Unburied Fables Discussion Questions

Welcome to the GreatAce.Club round up, below you’ll find all the Unburied Fables Discussion questions. Also included is a suggested reading schedule, but as always these posts are designed so you can read at your own pace.

Suggested Reading Schedule:

Week One –  Handsome & the Beast, The Grateful Princess and Odd!

Week Two – Expectations, Li Chi and the Dragon, & Satin Skirts and Wooden Shoes

Week Three – Glass Mountains – Brenna – The Last Lost Boy

Week Four –  Dark Matters & The Suns of Terre

Handsome & the Beast
The first story in the anthology is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast!

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • One common aspect of fairy tales is repetition. What effect does the repeated line “Fate might have heard” have on the narrative?
  • How do the characters respect the rules of fairy tales? What rules did you notice?
  • What significance do the colors of the rose and uniform have?
  • How does Handsome grow and change?
  • How do the various rooms and dreams hint at the true nature of the castle and the Beast?
  • ”Sometimes there is more goodness in the hearts of Beasts than in those of people.” This is a significant quote in the story; what meaning does it have in a greater context? What is the significance of the person being perceived as a Beast? How does Handsome see through that? And how is it also significant that Handsome is handsome while the Beast is a beast?
  • What impact does Handsome’s speech have?
  • What kind of happily ever after does this tale have?
  • If you had to pick a moral for this tale, what would the moral be? Why?

The Grateful Princess
The second story in the anthology is based on an Estonian fairy tale called The Grateful Prince.

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • What common fairy tale tropes do you notice? How does the author utilize them?
  • How do we see Tuline falling for Lind? How does the author take this common trope and make it gay?
  • How does this story utilize repetition? What effect does it have on the plot and pacing?
  • What role do strangers play in fairy tales? How is this a reflection on real life and how are characters’ various reactions to strangers a lesson for children?
  • How do Lind’s actions show her own feelings for Tuline?
  • What kind of happily ever after does this tale have?
  • Tell me about the life you imagine Tuline and Lind having together.
  • If you had to pick a moral for the story, what would it be? Why?

Odd
(Psst, Amy here. this is my story! :D) The third story int he anthology is based on the fairy tale Rumplestiltskin.

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • Bragging is also a common fairy tale trope. What role does bragging play in the story? How could that trope be used to teach children lessons?
  • In what ways is the king very like men in positions of power? How does he use this against Sofia?
  • It is important for Sofia to remain true to herself in this story. In what ways does she defy the king, his expectations, and the expectations of society to stay true to herself?
  • How does Sofia’s curiosity help her?
  • What types of repetition do you see in this short story? How do they play into the plot?
  • What future do you imagine for Sofia?
  • What other fairy tale tropes did you notice? How did they impact the story?
  • What kind of happily ever after did this story have?
  • If you had to pick a moral, what would it be? Why?

While I know the questions are set up by story, I wanted to take a moment to talk about fairy tales and see what the three stories we’ve read so far have in common! Other than happily ever afters, of course!

  • What are common fairy tale tropes you see in all three tales? What predictions do you have for tropes we might continue to see?
  • Which tropes are your favorites? Which are less so? Why?
  • All three of the stories involve some kind of stranger; why do you think strangers feature so prominently in fairy tales? What lessons can be learned from the way the various tales deal with meeting strangers?
  • How do the various strangers act towards the protagonists? How do they act in return?
  • We often think of fairy tales as always ending happily, but they quite often do not. How do these tales create happily ever afters? What does that mean for the queer community?
  • How do fairy tales teach us to be true to ourselves? How is that important for the queer community and how do these three tales highlight the importance of being true to yourself?

Expectations

The next story in this anthology is a wave to many different fairy tales, but mostly The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain.

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • What common fairy tale elements and tropes are present in this story? How does the author change them to be LGBT+?
  • One of the things that frequently gets criticized in fairy tales is how female characters, or female presenting characters, are often more prop than person with very little agency. How do we see this in this story? How do we see the same lack of agency in Aldric?
  • One of the themes that seems to be in all of the stories so far is the importance of being true to yourself. How does Aldric embody this? Shireen? Giselle?
  • How does the phrase “money can’t buy happiness” apply to this story?
  • If you were going to choose a moral for this story, what would it be? Why?

Li Chi and the Dragon

The next story in the anthology is a retelling of the Chinese fairy tale, Li Chi Slays the Serpent

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • How does this fairy tale show some real life prejudices?
  • Characters in fairy tales often do well because they are clever and think outside the box. How does Chi do this? What are some other examples we have seen in earlier tales or in other traditional fairy tales?
  • How is love a common motivation in fairy tales? How does Li Chi’s love help her to volunteer and face the dragon?
  • What future do you imagine for Chi?
  • If you were going to choose a moral for this story, what would it be? Why?

Satin Skirts and Wooden Shoes

This story is based on Cinderella.

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • What role do fairies, or the fair folk, often play in fairy tales? How do characters’ reactions in both traditional and modern fairy tales affect the fairies?
  • Like Expectations, Satin Skirts and Wooden Shoes features a person who could be twins of the main character. Why do you think this is a fairy tale trope?
  • How does everyone live happily ever after?
  • How do you think the characters’ futures might play out?
  • If you were going to choose a moral for this story, what would it be? Why?

Now that we have read six of the stories in this anthology, let’s take a moment to talk about them and about fairy tales in general!

  • One of the central themes that threads all the stories together so far is the need to be accepted and understood for who you are. Why do you think this resonates so much?
  • What other common tropes do you see in each of the stories?
  • Fairy tales often have a fairly predictable plot structure. How does that come into play with the retellings?
  • Many of the characters in these stories are aro/ace. One of the most common endings to fairy tales is the male and female characters falling in love and getting married. How does having aro/ace characters change this? What kind of endings are we seeing instead of love + marriage? How are these endings just as happy as the standard fairy tale?
  • What are some other fairy tales you want to see retold? What kind of queer endings would you want to see?

Glass Mountains
Glass Mountains is based on The Black Bull of Norroway, a Scottish folk tale.

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • Magical elders are a common fairy tale trope and something we’ve seen a few times through this anthology. What do you think are the traditional reasons for this? What might magical elders mean to LGBT+ youths?
  • Fairy tales almost always feature morals, often about being kind to strangers. What do you think is the historical context of this? How do we see it play out in Glass Mountains?
  • Numbers play a role in this story, as well as repetition. What does this do for the narrative?
  • How does switching from past to present change the pacing of the story and answer questions before they’re asked?
  • How do the characters have a happily ever after?
  • What would you say is the moral of this story? Why?

Brenna
Brenna is a retelling of Ferdinand the Faithful and Ferdinand the Unfaithful, a German fairy tale.

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • Why do you think the color red is so common in fairy tales?
  • Once again, we are experiencing an elder guiding a younger person on their journey. Why would this be important for younger LGBT+ youth? Is it something we have seen in previous fairy tales in this collection?
  • Quests are another common theme in fairy tales; what quests are Brenna given to complete? How does one influence the other?
  • How does this story have a happily ever after?
  • What would you say is the moral of the story? Why?

The Last Lost Boy
The Last Lost Boy is a retelling of Peter Pan.

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • How does the author capture the spirit of Peter Pan through the character of the same name?
  • How does changing the setting to a modern setting change the story?
  • In what ways have neither Peter nor Will grown up?
  • How is this story different from some of the others in the anthology?
  • How do the characters have a happily ever after?
  • What would you say is the moral of this story? Why?

Now that we’ve read the short stories for this week, let’s talk about them as a whole!

  • Another common theme we’re seeing in some of the stories are elders who are either queer coded or at the very least are there to help guide the queer main characters. Why might this be? Why is this a fairy tale trope, but also why does this possibly mean so much to queer youth?
  • How do all the happily ever afters resonate? What similarities do they have? How are they different?
  • How do we see other common fairy tale tropes in these stories? How are they reworked into something new or utilized to help the characters get their happily ever after?
  • What are your thoughts on the stories we read this week? Do any stick out to you? What have been some of your favorites? What makes them your favorites?

Dark Matters

The second to last story in this retelling is a retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • How does this story combine science with fairy tale? What does that add to the overall narrative?
  • The main character goes on a journey to find something that feels “just right.” How could that be an allegory for coming out?
  • How does the author use some tongue-in-cheek humor and description to tie the fairy tale into gay culture?
  • How do the characters have a happily ever after?
  • What would you say is the moral of the story? Why?

The Suns of Terre

The last short story in this anthology is a retelling of Prince Darling.

  • What background do you have with the original fairy tale?
  • What elements of the original does the author change?
  • What elements are kept the same?
  • How is this story different from some of the others in this anthology? What makes it work as the final story?
  • The story deals a lot with what it means to be a good person. What do you think it means to be a good person? Do you think that something like the ring on the characters’ heads would actually work? What other ideas do you have?
  • What do you think of each of the characters’ actions? What were some good choices? Bad? How does that make the characters more human?
  • How do the characters learn to accept themselves and each other?
  • How is the theme of change and changing oneself essential to the LGBT+ community?
  • How do the characters end up with a happily ever after?
  • What would you say is the moral of the story? Why?

Now that we’ve finished the book, let’s talk about the last two stories and the collection as a whole!

  • What were some common themes and motifs that showed up in all or most of the stories? Why do you think those were so common? How are they important for fairy tales and also for the LGBT+ community?
  • Why are fairy tales a good medium to tell queer stories?
  • How do the last couple of stories differ from the rest in the collection? How do they still meet all the fairy tale criteria?
  • What were some of your favorite stories? Why?
  • What are some fairy tales you think could have a queer retelling? What makes some of those other stories perfect for this setup?
  • Why is it so important for queer people, and especially young queer people, to have stories with happily ever afters?
  • How are these stories a direct response to the “bury your gays” trope we see so often in media?
  • This anthology was released in 2016; how have things changed since then? How have they stayed the same?
  • Be sure to share some pictures or quotes you really enjoyed with the #GreatAceClub tag!

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