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Fairy tale elements

The short story “The Shining Mountain” by Alison Fell is written primarily in the style of a classical fairy tale. The first sentence reminds us of a typical fairy tale beginning: “Once there was a Scottish girl” (p. 18, l. 1). The action is set in the past, in an undetermined period, and the narration uses only past tense verbs: “The girl was called Pangma-La, and of course she was teased about it.” (p. 18, ll. 2-3)

The structure of the short story follows the typical rules of fairy tales: exposition, introduction of a problem or a challenge, the climax, and finally resolution: “And never again was Pangma-La afraid that her father would be disappointed in her.” (p. 22, ll. 7-8)

There are magical elements, such as the mountain goddess who disguises herself as an old Sherpa woman:

And there in front of him stood no hag, but the mountain goddess herself, tall and straight, with skin of darkest gleaming gold, and eyes yellow and far-seeing as a snow-leopard. She worse a cloak of swan’s feathers, and blue lightning-fire danced at her finger ends. (p. 21, ll. 19-22)

The use of the number three is a common feature of fairy tales.

For example, the Sherpa men warn the father about the dangers of disrespecting them and the mountain: “ ‘The mountain goddess will send winds to tear at you, ‘ they said, ‘and spindrift snow to sting your face, and avalanche to toss and tumble you’” (p. 19, ll. 35-37). These three weather elements are presented as challenges and even curses, and they do come true over the course of the journey up the mountain, and the father and daughter experience the predicted wind and spindrift snow and avalanche. Also, each day ...

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