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Setting

The story setting tends to be more “generic” in nature. The setting is more of a “backdrop”--vague and general. It is not integral to the plot--it could be set anywhere. However, the changes in plot are a result of the changes made to the setting. The plot line simply “makes more sense” to happen a certain way when the culture and backdrop change. This will be examined in more depth in the next section. When examining the setting, the backdrop buildings and scenery is the main focus of change

to depict the culture.

However, it is

factor also does not appear to make a

not necessary to change the setting difference in the story line either.

in

most

versions.

The

time

Aylesworth’s The Gingerbread Man takes place in a rural countryside in the early 1900s. The characters’ clothing is what distinguishes the time period. Another version that has a countryside setting is The Pancake Boy by Cauley. These two settings are strikingly similar--although one version is from the United States and the other in Norwegian. In most variants, the only change in setting is very subtle--the types of housing seen in the background. Such is the case The Bun from Russia, Johnny-Cake from England, The Fine Round Cakes from Germany. In several versions examined the setting is much more noteworthy and obvious. The Gingerbread Boy by Egielski is a more modern setting--taking place in inner city New York. The story begins in a Manhattan apartment and continues as the gingerbread boy is pursued through the city streets where you see him running past garbage- laden alleys, across clotheslines between buildings and even down in the subway stations. In Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Baby, the setting is a tiny snow-covered Swiss village surrounded by forests and mountains. The gingerbread baby races through the snow to escape capture by village workers and animals. In the Southwestern version, The Runaway Tortillas, the childless Hispanic couple lives near the Rio Grande in Texas. The runaway tortilla escapes from a taqueria, rolls through pueblos and into the desert encountering a variety of typical desert creatures. The Runaway Rice Cake by Compestine shows a typical village in China from the house style to the street vendors. The characters are dressed in appropriate attire.

Plot Analysis

The traditional tale of the Gingerbread Man follows a progressive plot line as shown below:

Climax

Conflict

Beginning

Exposition

Rising Action

End

The general plot of the Gingerbread Man tale is as follows: a piece of run away food is pursued by many different characters but consumed in the end. Since the progressive nature of the plot does not allow for significant change in the flow of the plot line, when analyzing how the plot changes it is important to look at where the plot changes as well as these subtle plot differences. This study found the there are three places where the plot line of the story most often varies:

  • The exposition -- the reason for creation

  • The conflict -- how the runaway food escapes from its creators

  • The climatic event -- how the food is caught, the trick of the captor and the manner of

consumption.

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