Cinder vs. Cinderella (Margaret G. and Zoe D.)

While Disney was not the first one to tell the story of Cinderella this version of events has, arguably, become a classic. For the duration of this paper it is the Disney version of the tale that we will be discussing in reference to Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. When comparing the two works it is evident that Cinder and Cinderella are similar in many aspects of the fairy tale, however their respective main characters divert into different directions of the typical girl. The stereotypical girl (namely Cinderella) is not unlike the Anita Harris’ “can-do girl” in terms of appearance: “beautiful and fit” (Projanksy), she is abled, Caucasian and – in fairy tales – she is hold an impassive role, letting life happen around her and waiting for “prince charming” to save the day. Cinder, on the other hand, breaks these preset “norms” by her ethnicity – Asian, and by simply being a cyborg, in appearance she is the at-risk girl – she is differently abled AND a second rate citizen because of the mechanical aspects of her body.

In the stories Cinder/Cinderella are forced to work for their step mothers, without pay, in an almost slave-like fashion. However, in Disney’s Cinderella the young girl is forced to wait on the family hand and foot, taking over all “womanly duties” – i.e. cooking, and cleaning. Cinderella is impassive not showing a like or dislike for the work, simply doing as she is told. Cinder is imprisoned by her step mother in an entirely different way, in that she is free to do her job, outside of the home, completely unsupervised. She runs “the only full-service mechanic at New Beijing’s weekly market.” (location 72) with total control over the business, with the exception of where the money is going (directly to the step mother). In present day mechanics are typically middle-aged males – which Cinder definitely is not; she is a young female. The role of the mechanic is important in her society, as the use androids is so normalized. it is bizarre that she obtains the role – as seen in Prince Kai’s reaction when he sees her for the first time: “’you’re Linh Cinder?’” (location 122). Meyer uses the italics here to emphasize Prince Kai’s surprise, proving that she, a young girl, is not normally the best recommended mechanic around.

Women and girls are typically central to a family dynamic, Cinder and Cinderella are as well, however, they are central only through what they provide in their “jobs.” Both the girls are estranged from their step family and the rest of the world. Adri, Cinder’s step mother, is aware that Cinder has a friendship with Iko and familiar connections to Peony – had Cinderella’s stepmother been aware of the friendship with the mice they surely would have been “stamped out.” In this way Cinder is breaking another norm, she is not simply just the victim as Cinderella is. Cinder cares deeply for Iko and Peony respectively, she reassures Iko when they discover that Sacha (the baker) has the plague, telling her they are safe, and she is horrified and worried for Peony upon discovering the tell tale bruise of the plague. Ann M. Childs argues that friendships must be “scarified in order to reconcile dystopia’s hopelessness with the hopefulness of young adult fiction” (Childs), however Meyer moves against this through her use of Cinder. Cinder does not sacrifice her friendships but is rather sent away by her stepmother. She loses Peony (to the plague) and Iko (through her step mothers malice), but she does not sacrifice them to move forward in rebellious fashion.

While at first glance Cinder and Cinderella seem to fall into the “at-risk” and “can-do” categories, respectively, it is through their active thinking – or lack thereof – they move from one end of the spectrum to the other. Cinder moves from at-risk to can-do when she becomes “resilient and empowered” (Harris) discovering that she is immune to plague and has the opportunity to help find a cure and save her step sister, Peony. This is also evident through Cinders actions/thoughts about residing with her step family – she is determined to leave them, inquiring a “getaway” car from junkyard. Cinderella remains impassive in her story, waiting dutifully for the prince to save the day. Cinderella begins her tale as a can do girl, not only in looks as previously discussed, but in her life and familiar situation – it is implied in the movie that when her father was alive she lived a good and comfortable life. After the death of her father she becomes a flat character in her own story – when told to do something her reaction is to just do it, she doesn’t consider ever leaving, or attempting to. It is not until the fairy god mother appears and – quite literally – magics everything into place that Cinderella begins to break the rules; she is only comfortable doing this when the fear has been removed from her. (Though she still returns to the step mothers home and her regular life immediately there after.) Cinderella is at risk because she makes no moves to improve things for herself, where Cinder, now the can do girl, does. Active or impassive thoughts and actions create a divide between the types of girls Cinder and Cinderella are.

The main characters in most (Disney) fairy tales appear to be the typical girl in looks, however in their respective narratives they are impassive and flat characters, they do not have active roles. Meyer takes the familiar tale of Cinderella and manipulates it to show that these main characters don’t have to be bystanders in their own stories. She does this through subtleties such as Cinder’s job and relationships, and through larger aspects like her active thoughts and actions.

 

Works Cited

Childs, Ann M. M., “The Incompatibility of Female Friendships and Rebellion.” Female Rebellion in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction, edited by Sarah K. Day, Miranda A. Green-Barteet, Amy  L. Montz, Ashgate, 2014.

Harris, Anita. “The ‘Can-Do’ Girl verus The ‘At-Risk’ Girl.” Future Girl.

Meyers, Marissa. Cinder. Kindle ed., A Feiwel and Friends book, 2012.

Projansky, Sarah. “Introduction.” Finding Alternative Girlhoods. New York University Press, 2014.

Discussion Questions:

In what other ways does Meyer use Cinder and other characters to break away from the stereotypical Cinderella story? Does she conform to any of the stereotypes?

We briefly mention that Cinder is Asian not Caucasian like most fairy tale characters, however it appears that this fact is not as important as the fact that she is a cyborg. Would the novel/plot line have been as effective had it taken place in North America?

17 thoughts on “Cinder vs. Cinderella (Margaret G. and Zoe D.)

  1. I agree that although Cinder’s story draws on Cinderella’s fairy tale she is completely the opposite. Cinder breaks many of the gender norms that Cinderella so willingly complies to. Rather that waiting for a fairy godmother Cinder actively prepares her own ride and way to the ball and furthermore does not care nearly as much about the beauty of her outfit. When Cinder gets to the ball she is covered in rain and grease but she still walks in because she is there for one sole purpose – to warn Kai of Queen Levana’s real intentions. Whereas in the traditional tale Cinderella waits around crying until the fairy godmother arranges for her to get to the ball and she still is an obedient woman as she follows an authority figure, and ensures she makes it back by midnight as the fairy godmother demanded, before her stepmother could realise she broke the rules. In this sense I agree Cinderella is passive rather than active in making any decisions for herself. While Cinder goes for a purpose and actively chooses to break the rules on her own, Cinderella only goes because an authority figure told her she can go and gave her the opportunity – and she just wanted to go for the sake of going to a ball.
    Furthermore, in Meyer’s version Cinder has a positive relationship with one of her step sisters in contrast to Cinderella whose step-siblings and stepmother were all wretched. Also in this reinterpretation Kai is more actively attempting to pursue Cinder and he shows more interest in her than she does in him. Rather than the stereotypical scenario in which the girl falls madly in love with a guy from a single look, Cinder is realistic and rather than encourage his desire to pursue her she attempts lead him away. This is a drastically different than the fairy tale in which Cinderella unrealistically vies for the attention and love of the prince and is pleased when he shows her any attention at all.
    I believe with every character present in this novel Meyer attempts to divert the narrative and does this by offering modifications to every character in some sense. Whether it be drastic as Cinder and Kai or as subtle as giving some context unto Adri’s contempt towards Cinder (although it is still misplaced and unjust). I believe Meyer is attempting to debunk the traditional story and the conceding female stereotypes it offers in the way she presents the female role as the strong active protagonist attempting to save the prince, rather than a weak passive girl waiting for the prince to save her.

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  2. First, working without pay and having abusive parent does not equal “slave-like fashion,” that’s a problematic assertion which simplifies the system of slavery. But that’s a discussion for another time. Also according to Meyer Cinder’s “Race: Lunar (mixed ethnicity—Asian/Caucasian? tan skin)”, since Cinder has never implied that she is treated differently because of her biracial status, or even for having tan skin it tells me that Meyer might not have done her research on racial tension in China. China is a country where having milky white skin is preferred over tan and bronze skin. Although colourism might not be as significant in North American, it does have a social importance in China and effects the lives of some tanned skin Chinese. This is also true of biracial children living in China, these kids are often made fun of for being different, yet this is not shown in Cinder. Because of this, I also believe that even if Cinder had been set in North America, Meyer would have opted to portray society as post-racial, when regarding skin colour. Instead, she would have developed Cyborg, Lunars, and Androids as a race and mirrored there struggles with the actual struggles of minorities in reality. Which is problematic because she would be using the story of marginalised people without acknowledging the social significance of their skin colour. I sincerely believe it’s a copout whenever fantasy and science fiction authors decide to take this root because often times, these supposedly new race are still Caucasian, or in Cinder case everyone is Asian. I imagine that if the series was set in America there should be a difference in experience between the struggles of a cyborg who is also a person of colour, the same way that queer people of colour have different experiences than queer people who are white in reality. I say this because the amount of labels a person carries will change how they are perceived and treated. However, I highly doubt that Meyer would have engaged with this idea. By making Cinder biracial and tan in China but not making it a significant part of her life which contradicts the life of some biracial people and some tanned skinned Chinese people in China today, convinces me that Meyer would still not have treated Cinder’s race any differently even in North America.

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    1. You raised some very interesting points with your comment that have broadened my understanding of the cultural implications of Marissa Meyer’s, Cinder. I agree with your point that skin colour did not seem to be a visible major factor in Cinder’s social standing in New Beijing. I also agree we can assume that if the setting of the novel changed to North America Meyer would still treat Cinder’s racial identity the same, as Cinder was not confronted by issues of her race that realistically reflect a real-world situation. However, in response to your comment, I’m going make a defence for authors who tell the stories of marginalized groups through the use of allegory. Allegory is the symbolic messaging that can be found in the novel. Your point that using the story of minorities without acknowledging them as such is a ‘copout’ by the author is a point that is continuously debated by scholars and authors. While I can see how erasing minorities in texts but using their stories to form allegorical messages can be viewed as problematic, I believe there are benefits to doing this. A case can be made that the cyborg and human relationship in Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, is allegorical of the relationship, both presently and historically, between white supremacy and racial minorities. In Cinder, the ‘The Draft’, forces cyborgs to be injected with Letumosis in an attempt to see if an antidote works, but the scientists are aware that they are not even close to finding an antidote to cure it and have only succeeded in prolonging the cyborgs deaths. This can be taken up as an allegorical symbol for many historical injustices, such as the Guatemalan Syphilis Study that injected Guatemalan prisoners with Syphilis to study its effects. The novel Waiting for Barbarians, by Coetzee, functions as an allegory for South African apartheid regime. However, the allegory of the novel specifically and fastidiously avoids dealing with the messy politics of South African racism. Many scholars condemn Coetzee’s use of allegory, believing it to be used to avoid potential repercussions from the South African government for his writing. While many believe that the use of allegory avoids discussing what needs to be discussed, it can also be viewed as a literary form of power. Allegory itself can be viewed as a way for the reader to ‘other’ themselves from their own systems of power, to talk about systematic oppressions on a general level that becomes more real when applied to real-life oppressions. Leaving it up to the readers to form the connections between ethical messages in the writing and real-life situations is not inherently a bad thing as it can open the readers to expanding their minds and considering how oppression is systemic and how it has operated, both now and through history. I feel that Marissa Meyer’s depiction of cyborg people functions on an allegorical level, and that this use of allegory is not a ‘copout’ way of avoiding discussing marginalized groups stories while simultaneously making all the characters the same race or post-racial. Instead allegory functions in a creative way to challenge the readers to apply the cyborgs marginalization to real-life marginalized groups and in doing so readers could start questioning how people become marginalized through oppressive systems, and to what ends this oppression is used.

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  3. The topic of stereotypes was one that we thoroughly discussed in the lecture, with reference to the ways in which Meyer reinforces the traditional ideas of the original Cinderella story and also how her characters deviate from what is expected of them. Queen Levana was an addition that drastically broke away from the traditional story of Cinderella. In the original story Cinderella’s stepmother stood as the only villain and by incorporating the Queen, I believe that Meyer added another dimension to the story. This allows readers to see Cinder stand up/defy not one, but two people threatening her. Whereas in the original story, Cinderella failed to stand up to anyone, let alone her oppressive stepmother. Another deviation that Meyer takes from the stereotypical Cinderella story is Cinder’s relationship with one of her stepsisters. Peony still has the characteristics of the original stepsisters: she is boy-crazy, obsessed with the Prince, concerned with her appearance, flaunts her dress around, etc. She is your stereotypical fourteen year old girl. However, she presents no ill will towards her older stepsister. In fact in could be argued that she even adores Cinder; she looks up to her. Peony is also very aware that the way Adri treats Cinder is cruel and unfair, indicating that she is not as oblivious as the sisters in the original story. By writing Peony this way, Meyer gives one of the stepsisters an actual well-thought out personality/characterization.

    In reference to your second question, I do not believe that Cinder is Asian. It was mentioned a number of times throughout the novel that Cinder is from Europe, indicating that more likely than not she is white. This is problematic because, as discussed in class, the novel takes place in an Asian country. By making the protagonist white/European, Meyer takes away the ideal opportunity of portraying a non-white heroine. Regardless, her race (as you guys mentioned) is of less importance than the fact that she is a cyborg, to the point where it was rarely referenced at all. I think this may be because cyborgs are classified as a race themselves. So in a way Cinder’s race still play a large part in how she fits into her society and how her society perceives her. However, it’s not the colour of her skin but her prosthetic limbs that racialize her.

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  4. In response to your discussion question “In what other ways does Meyer use Cinder and other characters to break away from the stereotypical Cinderella story? Does she conform to any of the stereotypes?” I believe that Kai’s character conforms to the Prince Charming stereotypes of being handsome, a prince, and in need of a bride as he is to claim the throne. However, by introducing the characters earlier on, I felt as though Meyer was channeling the ideas of Sleeping Beauty’s forbidden romance, as Prince Philip flirts with Aurora and gets no response, and the same goes for Kai and Cinder (example: pg290-91 “Nope, nothing. Maybe she’s been ignoring my comms on purpose.” “Maybe she’s been busy” “Oh, yes, you look completely overwhelmed.” Cinder rolled her eyes) I felt as though Meyer did this to break away from the stereotypical Disney romance where a female and male know each other for about 10 minutes before getting married. Even so, this relationship challenged further the Disney stereotype by having Cinder go to the ball not for a husband – but to save the planet. Otherwise, I believe we can assume from Cinder’s determination in the text that she would’ve feld to Europe that night had it not been for the DComm call.
    Also in repsonse to the question, I think that Iko is a prime example of Meyer breaking away from the Disney stereotype because although she helps save the day in the end, (by keeping Peony’s dress), Iko is more than that. Iko actually maintains a relationship with Cinder, and so it is not the Disney moral of work hard and someone will reward you, but Iko simply kept the dress because she thought it was pretty. Iko is also different in that she enjoys the stereotypical girly things that Pearl and Peony like (like Adri’s pearls, the silk from Peony’s dress, Prine Kai) whereas the fairy godmother bestowed a dress and details onto Cinderella because that’s what she wanted. Iko is friend, the Fairy Godmother was a saviour (of sort).

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    1. This comment is interesting as I too have been questioning the ways that Prince Kai deviates from the ‘Prince Charming’ stereotype. I agree that he fits into the stereotype in a very generic sense of being a handsome prince looking for a bride, but he also breaks from the very static character that the prince in the original Disney Cinderella book is depicted as. Kai’s courtship of Cinder breaks away from the Disney standard of marriage at first sight, as you have suggested. But beyond this I think Kai himself breaks away from the stereotypical Disney ‘Prince Charming’ character since Meyer includes the politics of royal diplomacy in Cinder, in a way that develops Kai’s complicated character. Kai is forced to make moralistic choices, weighing what is best for the nation against his own interests. The depiction of the diplomacy between Kai and Queen Levana as a psychological power struggle where she tests him to reveal his ethical values shows that Kia is a complex character. He is both ruler and uncertain if her can rule. He has feelings for Cinder but must consider what is best for the nation as well. His character is continuously put in a position where no matter what decision he makes there will be repercussions, having to weigh what is his best course of action. Prince Kai may fit the ‘Prince Charming’ character in its most generic sense, but when the character is further explored he has had to make many challenging decisions that mark his moral sense of what is right and wrong as well as outlined his belief that he should place the people he rules above all else.

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    2. I found this comment interesting as well, but more for the Iko part of it. In this thread so far I haven’t seen anyone emphasize Iko’s role, but I really do think she’s an important character. In this novel, Iko represents the sidekick character. In typical Disney stories, these sidekick characters are typically animals (fish, mice, lizards etc.). Iko is also non-human, but she is much more similar to Cinder than any of the Disney sidekicks are to their protagonists. In Cinderella, she has Jacque and Gus-Gus (among others) as sidekicks, and their primary role is to get her from point A to point B (for example making her dress, transforming into horses etc.). The did not really add any value to the story other than as friendly faces, but they developed the plot and that was essentially their purpose. Cinder is different though because she looks at Iko as an equal, regardless of the fact that she is an Android. This is probably because Cinder is a more multi-dimensional character than Cinderella. She genuinely cares about Iko, and plans to take her away from Adri as soon as she gets the chance. Likewise, Iko genuinely cares about Cinder. While her development of the plot was not usually intentional (for example she didn’t keep Peony’s dress for Cinder, she kept it for herself because it was pretty), her character is important because without Peony, Iko is the only real family Cinder has. I liked Meyer’s breakaway from the stereotypes in this case, because she emphasizes the importance of friendship and support systems, especially in such a negative household/universe.

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  5. Cinder is a modern take on the classic Cinderella and has many similarities to the original story. However, the author Marissa Meyer has done a good job of taking the original framework of the story and building on it, to make it much different than the classic Disney version. As you would expect, Cinder has all the basic elements of the Cinderella fairy-tale. Both characters have parents that died at a young age and a step mother who torments the protagonist. In Cinder, Linh Adri mirrors the evil stepmother and Linh Pearl and Linh Peony represent the evil stepsisters from the original story. Similar events take place in both stories, particularly the scene where Cinderella goes to the ball. In both stories, this scene is the point in the story where the protagonist’s dream essentially comes true and she no longer feels like a slave to her stepmother. However, in this scene Cinder demonstrates how much more determined and heroic she is than the original Cinderella. Unlike Cinderella, Cinder does not attend the ball with the hopes of finding her Prince Charming. Instead, she goes to the ball with the intentions to prevent further disaster. Cinder is able to prevail due to her independence, which goes against the stenotype that a princess must be saved by her prince in order live happily ever after. Cinder is aware of her social stigma as a cyborg. For this reason, she tries to avoid getting into any sort of relationship despite the fact that this is the opposite mentality of the original Cinderella that believes “one day my prince will come” Unlike Cinderella, rather than be a passive individual and wait for her “fairy godmother” to save her, Cinder fixes the old car that she finds and veers from the path that her household tries to force upon her. Cinder builds her own destiny despite having all odds against her!

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  6. I think you make an interesting argument when you talk about both Cinderella and Cinder fluctuating from either side of the “can do” “at risk” spectrum. As you say, Cinder as a cyborg represents a character who is differently abled, and discriminated against because of this identity. In this sense she meets characteristic trademarks of what Harris deems the “at risk” girl. Despite this, she embodies the “can do” girl far more than Disney’s attractive and able bodied Cinderella. She holds a can do attitude, for lack of better words, and is far more proactive and agentic in her actions. This is true even before she learns that she is immune, for example, when she secretly purchases a new foot for herself despite it being prohibited by Adri. In this sense, I think you’re right in suggesting that she is a “can do” girl in attitude and behaviour despite sharing circumstances with that of the archetypal “at risk” girl.

    Cinderella in my view is a more difficult character to break down in this way. You’re right that she meet the “can do” representation in a physical level, and her demure attitude also helps achieve this romanticized femininity. However, Cinderella is definitely a victim of her circumstances, which likens her to “at risk” girls who are not born into the same opportunity as many of the “can do” category. To be fair, she does little to become free of these circumstances, but on the other hand she does very little in general. As you pointed out, for a main character, she does very little, and almost all of her actions are instigated by others. In some ways, with so little action taking place, she is not a girl at all, not “at risk” or “can do”. I suppose as a result she meets the stereotype of a girl as an object controlled by others.

    I think that this analysis relates well to Projansky’s article, Finding Alternative Girlhoods, and the concept of decentering girls. Be featuring a character that is developed enough to fit both the “at risk” and “can do” categories, or in the same way, neither category, Meyer is decentering girlhood. She is examining a girl who does not meet an archetypal girlhood. Though, to answer your discussion question, I do think that certain stereotypes remain present. For instance, Cinder literally feels weak at the sight, let alone the touch, of Prince Kai. She mentions not wanting to be another hysterical girl, obsessed with his looks, like Peony, but other than this assertion is no different than these girls when she encounters him.

    To answer your second question, I first have to say that I was under the impression that Cinder was European, since that is where she was adopted from. Not that there are only caucasian people living in Europe, but I thought that this indicated that she was a white person living in China. However, if she is Asian, like you are stating, I think that if the story were to have taken place in North America, the decentering of girlhood would have been pushed even farther. In that setting, Cinder would be differently abled, a perceived second class citizen, and a racial minority, which certainly does not represent the stereotypical heroine.

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  7. In response to your first discussion question:

    Yes, Cinder does subvert contemporary girlhood stereotypes – she is cynical, practical, and active. However, she has been scientifically modified. Hence, one reading of Meyer’s narrative is that these positive, masculine-labeled traits may only be acquired through invasive modification of the female body. This implies that girls are unable to organically develop these qualities, presenting Cinder as a docile body that may be “subjected, used, transformed, and improved” (Foucault, “Docile Bodies”). By dissociating power from Cinder’s body, her agency is limited – reinscribing gendered norms by devaluing the active nature of her character.

    Therefore, an alternative reading of Cinder that attributes Cinder’s active qualities to her cyborg hybridity only serves to reaffirm traditional feminine stereotypes embodied by Cinderella.

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  8. In response to your blog on “Cinder vs. Cinderella,” I find your views convincing regarding the similarities and differences of the main characters of females used in the two works. I agree that Cinderella is presented as a more sophisticated character to Anita Harris of Cinder. I also concur with your views on the similarities of these two characters in their respective narratives. However, apart from having similar characteristics of females in the two stories, it is evident that the two works present a similar setting. Cinderella is a story set in France, and the story of Cinder pays high respect to the Chinese society values, but both stories demonstrated comparable social norms and expectations. In addition, they both lived in an oppressive family and was mistreated by their evil stepmother.

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  9. Good post! I liked how you contrasted the Disney with the film because I also felt like the novel was very different than the film. To answer the first question, Cinder is not nearly as passive as Cinderella in the Disney film. Cinder rebels against Adri, such as spending the money earned from her job, whenever she feels Adri won’t find out. Cinder’s step-sister Peony is kind and loving towards Cinder and is essentially the only family member Cinder can rely on. Prince Kai breaks away for the Prince Charming stereotype as he shows a general interest in Cinder from the beginning of the novel. Prince Kai made an effort to get to know Cinder on a more personal level, as deeply as Cinder allowed him to at least. Unlike Prince Charming, Kai did not fall in love with Cinder based on her appearance and the insignificant encounter the two had while dancing at the ball. Cinder does conform to the stereotype of a damsel in distress, as she looks to Kai for help at the end of the novel when Cinder is grabbed by one of Queen Levana’s guards. To answer the second question, I do not believe the author every clearly stated whether or not Cinder was Asian or Caucasian. Although it takes place in New Beijing, readers are lead to believe that Cinder is most likely not Asian, as she is Lunar. I can’t be sure whether the novel would have been as effective if it took place in North America. A monarchy rules the Commonwealth, and reinforces the fairy tale narrative of the novel. Meyer did not state if there was a monetary power ruling within North America. I believe the setting of New Beijing, based on the limited information provided, was effective to the plot line of the novel.

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  10. In response to your first discussion question, Meyer uses Cinder to break away from the stereotypical Cinderella story in a number of ways, one of which being that she is freed from her home able to work unsupervised as a mechanic instead of inside the stepmother’s home performing chores. This is already a large leap from the oppressed Cinderella that is under strict supervision in the home. However, right from the beginning of the novel Cinder, Linh Cinder just unscrewed her mechanical foot, since her human features have outgrown the cyborg foot. She is forced to wait around for new parts from her friend Iko. This plot line is evidently similar to Cinderella in the sense that the basis of the story revolves around Cinderella waiting around to have her shoe returned. Cinder is even more disadvantaged because she is disabled without her foot and isn’t mobile at all without it. Cinder’s work as a mechanic is highly respected in the town and we know this because Prince Kai has even visited her booth to have his own personal android repaired. Though Cinder may not be respected, her work certainly is. Cinderella is responsible for chores within the confines of her home and that is it, so her recognition never extends to her society – in fact, she is often criticized by her stepmother for not performing her tasks as adequately. In this sense, Cinder breaks free from the stereotypical mold that Cinderella is trapped in.

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  11. Hi Margaret and Zoe,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! You made a great comparison of Cinder and Disney’s Cinderella. To answer your first question, one other way that Meyer uses Cinder to break away from Disney’s version of the Cinderella story is through the ending of the novel. In the conclusion for Cinder, Kai arrests Cinder in the New Beijing Prison. Cinder does not get to experience a happily ever after in a castle with her prince, the way Disney’s Cinderella gets to. Granted, there are more novels to come in Marissa Meyer’s series, but this is how Cinder ends. I believe that by not linking happily ever after to a man and his fortunes, Meyer actually allows Cinder to be empowered in her jail cell. It is in there that Cinder learns the truth about herself from Dr. Erland. This allows Cinder to embark on her journey towards owning her true identity, and thus experiencing her personal happily ever after.

    In response to your second question, I was under the impression Cinder was European, which is the non dominant race in New Beijing. I think this fact is another positive way Meyer challenges the stereotypes surrounding girlhood and further breaks away from Disney’s version of the Cinderella story. So if the setting of this story were to change to North America, I’m not sure if that would mean that Cinder would fit the conventions of girlhood more (being a white, heterosexual female) or if the author would change it so the dominant race to be white and Cinder would become the Asian minority.

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  12. Margaret G and Zoe D,

    I am glad someone did a response on the similarities and differences between Cinderella and Cinder, as Cinderella was an obvious influence on the novel Cinder. I feel like a lot of the characters break the mold of the stereotypical Cinderella story other than Cinder herself. I have seen other classmates commenting on wither or not Kai conforms to the stereotypical “prince charming”. I would like to take the stance that he does not. Despite the fact that he is obviously good looking, I don’t feel that he has any other stereotypical traits. I don’t find Kai to be consumed with his own power or beauty. There are many passages in the book where he talks about not being ready for all this power and responsibility, he seems humbled by his royal title and makes decisions that don’t benefit himself but instead the rest of the world. He also doesn’t seem to care about his own looks or the appearances of others. He fell for Cinder who we know isn’t an exceptionally good looking girl, and he was discussed by queen Levana’s beautiful appearance. We have to remember that Cinderella even though she was not living a privileged life was still portrayed as beautiful. Her beauty is clearly what led prince charming to her. Kai does not fit that stereotype but instead likes Cinder for her other good qualities. Kai also doesn’t throw a fit when Cinder keeps turning him down, although he is a bit upset, which also leads me to believe he is not totally consumed with himself. Kai is also not looking to get married right away, like prince charming in Cinderella. He is aware of what his society expects from him but still makes choices and decisions that go against what the static prince charming would do. Kai doesn’t do “anything” for love like prince charming would, instead he sacrifices his love for Cinder to try and save the planet. These qualities give Kai layers, and make him a well developed character, not just a young, handsome, rich, privileged prince who wants to marry a beautiful girl. I think Meyer did a good job at breaking Kai out of the typical prince charming.

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  13. Hi!
    In response to your second discussion question, I’m not exactly sure how social views towards racialized others would be in North America rather than New Beijing, especially in a dystopian society. As Cinder is Lunar, cyborg as well as part white and part Asian, she is quite obviously visually different than her surrounding community. In this society, Lunars and cyborgs are both seen as racialized others in addition to ‘traditional’ race. Cinder never mentioned racial tension due to her biracial ethnicity, though her status as Lunar and Cyborg has affected her worldly experience. Cinder is described as having tan skin, and from my loose research I have learned that colorism is apparent in China, but Meyer had never specified other characters’ skin tones. Due to the lack of attention to ‘traditional’ race, I’d assume that if the novel was set in North America, dystopian races would the cause of social divide just as they are in New Beijing. It is incredibly problematic that race is seldom mentioned in science fiction novels as it often ‘colour blinds’ the reader into assuming that a society is ‘post racial.’ The term ‘colour blind,’ is to mean that one does not ‘see’ race. This is harmful as, by being socialized in a racially divided society, one will have racial biases. In addition, disregarding race doesn’t lead to equality but to ignorance, as treating all people equally should not include stripping people of their differences. Further, ‘post racial’ may imply that as by being in a dystopian society with various futuristic social divides, race may be a lesser rift within people. An author imaging a dystopian society beyond race is also incredibly harmful as it begs the question as to why that would even be a characteristic of a new future world at all. ‘Post racial’ may seem to be post racism, but it also strips people of their culture heritage and defining personal identity, which is racist. It is interesting as to why so many novels fail to discuss race, as if the solution to contemporary racism is to strip people of their race altogether.

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  14. I missed seeing this post when it was posted earlier on! I wanted to start off by saying that I love this analysis! I always enjoy reading pieces that compare and contrast contemporary remakes to the original fairytales. I find that analyzing the remakes gives insight into the type of mindset that prevalent of the society during the time that it was written.
    As you pointed out in your post, Cinder challenges many stereotypes that exist in Cinderella. One of the main ones in my opinion was how she doesn’t try to be overly feminine. We see evidence of this when she is going to the ball. She shows up in a creased dress, grease stained gloves, and a loose foot. Comparatively, in Cinderella, her appearance at the ball was central to how she was perceived by the citizens in attendance. They were shocked by the beautiful stranger that had shown up. While the citizens are shocked by Cinder’s appearance as well, it is more in disgust than appreciatively.
    To address your first discussion question, even though Cinder subverts many stereotypes, she yet adheres to them. For example, even though Cinder doesn’t seem to be too concerned by her appearance in a fashion sense, she is still very aware of the lack of femininity in her body itself. She is very self aware of how she is not curvaceous like her sisters and is more angular. She also is self-conscious about the hardness of her cyborg parts. We see evidence of this when she consciously tries to make her hand seem softer and more human when Kai holds it.
    In my opinion, Cinder reflects the current state of society and its mindset of femininity quite well. Even though many stereotypes of femininity are broken or challenged daily, there are yet many that are still adhered to. My own experience can speak of that. I am asked to challenge the norm of what it means to be feminine and to own up to my own style even if it is a bit “boyish”, but at the same time I am told to hold myself like a lady or sit like one. This confusion of whether to adhere to or challenge stereotypes is greatly reflected in Cinder’s own struggles in the book.

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