Study Guide

Burn Fairy Tales

By Julianna Baggott

Fairy Tales

The fairy tale in Burn ain't like a Disney fairy tale. There are no fairy godmothers. There are no stirring musical numbers. There is no happily ever after.

Instead, the fairy tale in Burn is kind of like the original fairy tales penned by The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson: violent, melancholy, and with an ending designed to scare the snot out of quivering children.

If we were to give the fairy tale in Burn a fairy tale-esque name, we'd call it "The Story of The Little Dome" or "Brave Man Willux." That's because the fairy tale occurring in this novel is a tale of total delusion… a delusion that comes crashing down like the façade of the Dome itself.

That's right: the Pures' lives are all fairytales. They're living within stories that make them feel better about themselves, at least initially. Iralene speaks talks about the fairytale that Willux created for their family:

"They were fairy tale versions of our lives. We loved ourselves in them. Each time he'd bring a new one to us, we'd savor it together." (35.14)

It really does read like a Grimm tale (and it's also uber-grim): a group of people were perfect and happy. But they were also under threat from a nebulous evil force outside of their house. One day, that same nebulous force huffed and puffed and blew their house down… and those perfect, happy people realizes that they had been the evil force all along.

Gulp. Try turning that into a Disney movie. (Although, to be fair, Disney sanitized the super messed-up Little Mermaid, so maybe they could do a number on the Dome fairy tale.)

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