Wooden Realities

A Real Boy? Really?

I was watching Pinocchio with my niece last night and noticed something peculiar about how Pinocchio becomes a real boy. At the end, after Lil' P mortally sacrifices himself to save the life of his "father", the jocular, mustachioed Gepetto; Lil' P was not only awarded with the return of life but he is transformed into a real boy. The Blue Fairy grants Pinocchio authenticity in response to his proving himself to be brave, honest, and unselfish. Hmmm. This caught me as a bit of a surprise. Sure Lil' P was brave and definitely unselfish but he never quite did prove himself to be honest.

A Boy Who Won't Be Good, Might Just as Well Be Made of Wood

The only time he was tested in matters of truthfulness, his nose famously marched forward, practically poking the Blue Fairy. Never again in the film did this facet of character come under examination or trial. True, I'll admit he never again lies in the film, but then again he never is given an opportunity to actually tell a truth, thus never proving that he can. At the sentimental reunion of Lil' P and Gepetto, inside Monstro the Whale, there is a point where Gepetto notes Pinocchio's donkey ears and tail. Gepetto asks his "son" for an explanation, as God would a naked Adam. But before Lil' P is given a chance to answer, Gepetto disregards its relevance as he's overjoyed at being reunited with his boy. "Nevermind," Gepetto instructs him. Would Pinocchio have had told the truth if not interrupted? Maybe yes, perhaps no. The little wooden boy's track record for learning a lesson doesn't help him much. In fact, after falling for Honest John's dupe the first time he no sooner hails a second dupe, almost as if he was asking for it. There is no reason why we mightn't assume that Pinocchio had not yet learned his lesson about lying when Gepetto asks about his ass-like features. Of course, we'll never know.

Since Pinocchio did not prove himself to be honest through action, is there another criteria by which the Blue Fairy has judged him so? Is there a logical adherence between her three conditions that governs, if two of the conditions are true then in fact, all three are true? If so, then this is never made clear. However, if Pinocchio has proved himself to be brave and unselfish, then that logical adherence would automatically include honesty and explain the Blue Fairy's decision.

Little Puppet Made of Pine, Awake. The Gift of Life is Thine

Being certain that there are cowardly, selfish individuals who, proudly, are honest; and brave, selfless individuals who are dishonest, I can only comment on how brash the Blue Fairy's reasoning can be if such a reasoning was at all instrumental to her decision. There is also the possibility that to a wooden boy, bravery and sacrifice are of different value than to a human being, and its just a matter of proving the capacity for two out of the three and gaining the third gradually. Let us not forget the Blue Fairy deals with magic, not science or logic. This leaves so much open in ambivalence.

However, viewed exclusively from her words and Pinocchio's actions, (magic aside) there is a carelessness in the Blue Fairy's final decision. I would argue she has been carrying that wand for either, too short or too long a time and has become compromised. To the benefit of the film and Pinocchio, she hastily judges Lil' P's case. I can only hope someone hastily judges mine.

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