenty yards out I could make out a man rowing with long unkempt hair and beard blowing in the breeze. He kept rowing until he reached directly to the unkempt hair and beard blowing in th e breeze. He kept rowing until he reached directly to the beach in front of me and ju st sat there rocking up and down on the small waves and staring at me. Â“Hello,Â” I said and he responded by not re sponding at all. As I stood there staring at him, a queer feeling came over me. It wa s like an apparition from long ago that I couldnÂ’t quite put my finger on. The kind of feeling you get when you awake from a
110 Appendix A: (Continued) dream that seems so vivid yet when you try to remember it, it slips away from you. All of a sudden, a chill swept over my body as I reali zed that the figure si tting not more than fifteen feet from me was the hermit Walter from my childhood. My mind struggled to comprehend the situation. My thoughts raced as I strived to assimilate just what was happening. Maybe I was having a flashback from the sixties. Maybe it was just possible for it made more sense than an old hermit from the past suddenly reappearing out of nowhere. I started doubting my sanity. The ol d hermit looked pretty much like he did back then. I stood there dumbfounded and fe lt momentarily paralyzed. How could this be? I mean, really. Walter was old when I was a young boy out there tagging after my father. How could he still be alive and surv iving out on that little spit of mangroves and sable palms? Â“Walter? Walter, is that you?Â” Â“Yes,Â” he replied. WhereÂ’s your father?Â” Â“My father?Â” I gasped. Â“Why, my father ha s been dead for over forty years. How did you recognize me? ItÂ’s been a long time.Â” Â“I remember the way you threw your net,Â” he said. Â“A way IÂ’d never seen before or since. You always threw it backwards. CanÂ’ t believe it even opens for ya. No sir, canÂ’t believe it even opens.Â” Â“Well, ah, ah, how have you been?Â” I st uttered as I struggled for something to say. I almost asked him if he needed batteri es for his radio and felt embarrassed that I didnÂ’t have any with me.
111 Appendix A: (Continued) Â“ Â’Bout the same,Â” he replied. Â“Most of the fish Â’bout gone these days Â’cept in that little cove of mine over on the island there,Â” he said as he nodded back towards the island. I felt the initial fear leaving me as my curiosity got the best of me like it used to when I was young and eager to know just how he lived, what his shack was like on the inside, how it looked and smelled. How his toilet was just a hole in the floor and how the little fishes and crabs seemed to always wait under it for the next feeding (I never actually saw the feeding but the image of it is still engraved in my mind). CHAPTER 4 A pelican dove into a sch ool of baitfish and I was inst antly pulled back into the present moment. Â“I remember you had an old dog by the name of Salty. He used to catch fish by diving underwater for them.Â” Walter just grinned, reached down, and pu lled up an old stained burlap sack and under it was an old dog fast asleep. It was one of those real old dogs, the kind with lots of hair missing and growths all over it. The old dog opened his eyes briefly, glanced at me, and then as if the effort was too much he let his eyelids drop full shut and was instantly back to sleep. My mouth dropped open. Walter just sat there staring at the old dog. The silence hung like a fog between us! I said, Â“Surely, youÂ’re not going to tell me that is Salty. That was forty years a go and most dogs are considered lucky if they live past
112 Appendix A: (Continued) fifteen.Â” I felt a slight tinge of pain and fear buildi ng inside me as my breathing became fast and erratic. Â“ThatÂ’s olÂ’ Salty alright,Â” said Walter in his casual manner. Â“Been livinÂ’ out there in that olÂ’ cove with me ever si nce them land people done run us off.Â” I started to feel cold al l over even though the temperat ure was well into the 90s. I took a couple of deep, slow breaths to try and regain my already badly shaken composure. My head felt like it was spinning and I felt as if I was in a dream. Only it wasnÂ’t a dream. The sun was out in full for ce. I pinched myself, threw saltwater on my face, rubbed it briskly, shook my body all over, and when I opened my eyes again there was Walter staring at me as if I was something to concerned about. Â“Wanna come on over to the cove? ThereÂ’ s plenty of fish there. You ainÂ’t gonna get much here IÂ’ll tell ya that much. Beside s, these rich folks donÂ’t cater much to people fishinÂ’ around their docks and shorelines. They think they own everything out here. Climb aboard. IÂ’ll bring ya back when youÂ’re ready.Â” My mind locked on two things at exactly the same time. I knew inside I should just get into my truck and drive as fast as possible to escape this apparition. The other thought centered around adventure and a genuine chance to break from the norm. My curiosity being stronger than any apprehension, I found myself climbing into the little wooden boat w ith the dirty water sloshing b ack and forth along the leaky floorboards. Walter just stared and for a moment I noticed a slight gleam of pleasure in
113 Appendix A: (Continued) his eyes. He pushed us off with his old paintscarred paddle, hooked it back into the rusty oarlocks, and slowly turned us around with the current in th e direction of his cove. Â“WhatÂ’s the name of your island?Â” I asked even though I knew it was Ross Island. Â“DonÂ’t have no name. I just call it Â‘The Cove.Â’Â” CHAPTER 5 I soon found myself drifting in and out of reality. Here I was looking back at my truck and those luxurious homes from an old leaky wooden rowboat with a forgotten recluse and his old dog, both, which s hould have been dead for decades. It was like entering a space/time c ontinuum. The sound of the old wooden oars scraping against the rusty oa rlocks combined with th e sloshing sound of water mesmerized me and a great calm settled over me making my mind crystal clear and totally free from distraction. I had the distinct feeling that I was meant to be here at this exact time and this exact place. I found myself cherishing these thoughts and felt a purge of excitement building up from within. The seagulls and os preys were circling and diving into the schools of baitfish that suddenl y appeared all around us. Larg er fish such as snook and redfish were suddenly visible and the water came alive with the sound of their jumping and snapping as they dove repeatedly into th e frantic schools of baitfish in their quest to take full advantage to fill their bellies. I was once again comforted with the reassuring thought that this was the way it was meant to be.
114 Appendix A: (Continued) CHAPTER 6 Upon stepping out of the boat onto the beach over at WalterÂ’s Cove, I was amazed to see so many multi-colored fiddler crabs sc urrying about. It had been so long since I had even seen any that seeing whole schools of them really caught me by surprise. There they were thousands of them running along holdi ng their little pinchers high in the air and running to the shelter of the grass and thei r little holes, which was their defense. Walter secured the little boat by draggi ng it halfway up the beach and taking an old rock with an equally old rope out of it a nd carefully placing it fu rther up the shore and checking the line for tautness. He looked up at me, smiled and pointed towards a little path going into the thicket. After walking a few yards, my nostrils were rewarded with a most tantalizing aroma coming from an old driftwood smokehouse Walter ran past me with a big grin on his face and beard flowing in the wind. I s oon discovered when he pulled apart a couple split palm trees that were used as a door that there were layer upon layer of fish and crabs being smoke to perfection. He told me how he cleaned and split the mullet then let them soak in saltwater over night, and then smoked them over green mangrove wood. It was WalterÂ’s only means to make the little money he needed to provide him with all necessary to subsist on his island. He told me the only thing he really ever bought was coffee, sugar, flour, and kerosene for his lantern. Oh yes, he adde d that about once a year he bought hooks and fishing line to repair his nets and traps.
115 Appendix A: (Continued) I stood amazed and somewhat speechless. WalterÂ’s eyes seemed to sparkle as he asked if I was hungry. Before I could even answer he ran off again, this time to an old weather beaten shack that he had obviously erected out of wrecked boats and driftwood complete with palm leaf roof and patches of old canvas. I cautiously proceeded to the little sh ack made of scrap wood, branches, mud, and shells. As I peered inside I could see Walter carefully blowing on some ash-covered embers from earlier this morn ing. The sight of the sparks and smoke circling inside that dimly lit shack reminded me of a miniature tornado on a moonless night. Walter added some fresh kindling wood and whil e blowing on it he soon had a respectful little fire going inside that old metal car wheel he used as his fire pit. He dipped his old blue-speckled, smoke-s tained water kettle into a barrel of rainwater which was situated right outside the kitchen opening and placed it on the grate directly above the fire. He then reached into a cloth sack and came out with a handful of ground coffee and threw it into the kettle. I st ood there transfixed and time seemed to have stopped as we stood there staring at the ke ttle waiting for it to boil. I could hear the seagulls in the distance but it didnÂ’t seem to have any bearing on what I was doing or thinking. After an unimaginable length of time the smoke fr om the fire drifted up my nose and into my lungs and only by coughi ng was I brought back into the present moment. What seemed like an eternity was onl y enough time for the kettle to get hot. As I was rubbing my eyes and coughing I coul d make out Walter calmly pouring the coffee into two oversized chipped, tin cups. He handed one to me and I wasted no time getting it
116 Appendix A: (Continued) to my mouth and taking large sips even though it was still hot and ex tremely bitter. I was still cold and shaken from my experience but it sure cured my primal urge. Even now I ask myself where I could have gone in my mi nd. ItÂ’s probably better that I did not know what was still waiting for me that morning on that little spit of la nd with an old hermit and a forty year old dog. I decided to sit on an old salty tree trunk as I now sipped at my coffee my mind took in all the things Walter had scavenged over the years. From where I sat I could see old boards with faded paint that signified names of doom boats, discarded buoys from long forgotten fishnets or crab traps, shells and bones of every size and description. On the outside walls of his shack we re homemade fishing lures, ne ts in all stages of repair, and an old seagull outboard motor that may have been more at home in a nautical museum. Â“Wanna see the cove?Â” he asked as we finished our coffee. Â“Sure,Â” I said enthusiastically befo re my mind had a chance to interfere CHAPTER 7 I followed behind Walter as we made our way down the old, prickly pear pathway that led through the sc rub, Walter barefoot and I in my old soggy fishing sneakers. Salty was nowhere in sight and I t hought of him fast asleep somewhere near the shade of the old shack. The thought of a dog over forty years was starting to seem natural. The sky was starting to fill up with ra in clouds as is the custom around Tampa Bay and anytime the temperature creeps into the nineties and surrounded by this much
117 Appendix A: (Continued) water storms are a common occurrence. You used to almost be able to set your watch by them and if I remember correctly the sky would open at approximately 3:30 on a daily basis give or take a few minutes. After maki ng our way about a quarter mile we rounded a bend and there in front of us lay WalterÂ’s Cove complete with clear water and sugar white sand beach. Fish of all sorts were swimming, chasing, jumping, and escaping to and from each other. It was like watching so mething out of a Tarzan movie filmed at Silver Springs. There were palm trees full of coconuts. Banana and fruit trees. There was even a spring bubbling out of the ground and ru nning into the saltwater of the cove. Birds of all sorts were flying and chattering. I rubbe d my eyes to make sure I wasnÂ’t dreaming. As my mind started to slip away Walter shook me and said Â“Kinda nice, ainÂ’t it? Got everything I need right here.Â” My response was a faint smile and nodding my head in the affirmative. Words were beyond expression. The clouds suddenly became darker and a cool breeze settled over us bringing a much-welcomed relief. I started thinking of my truck back on the other shore, my house, and my job and friends back in the real world. Here I was on an impossibly beautiful cove with someone or something that was not of the normal world. My mind was fighting me over should I leave and return to my preci ous creature comforts such as browsing the supermarket for a snack du jour and then ru shing home to my empty house to check my answering machine that I knew would have no message. On the other hand, I considered just staying out at WalterÂ’s Cove and saying the heck with it all. As I stood there
118 Appendix A: (Continued) wrestling with my thoughts, Walter was totally relaxed and at peace in his element as he watched the activities going on in his own little piece of the world. Suddenly, a loud thunderclap made me re alize that I, on the other hand, was completely out of my element. The crea ture comforts won hands down and I had a sudden urge to return to my truck as fast as I could. CHAPTER 8 Walter sensed it was time to leave and without saying a word turned around and started walking back up the path. One last gl ance over my shoulder left me with an image of that special cove that I will never forget. We walked past the shack and I could see the smoke as it drifted up from the old wheel tire pi t and drifted lazily out of the holes in the roof. The smoke-stained kettle was quiet as it patiently waited on the old steel grate. Across the flats from where we approached th e boat for departure I could see all those houses seeming claustrophobically close to one another. Walter walked over to the smokehouse, re ached between the planks and palm leaves and pulled out a perfectly smoked mulle t. As I watched him make his way towards me holding that fish by the tail, sadness overcame me. A lonely homesick type sadness like I had never felt before or since. I knew I was leaving a special place apart from the hustle-bustle of the modern world and about to jump right back full th rottle into the roller coaster of modern society. I just let out a built up sigh a nd climbed into the old boat. Walter handed me the mullet and told me ta ke it home for later as he picked up the
119 Appendix A: (Continued) anchor, placed it inside the boat, pushed us o ff onto the water and jumped in at the last minute to take his place between the oars. Seeing him there barefooted and scruffy in his torn old clothes completely in his natural st ate with nature made me realize just how empty my life really was. Here I was with a reject of society who was supposed to be dead riding in a leaky old boat coming from an island with a special cove that shouldnÂ’t exist. Walter emitted a calming effect and didnÂ’t need to speak because his eyes and vibrations said it all. Walter had presence. When we reached close to the shoreline where I had been throwing my net that morning I climbed out with my prized mu llet tucked under my arm and waded to the beach. By the time I reached landfall I turned to say good-bye but Walter had already turned the boat around and was rowing back to the island. I called out to him but it was as if my words fell on deaf ears. He merely rowed steadily until he once again became a little cork bobbing on the waves. Thunder clapped harder this time and I hurried to pick up my bundle complete with cast net and a bucket of mullet plus my prized smoked mullet and hurried towards where I had parked my truck. Upon reaching th e truck I placed my bundle in the back bed and gazing once again towards the isla nd opened my door and climbed inside. The little boat was nowhere to be seen. Walte r had reached his home before the storm. I donÂ’t remember how long I sat pondering what had just happened. I sat in the fading shadows of the day with th e rain pounding down on the tr uck and pondered many things including my life and the direction it had taken.
120 Appendix A: (Continued) Another lightning strike and I started my truck, put it in gear and drove off into the night. I donÂ’t know or remember how l ong I just drove around in the rain before ending up at my house. Reprinted by Permission of the Author
121 Appendix B: Folktale B Peazy and Beanzy J. Russell Reaver During the 1950s and 1960s this tale became known to young women who were patients in the Florida State University infi rmary. It was told them by an elderly black attendant, who wished to remain anony mous but claimed the story came from Lousiana, where her mother had told it to her. This version was related to me by Virginia Spencer of West Palm Beach as she remembered hearing it. (Reaver, 1987, p. 130) Â“Now all you gather Â’round Â’nÂ’ IÂ’ll tell you Â’bout two liÂ’l childrens which was named Peazy Â’nÂ’ BeanzyÂ…they was sisters. They had an aunt what lived in the far east and they always wanted to go visit Â’er. Now Peazy, who was mean and hateful, decided to go first; so one day she started on her way to visit her aunt. Â“Pretty soon she came to a brook which was all stopped up with brush and stones. That old brook would just go Â‘BuzzzzÂ’ Â’nÂ’ Â‘groowllllÂ’ so loud Â’cause it couldnÂ’t skip along its way. But Peazy wouldnÂ’t pay no Â’tentio n; she just stepped over it and went on her way. Â“On the other side of the brook was a big ole plum tree that was all bent over Â’nÂ’ broken down, but would Peazy stop and help it? No, she saw it but just stepped on its branches as she walked Â’round. Â“Pretty soon she got to her auntÂ’s house, but that aunt didnÂ’t wanna keep her long.
122 Appendix B: (Continued) Peazy was lazy Â’nÂ’ wouldnÂ’t set the table or dust or nuthinÂ’. Â“She sez, her aunt sez, Â‘Peazy, you might as well go home; you donÂ’t help out your old seek auntÂ…you donÂ’t wash no dishes or do the chores,Â’ she sez. Â“Now lazy Peazy was glad to leave. She wasnÂ’t gonna stay at her rich auntÂ’s if she was gonna have ta work. So she left and on her way home she got ohh so hungry. Pretty soon she came to the ole sad plum tree and th air---right down in the middle of it---was a little fire and wood all set up, just like a litt le oven. And there sat a little cake aÂ’bakinÂ’. Â“ Â‘Ohhhh,Â’ she sez, Â‘IÂ’d like some of that cake.Â’ And so Peazy reached down with her hand to get some and Â‘swoooosh!Â’ came a bi g black crow a-flying down and picked the whole thing up in its beakÂ…just a-flappinÂ’ off with it. Â“Peazy cried, Â‘Ohh, IÂ’m so hungryÂ….Â’ And on and on she walked. Then she came up along to that ole buzzinÂ’ br ook and there, all build up on the twigs and rocks was the nicest liÂ’l fire. And right in the middle sat a black fryinÂ’ pan. Peazy smelled and smelled something good, then she saw in that skillet some fish a-fryinÂ’. She sez, Â‘Ummmm, I think IÂ’ll just have a piece of that nice fish, it look so good.Â’ A nd just as she reached down, that whole brook came unstopped ad the fi re Â’nÂ’ fish all went floating down that big ditch. Â“ Â‘Ohhh me oh myÂ… IÂ’s so hungry I thinks IÂ’ s gonna dieÂ…Â’ Â’nÂ’ Peazy begins to cry and goes to rubbinÂ’ her tummy. Â“And finally she gets home, her sides so skinny from hunger that her ribs was arubbinÂ’ together. AnÂ’ her mother was so mad at her fer beinÂ’ bad to the aunt that she even
123 Appendix B: (Continued) made her scat up to bed with no supper. Â“Next day Beanzy sez, Â‘Maw, why donÂ’ you let me visit Auntie ?Â’ So off goes the seconÂ’ sister to see that good ole aunt. Â“When she comes to that brook itÂ’s stopped up all over agÂ’in. Beanzy steps right over itÂ….But then she stops Â’nÂ’ turns Â’round and sez, Â‘Oh, you poor buzzinÂ’ brookÂ…you wants to run Â’nÂ’ play like the other liÂ’l brooks, donÂ’ you?Â’ So Beanzy pulls loose the sticks Â’nÂ’ stones that was clutterinÂ’ it up; then that brook goes merrily runninÂ’ on. Â“Then she comes to that poor plum tree all broke over Â’nÂ’ she sez, Â‘Poor tree, you wants to grow tall Â’nÂ’ straight so you can ha ve lotsa nice fruit, donÂ’ you?Â’ So she ties up that bent tree with a strip of material she to re right off her dress Â’nÂ’ on she goes to see her aunt. Â“It was even dark when she got there but she wasnÂ’t scared. Beanzy goes right into the kitchen and sez, Â‘Auntie, wh at can I do to help you? CanÂ’t I set the table or help with the cookinÂ’ or somethinÂ’?Â’ Â“So all the time Beanzy kept busy helpinÂ’ he r aunt with the chores Â’nÂ’ she stayed on one week, then two, and finally a whole month was up and she sez to her auntie, she sez, Â‘Auntie, I have to go home now to my mommy Â’cause she needs me to help her too. But IÂ’ll come back to see you again soon as I can.Â’ Â“ Â‘Youse been a dear liÂ’l ch ild, Beanzy,Â’ she sez. Â‘You isnÂ’ t lazy at all like your sister Peazy; so IÂ’m gonna give you this bag of money for your present. You is to take it home for your mommy and for you, but donÂ’t give none of it to Peazy, Â’cause sheÂ’s gonna hafÂ’
124 Appendix B: (Continued) to learn how to earn it by work inÂ’ like you already know how.Â’ Â“So Beanzy thanks her aunt Â’n Â’ starts home. Just like her sister Peazy, she sees a liÂ’l cake baking in the middle of the plum tree, but no big crow takes it from her. She looks up Â’nÂ’ sees a tiniest liÂ’l hummingbird that co mes down Â’nÂ’ sits on her shoulder and sings the prettiest liÂ’l melody while she eats the cake. Â‘Ummmm, so good!Â’ she sez. Â“Then just like Peazy she sees some fish a-fryinÂ’ when she gets to the brook, and ummmmm, she gets to eat that too. Â“Then Beanzy got home. She wasnÂ’t hungry Â’cause sheÂ’d had so much to eat on the way home, Â’nÂ’ when she showed her mommy that bag full of money they both just danced a jig and her mommy sez, Â‘Now ainÂ’ t you glad I brought you up to be such an unselfish and helpful chile!Â’ Â“But mean Â’nÂ’ hateful Peazy just lay over in the corner a-kickinÂ’ up her heelsÂ….Bad girlÂ….Now, donÂ’ you chilluns be like her!Â” Reprinted by Permission of the University Press of Florida
125 Appendix C: News Story A Archives: St. Petersburg Times For the sake of his namesake; [SOUTH PINELLAS Edition] Abbie Vansickle. St. Petersburg Times St. Petersburg, Fla.: Feb 27, 2005. pg. 1.A Abstract (Document Summary) Corrections pursuant to 10-20-Life. That will be day for day.Â” Cumm ings and his wife, Diann, watched their son handcuffed, fingerpri nted and led away. Dad felt numb. Before he left the courthouse, he knew what he ha d to do. If it was the missing rifle that so disturbed the judge, Cummings wo uld just have to get it ba ck. He didnÂ’t know that it would make a difference, but it was all he could pin his hopes on. His son said he traded the gun to a drug dealer in Crystal Ri ver. At least Dad had somewhere to start; Correctional Institution to vi sit their son. Often it was Da d. They would sit at a table outside, under rings of barbed wire. Cummings told his son l ittle about his search for the gun, only that he was working hard to get it back. Business at the bait shop was bad and getting worse. Bait shops are about personal ity, Cummings said. An owner has to earn customersÂ’ trust. Weekends were prime ti me for sales, but business came second to visiting his son. In his spare time, Cummings would sit at the computer and read appeal briefs and legal documents. He called lawyer s, including two in California, asking for advice. He read up on the 10-20-Life law, le gislation Florida passe d in 1999 to drive down violent crime. Under the law, co mmit a crime with a gun, you get 10 years in prison. Last May, about a month after [D aniel Cummings] was sentenced, the phone
126 Appendix C: (Continued) rang at the bait shop. The caller said he was th e drug dealer. He said he didnÂ’t have the gun, but he might be able to find it. Cummings explaine d his sonÂ’s situation and promised the dealer the family was not work ing with the SheriffÂ’s Office or anyone else. They only wanted that gun. Â“I gave that ma n my word that I would not involve him in this,Â” he said. A month went by, nothing. Th e dealer called back, said he was still working to find the gun. Cummings thought the dealer was testing him, making sure he could trust him. From June to October, the dealer called about a ha lf dozen times. They never met; they spoke only by phone. In late Oct ober, the dealer called with word that the people who had the rifle were ready to d eal. They wanted CummingsÂ’ daughter, Krystle, to meet them in Crystal River near Copela nd Park, an area with a reputation for drugs. Cummings was hesitant, but he agreed to send her. She took $1,000 in cash and returned with a gun. Cummings took one look and rea lized it was the wrong one. He and Krystle drove back to Copeland Park, where they f ound someone who knew the dealer. They told the man they were willing to pay another gr and for the right gun. The man said heÂ’d pass on their message. The next afternoon, anothe r call. The people wanted Cummings to meet them at a gas station in Crystal River at dusk. Bring the reward money, Cummings was told, theyÂ’ll lead you to the gun. Cummings kne w it could be another setup, but by then he had put so much into it and talked to th e dealer so many times, he felt an odd sense of trust. What choice did he have? He had li ttle to lose except a nother $1,000, a pittance compared to the more than $50,000 he had spent in legal fees. He didnÂ’t have the cash on
127 Appendix C: (Continued) hand, so asked his father, a retiree. Â“I told him I was trying to get what Daniel traded away,Â” Cummings said. His father gave him the $1,000. Cummings stuffed the cash in his pocket and drove to Crystal River. Two men waiting at the gas station told him to follow in his car. They drove to a dead-end street in a quiet neighborhood. The daylight was nearly gone. Cummings handed over the wad of cash. The men pointed to a clump of bushes about 50 feet away at the e nd of the street. Over th ere, they said, the gun is in the bushes. They drove off. He fe lt around the bushes. His hand grazed something wrapped in plastic. He stuffe d it in his trunk and got out of there as quickly as he could. In a Burger King parking lot, he felt safe to open the trunk. Full Text (2102 words) Copyright Times Publishing Co. Feb 27, 2005 Corrections pursuant to 10-20-Life. That will be day for day.Â” Cumm ings and his wife, Diann, watched their son handcuffed, fingerpri nted and led away. Dad felt numb. Before he left the courthouse, he knew what he ha d to do. If it was the missing rifle that so disturbed the judge, Cummings wo uld just have to get it ba ck. He didnÂ’t know that it would make a difference, but it was all he could pin his hopes on. His son said he traded the gun to a drug dealer in Crystal Ri ver. At least Dad had somewhere to start.; Correctional Institution to vi sit their son. Often it was Da d. They would sit at a table outside, under rings of barbed wire. Cummings told his son l ittle about his search for the gun, only that he was working hard to get it back. Business at the bait shop was bad and getting worse. Bait shops are about personality, Cummings said. An owner has to earn
128 Appendix C: (Continued) customersÂ’ trust. Weekends were prime ti me for sales, but business came second to visiting his son. In his spare time, Cummings would sit at the computer and read appeal briefs and legal documents. He called lawyer s, including two in California, asking for advice. He read up on the 10-20-Life law, le gislation Florida passe d in 1999 to drive down violent crime. Under the law, co mmit a crime with a gun, you get 10 years in prison. Last May, about a month after Dani el was sentenced, the phone rang at the bait shop. The caller said he was the drug dealer. He said he didnÂ’t have the gun, but he might be able to find it. Cummings explained his sonÂ’s situation and promised the dealer the family was not working with the SheriffÂ’s O ffice or anyone else. They only wanted that gun. Â“I gave that man my word th at I would not involve him in this,Â” he said. A month went by, nothing. The dealer called back, said he wa s still working to find the gun. Cummings thought the dealer was testing him, making su re he could trust him. From June to October, the dealer called about a half dozen times. They never met; they spoke only by phone. In late October, the dealer called with word that the people who had the rifle were ready to deal. They wanted CummingsÂ’ daught er, Krystle, to meet them in Crystal River near Copeland Park, an area with a re putation for drugs. Cummings was hesitant, but he agreed to send her. She took $1,000 in cash and returned w ith a gun. Cummings took one look and realized it was the wrong one He and Krystle drove back to Copeland Park, where they found someone who knew the dealer. They told the man they were willing to pay another grand for the right gun. The man said heÂ’d pass on their message.
129 Appendix C: (Continued) The next afternoon, another call. The people wa nted Cummings to meet them at a gas station in Crystal River at dusk. Bring th e reward money, Cummings was told, theyÂ’ll lead you to the gun. Cummings knew it could be another setup, but by then he had put so much into it and talked to the dealer so ma ny times, he felt an odd sense of trust. What choice did he have? He had li ttle to lose except another $1,00 0, a pittance compared to the more than $50,000 he had spent in legal f ees. He didnÂ’t have the cash on hand, so asked his father, a retiree. Â“I told him I wa s trying to get what Daniel traded away,Â” Cummings said. His father ga ve him the $1,000. Cummings stuffed the cash in his pocket and drove to Crystal River. Two men waiting at the gas station told him to follow in his car. They drove to a dead-end street in a quiet neighborhood. The daylight was nearly gone. Cummings handed over the wad of cash. The men pointed to a clump of bushes about 50 feet away at the end of the street Over there, they said, the gun is in the bushes. They drove off. He felt ar ound the bushes. His hand grazed something wrapped in plastic. He stuffe d it in his trunk and got out of there as quickly as he could. In a Burger King parking lot, he felt safe to open the trunk. Sure enough, there was Candice MillerÂ’s name inscribed on the bolt se ction, just below the scope. The judge was wrong: The rifle hadnÂ’t been sa wed off. It was as good as new. Judge Ric Howard paused before sentencing Daniel Cumm ings. The 19year-old was a first offender, and he had confessed to everything. He broke into a frie ndÂ’s home, stole a rifl e and then swapped it for 3 grams of cocaine. From another hom e he stole a safe loaded with guns. The judge thumbed through DanielÂ’s court fi le. Â“Look through this, nothing jumps out,Â”
130 Appendix C: (Continued) Howard said. Â“Just the hard-working young man. Comes from a good family. DadÂ’s a shrimper, store owner. Family members, num ber of marriages, zero. Number of children, zero. IÂ’ve had 18-year-old boys that have three children standing in front of me.Â” In the courtroom gallery, the young manÂ’s father relaxed. Danny Cummings knew his only son, his namesake, made ba d choices in the few months he had spent on his own. A bit of tough love and a few years of probati on were just what he needed. The judgeÂ’s voice changed sharply. Â“God knows where that gun is right now,Â” Howard said. Â“God knows how many drug dealersÂ’ hands it has gone through. And God knows how dangerous it is.Â” The rifle had slid into the underbelly of the drug world, the judge said. It probably already had been sawed off. The onl y thing sadder than or dering a prison term for a young man with no criminal history and a supportive family, Howard said, is to listen to a victimÂ’s family whose loved one was shot by a drug dealer. Â“He is sentenced to 10 years in the Depart ment of A 47-year-old shrimper, Cummings runs a bait shop in Inglis, a one-stoplight to wn on U.S. 19 just north of Citrus County. Diann works for a medical company in Ocala. They knew their son was into trouble after he moved out and rented a house with his girlfriend. Mrs. Cummings noticed first. She remembered her son falling asleep easily at the bait shop. Her husband told her not to worry, heÂ’s just a kid whoÂ’s been out late. He didnÂ’t see the signs. The Citrus County SheriffÂ’s Office arrested Daniel on Ju ne 26, 2003. His crimes were hardly the work of a pro. He broke into a close friendÂ’s house and st ole her hunting rifle, a Savage .243. Her name, Candice Miller, was en graved in Old Englishstyle letters
131 Appendix C: (Continued) on the side. Only a few people, including Dani el, knew where she kept it. ThatÂ’s the gun he swapped for a few hundred dollars worth of cocaine. Two weeks later, Daniel and some acquaintances broke into another house an d stole a safe with money and guns in it. In mid afternoon, he roped the safe to his purple Ford Ranger and dragged it clattering through a subdivision. The rope snapped, a nd he abandoned the safe along the road. Daniel was arrested and confessed to bot h crimes. Cummings knew his son had drug connections in Citrus County. Those were th e connections Dad needed to find the gun. His 21-year-old daughter, Krystle, provided th e first clue. At a bagel shop in Crystal River she ran into a relative of the drug d ealer. Krystle said her father was dangling a $1,000 reward for the gun. The dealerÂ’s rela tive said she would spread the word. Nearly every weekend, Cummings or Dia nn would drive about 50 miles north to Lancaster. He showed Diann the gun. He called his son. He called Loren Rhoton, the Tampa lawyer handling DanielÂ’s appeal, and said the gun needed to be returned to its owner. Rhoton called the Citrus County SheriffÂ’s Office; on Nov. 1, Detective Dave Coles came to the bait shop to pick up the gun.Coles asked Cummings how he found it. Cummings was vague, said some friends helped him track it down. The detective told Cummings he would return th e gun to Candice Miller. He ended up giving it to her mother instead. Miller was gone; sh e had enlisted in the Army shortly after Cummings confessed. Â“I wanted to go away and do something,Â” sh e said. Â“In the Army you have to trust the people youÂ’re around because you have to go to wa r with them you have to trust them.Â”
132 Appendix C: (Continued) She and Daniel used to do homework toge ther. Now 21, she knew he was lying when he said he didnÂ’t know anything about the break -in. His betrayal tore her up. The appeals court could not rule on new evidence, so Rhot on did not mention the gun in his request to overturn DanielÂ’s sentence. In a unanimous decision issued Dec. 10, the 5th District Court of Appeal said Daniel Â’s 10-year sentence was legal. But Judge Vincent Torpy wrote a separate opinion that criticized the Â“unduly harshÂ” prison term for a property crime by a young, first-time offender. He suggest ed Daniel could have been sentenced as a youthful offender, which would have exempt ed him from the provisions of 10-20-Life. Now with TorpyÂ’s opinion and the gun retr ieved Rhoton filed the paperwork: He asked Judge Howard for mercy. At the heari ng Feb. 16, Rhoton offered the judge an array of reasons to shorten the senten ce. In his 10 months in prison, Daniel had worked an extra job, had taken a college course in computers and had a clean di scipline record. This for a young man with no prior criminal record, convicted of a nonviolent crime. Danny Cummings testified. He told th e judge how he searched for th e rifle, how he met with two strangers in Crystal River, bought it back and returned it to its owner. The judge said none of DanielÂ’s exemplary prison record m oved him. Nor did the arguments about the clean record. If not for the rifle, Howard sa id, Â“I would have denied this motion without hearing.Â” But the father had lowered himself into the Â“s eamy sewer worldÂ” of drugs for his son and brought a weapon back from that world, Howard said. He ordered that Daniel be released from prison and put on probation. Even the cour t clerk had tears in her eyes. Does law
133 Appendix C: (Continued) enforcement applaud DadÂ’s efforts? Yes and no. TheyÂ’re impressed with what he did, but if they had known what he was up to, they would have discouraged him. Â“We certainly wouldnÂ’t recommend anything th at would put a citizen in a potentially dangerous situation,Â” Detective Coles said through a sheriffÂ’s spokeswoman. Assistant State Attorney Thomas Boll said he was shocke d to hear how Danny Cummings found the gun. Â“He took a real gamble doing that,Â” Boll said. Â“That was not a safe situation. Got to be impressed with the father. He was willing to go a long way to help his son. Â“ItÂ’s incredible that they we re able to get it back. We certa inly donÂ’t advocate for people doing that. ItÂ’s very risky.Â” The day after the hearing, a sunny Thur sday afternoon, Danny Cummings pulled his white pickup truck into the parking lot at th e Citrus County jail, where they kept Daniel until his release paperwork went through. Krystle was there, as was Kiefer, the familyÂ’s mild-mannered Rottweiler. Danny Cummings dre ssed up for his sonÂ’s release. He wore a dress shirt and tassele d shoes. He waited impatientl y, not quite believing it was happening. He had spent most of his lifeÂ’s sa vings, nearly lost his business and knew more about the legal system than he cared to know Â“I ainÂ’t lived in the last yearÂ” but it was worth it. Shortly before 6 p.m., the jail Â’s metal door swung open and out stepped Daniel, slender and casual in jailhouse plastic flip-flops Father and son embraced, grinning. Â“You any smarter ?Â” Danny Cummings said. His son nodded. Â“I wanna haul a-away from here.Â” Anywhere you want, Dad said.
134 Appendix C: (Continued) Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduc tion or distribution is prohibited without permission.
135 Appendix D: News Story B Archives: St. Petersburg Times Tougher rules urged for owners of exotic animals; [STATE Edition] Nicole Johnson. St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Mar 9, 2005. pg. 3 Abstract (Document Summary) The new rules donÂ’t affect current exotic an imal owners like [Gini Valbuena], because they are grandfathered into the former rule and regulated by the state. But county officials hope the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conserva tion Commission will follow their lead and toughen their rules on exotic animals. The conservation commission regulates the licensing, permitting and monitoring of the hundr eds of locations where exotic animals are kept across the state. The animals are divided into three classes. Class I, including tigers and venomous snakes, are considered da ngerous and can be used only for business or educational purposes. Class II are potentially dangerous, su ch as coyotes. Class III are not as dangerous and include certain nonvenom ous snakes. People must be licensed to keep Class I and Class II animals, which in clude tigers, chimpanzees, bears, venomous snakes, coyotes or cougars. A permit is required to keep Class III animals, such as certain crocodiles, raccoons and nonvenomous snakes. Full Text (535 words) Copyright Times Publishing Co. Mar 9, 2005
136 Appendix D: (Continued) Like most infants, Kira sleeps in a soft, cu shy baby crib a stoneÂ’s throw away from her mommy. Soon sheÂ’ll join her si sters in a hammock in a caged room with walls painted like a jungle. A little weird, you say? Not to monkey-mommy Gini Valbuena, who keeps three chimpanzees Kira, Kenya, 3, and Tan zee, 7 in her two-bedroom Clearwater home. Â“I didnÂ’t ask for a bike or a do ll at Christmas grow ing up,Â” Valbuena said. Â“I just wanted to have a monkey.Â” But a recent decision by Pinellas County to require cages containing livestock and some e xotic animals to be set back from property lines has suburban exotic animal owne rs contemplating heading for the hills. Previously, the cages were not regarded as structures and could sit anywhere on a property. Setback requirements will vary depe nding on zoning classifications, but will range from at least 7 feet for cages in singl e-family residences to 25 feet for people in agricultural estate districts. The ordinance directly affects people in unincorporated Pinellas. Municipalities have their own laws, said Will Davis, director of the countyÂ’s environmental management department. The ne w rules donÂ’t affect current exotic animal owners like Valbuena, because they are grandf athered into the former rule and regulated by the state. But county officials hope the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will follow their lead and toughen th eir rules on exotic an imals. The issue of exotic animals came to a head for Commissi oner Ken Welch when he saw a tiger in a cage on the back of a pickup in his St. Peters burg neighborhood. Â“I made the rest of the commission aware of what I had seen and c ontacted our animal services department,Â” Welch said of the incident that occurr ed in September. Â“I knew we could
137 Appendix D: (Continued) not regulate this, and we arenÂ’t attempti ng to.Â” The conservation commission regulates the licensing, permitting and monitoring of the hundreds of locations where exotic animals are kept across the state. The animals are divided into three classes. Class I, including tigers and venomous snakes, are cons idered dangerous and can be used only for business or educational purposes. Class II ar e potentially dangerous, such as coyotes. Class III are not as dangerous a nd include certain nonvenomous snakes. Last month, the county sent a letter to the conservati on commission outlining concerns and recommendations for ways to better regu late these animals. The county suggests requiring exotic animal owners to submit disaster plans to local emergency management departments and to require venomous snake owne rs to have antivenin. But officials with the wildlife commission say they encourage dialogue with localities, but they maintain their rules are already some of the most stringent in the c ountry. People must be licensed to keep Class I and Class II animals, which include tigers, chimpanzees, bears, venomous snakes, coyotes or cougars. A permit is required to keep Class III animals, such as certain crocodiles, raccoons and nonvenomous snakes. Â“Most donÂ’t understand what these owners have to go through to possess these animals,Â” said Capt. John West of the I nvestigation Division of Florida Fish and Wildlife. Â“ItÂ’s not willy nilly.Â” Reproduced with permission of the copyr ight owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibi ted without permission.