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"The Girl Without Any Hands"

"The Girl Without Any Hands." In Campbell, Marie. Tales from the Cloud Walking Country. Indiana UP, 1958. Rpt. Athens: U of George Press, 2000. pp. 163-65. A princess, blamed by her stepmother for her brother's murder, is punished by having her hands cut off by the king's servant. Left in the woods, she wins the pity of a prince who marries her. Her dead mother appears in a dream, telling her how to wash in a spring, restoring her lost hands, and cure her father's injured foot. Although she has been forced to tell no one christened in a church who killed the king's dog and boy, the king and prince later overhear her tell her baby who was to blame, and they punish the evil stepmother.

"The Girl With No Hands." In Musick, Ruth Ann. Green Hills of Magic: West Virginia Folktales from Europe. Illus. Archie L. Musick. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1970. pp. 139-44. After the Queen of Persia's death, her husband tries to keep his deathbed promise by marrying someone who looks like her, but three years later his daughter asks to be executed rather than marry her father. The executioners' sword won't cut off her head so she escapes to another land while they take the tongue and eye of a dog to the king as proof of her death, along with the girl's hands. When the king finds out he was deceived, he makes war on another king whose third son has found the girl (taking golden pears from his father's tree) and asked to marry her. During the war, the girl without hands is the prince's wife but must run from a murderous stepmother. She sees a wild hog go into a creek and come out with its missing leg restored, so she gets new hands in the magic creek. Jesus and Peter appear to help her when she lives on a farm and has a child. When the prince returns from war years later, he finds out that his father burned a dummy to trick the stepmother into thinking he had killed the prince's wife The prince searches for his wife, losing many men to the hardships of this quest, and has difficulty recognizing his wife with her new hands until he sees red lines on her wrists. Their son's gift from God allows him to ask for their instant transportation back home. The stepmother is brutally punished after saying that someone who persecutes the innocent should be torn to pieces. One full-page silhouette shows the girl without hands appearing to her future husband as she takes pears from his father's tree. Musick's notes (p. 288) indicate that this and other Polish tales came from John Novak, a Polish immigrant, with help from his niece Anne Conley, in Kilarm, 1952. The notes list European parallels and motifs.

See also:

Heroines who overcome great wrongs inflicted by male relatives in

Like Meat Loves Salt and Rush Cape

Pretty Polly or Mr. Fox

Rumpelstiltskin Adaptations

Compare with:

Tale type 706. Grimm Brothers, "The Girl without Hands." Transl. and reprinted online from the Grimms' final edition, 1857, by D. L. Ashliman. The Grimms' 1812 ed., translated by Edgar Taylor, with a shorter version, is online at The Girl without Hands. In this first Grimm edition, the devil, who makes a bargain with a virtuous girl's poor father, is responsible for making her father chop her hands off. After a king marries her, the devil again intervenes to do her harm. Later an angel helps the king find his wife and God restores her hands. Margaret Hunt's translation is reprinted and annotated at SurLaLune Fairy Tales by Heidi Ann Heiner, with illustrations, background and links to related tales across cultures.

"The Handless Woman: Healing and Wilderness." In Chinen, A. B. Waking World: Classic Tales of Women and the Heroic Feminine. New York: Putnam, 1996. A Japanese tale, similar to the Grimm Brothers' version, except that an evil stepmother turns the father against his daughter and later causes the girl to be cast out of her husband's house. The guilty parents are thrown into prison. The woman's hands are restored in a stream when she tries to catch her falling baby son. Followed by a detailed psychological interpretation by the author, a psychiatrist.

The Armless Maiden." In Russian Fairy Tales. Transl. Norbert Guterman from the collections of Aleksandr Afanas'ev. New York: Pantheon, 1945. Rpt. Random House, 1973. pp. 294-299. This orphaned maiden's arms are cut off by her brother after his evil wife blames her for three destructive acts of disobedience, including beheading their baby. After several years of wandering, she appears as a beggar before a rich merchant's only son, who insists on marrying her. While her husband is away, she gives birth to a child who has gold arms, stars on his side, a moon on his forehead, and "a radiant sun near his heart." The wicked stepsister intervenes in correspondence between the families, leading the heroine's in-laws to think their son ordered them to send her away. God restores her hands when she needs to rescue her baby that she dropped in a well. When she wanders to the house where her husband and brother are staying, they invite her in as a beggar woman to tell stories. Saying she tells the truth, she tells her own story until they recognize her and look at the radiance of her baby. Her brother ties his wife to his best mare's tail so that her body is strewn around an open field, while everyone else lives happily.

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