In the Native American version of Cinderella, the belief in women’s beauty and appearance is emphasized. The Cinderella in this story was “very small, weak, and often ill. ” She was treated so harshly by her older sisters. They burnt her hands and her feet with hot cinders without any reason, and it left many scars all over her body. As a result, many people called her “the rough faced girl. ” When she was willing to see the “Invisible One,” an ideal man for every woman in that village, her sisters and all the people in the village “shouted and hooted,” “hissed and yelled” at her.
No one could believe that the “rough faced girl” could see the “Invisible One” even though she was ugly and had rough face. On the other hand, the belief in the Vietnamese version of the Cinderella story has a big difference with the Native American’s version. In the Vietnamese version, Tam and Cam, Buddha was a form for their belief. In this story, Tam was the Cinderella, and Cam was the stepsister. When Tam had a rough time, Buddha always came to help her.
Vietnamese people had known Buddhism since the second century, and it gave a big influence to their culture, especially to their traditional fairy tale stories. In Buddhism, they teach their disciples about karma and reincarnation which is implied in Tam and Cam’s story. In this story, it showed that Cam died because of her mean behavior; she killed Tam and took her husband. Cam thought by doing all those things, she would live peacefully. However, it did not turn out like she hoped for which is a good example of karma according to Buddhism’s doctrine.
Reincarnation was also used in this story several times. When Tam was killed by her stepmother and her stepsister, she reincarnated into “a vang anh bird,” “a green thi tree,” and into real her form once again. According to the aspect of magic, the magic happened in the Algonquin Cinderella story after the sister of the “Invisible One” knew that Cinderella was the only girl that could see his brother. She took that rough faced Cinderella home and bathed her. Now, “the rough faced girl” turned into a very beautiful woman.
“As she did so, all the scars disappeared from her body. Her hair grew again, as it was combed, long, like a blackbird’s wing. Her eyes were now like stars: in all the world there was no other such beauty. ” (par 28). However, in Tam and Cam’s version, the magic is slightly different from the Algonquin Cinderella story. In Tam and Cam’s version, the magic happened by Buddha’s help. When Tam was upset that she did not have anything to wear to the festival, Buddha came to her and ask her to open the four jars that she had buried before.
When she opened them, she found “a beautiful silk dress,” “a pair of embroidered shoes,” “a miniature horse,” and “a richly ornamented saddle and bridle. ” The magic also happened when Buddha asked the birds to help Tam to separate the clean rice which was already mixed with “a basketful of unhusked rice. ” Moreover, the ending of the Algonquin Cinderella story is a happy ending. The Cinderella who used to be a poor little girl and got treated harshly by her sisters turned into a very beautiful woman. She was also able to see the “Invisible One” because of her pure heart, and she had the opportunity to become his wife.
Meanwhile, the Cinderella’s sisters were rejected by Invisible One’s sister because they were lying about their sight of seeing her brother. On the other hand, the ending for the Tam and Cam’s story is different with the Algonquin Cinderella story. The antagonist characters in this Vietnamese version died because of their bad behavior. Cam was killed with the boiling water. Tam also cooked her body “into ‘mam’ with a rich sauce and sent it to her stepmother, saying that was a present from her daughter. ”(par 65).
The stepmother died because she was very shocked after she found out that meal was her daughter’s meat. “… when the jar of mam was nearly empty, she saw her daughter’s skull and fell down dead. ” (par 67) Thus, the Algonquin Cinderella and Tam and Cam stories share the same message that good always defeat the evil, but they are different in their aspects of belief, magic, and their ending. These two stories have their own unique concepts base on their culture and society from each country, but in some ways, they have the same meaning and lessons as the original story of the Cinderella.