Barbara Babcock-Abrahams, A>A
Tolerated Margin of Mess=: The Trickster and His Tales Reconsidered,@
Journal of the Folklore Institute, vol. 11, no. 3, 1975: 147-186.
examines the Winnebago trickster cycle and offers her insight about trickster:
~No figure in literature, oral or written, baffles us quite as much as trickster.
He is positively identified with creative powers, often bringing such defining
features of culture as fire or basic food, and yet he constantly behaves in the
most antisocial manner we can imagine. Although we laugh at him for his troubles
and his foolishness and are embarrassed by his promiscuity, his creative
cleverness amazes us and keeps alive the possibility of transcending the social
restrictions we regularly encounter.
~In the majority of his encounters with men, he violates rules or boundaries,
thereby necessitating escape and forcing himself to again wander aimlessly.
~The sum total of these nineteen episodes of rejection, reversal, and
transformation, of ahistorical, abiological, and asocial acts is a developmental
process. This process of increasing biological, psychic, and social awareness to
the point where he returns to society and appears as an almost thoroughly
socialized individual and, further, to a realization of his role and identity as
culture-hero, is similar in structure to the Bildungsroman or
developmental novel. Dealing as it does with an individual at odds with society,
the seeming antistructure of picaresque narrative implies or assumes this
structure or a developmental pattern.
~Trickster is . . . a
who introduces death and with it all possibilities to the world. . . . Things
virtue of and in relation to what they "are not":
structure implies antistructure and cannot exist without it.
foolish one" -- the
negation offering possibility -- stands in immediate relation to the center in all its ambiguity . . . . And for
this we not only tolerate this "margin
we create and re-create him.