Thursday, May 23, 2013

Character Lessons from "The Little Princess"

Okay, so I admit that I'm a Shirley Temple fan. That is, a fan of her little girl movies. I'm not sure if I have a favorite one; I've seen them all, most of them countless times. At least I THINK I've seen them all. But for certain "The Little Princess," loosely based on a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is high up there. I never read the book, but from what I read at the YouTube video, someone said the ending to the movie is vastly different. I would love to hear from someone who could tell how the book ended.

But I wanted to take a few minutes to say some things about little Miss Temple's character in this particular story, Sara Crewe. There are a lot of other aspects of the movie I could talk about, and maybe someday will, but for now I want to focus on the character qualities displayed by Sara, which you may agree would be good examples for your children, both boys and girls. There's a good chance we'll be talking more here about this young actress who captured the hearts of many in her day. Not so much about the actress, but the movies and the stories they captured, some having many lessons. We'll see how that goes in the future.

So what of Sara Crewe, daughter of Captain Crewe who went off to war leaving her (he thought in good hands) at the girls school of the story's "villain," Miss Minchin? What can this "little princess" teach the young ones in your home about qualities of character that are universal and timeless? I've thought of five areas. Perhaps you could think of even more.

1. Her filial affection and respect towards her father. Surely this is to be desired in any household. She exemplifies Proverbs 6:20-22 in my opinion.

2. Her courage. In the face of dire circumstances, she was steadfastly brave and hopeful.

3. Her loyalty. I was particularly touched by her friendship with Becky, a servant girl much beneath her social status, which the social norms of the period would have prohibited. She loved and accepted Becky even before her decline in status. She didn't let the wrong opinions of others deter her from this.

4. Her unselfishness and generosity. At the birthday party, as she was a girl of means, you might have expected to see greed and selfishness, but we see none of that with Sara. Indeed, she seemed to find more joy in the giving than in the receiving.

5. Her trust in God. As we observe her prayer for the well being of her father and her temporary perception of a very speedy answer immediately after, we can believe this child had this trust as a basis for her expectations that the poem she recited at her father's departure (at his bidding) would hold true:

"My daddy has to go away,
But he'll return most any day.
Any moment I may see,
My daddy coming back to me."

With Sara as a fine example of a "good soldier," maybe you could watch this movie with your youngsters and talk about how a fictitious character in a fairy tale type story can teach them good things.

Maxine, a/k/a Nanna


  1. In the book, her father is dead and she is taken care of by a friend of her father's; in the movie, of course, her father ends up being alive. Much happier, but yes, different! :)

    Thank you for this post- I have talked about these things with my girl as we've watched the movie; one of our favorites as well! We've also admired the way Sara works so hard in spite of the fact that she was quite pampered before; the kindness of her spirit stays intact even though her circumstances do not.

    I send love!

  2. Love back, Elise! Thanks for this info; it's exactly what I wanted to know. That is indeed a different ending. I like the movie. I tend to not be realistic at times and want the happy ending. ;)

    Good ones: kindness and diligence are indeed two character qualities you find in Sara!

    I am so glad you talk to your daughter about these things. This is what I'm pushing here and your comment is a big encouragement. Thanks for taking the time to do that.