Children and their magical mentor friends

In doing my 60s research for a history paper, I crossed paths with Peter, Paul and Mary and their song, Puff the Magic Dragon, [see lyrics] along with a link to the cartoon adaptation. I watched this ardently as a six year old!

Watch it at Google Video. (Duration 23:41)

“If they have Puff,” I thought, “maybe they’d have The Snowman too…” And they do.

Watch it at Google Video. (Duration 26:09)

Now, in reference to the title of this post, I will proceed to spoil the ending to the stories by talking about how they seem to relate to each other.

Aged 5 or 6 at the time I first watched these movies, I was an impressionable and sensitive young’un. These cartoons, produced 1978 and 1982 respectively, had the deepest impression on me, and I never really understood why until now.

In both Puff and Snowman, little boys discover a dear friend in the titular character, who appears ‘magically’ (in the sense that they should technically not exist). Puff and the Snowman respectively help the two boys discover more about their identity, self-expression, adventure, and the world; they are life mentors. Then, they disappear.

Whether with a formal goodbye, or silently in the night – the boys lose their dear friend of a moment. At the end of these stories there is a deep sense of loss, a slight sense of betrayal, and no sense of excitement for the future. Perhaps the Puff animation adds a little cheer to the original song, but Snowman is a tragic love story. It is a love story in the same way that The Princess Bride is a love story – between the grandfather and his grandson.

Passion we know is fleeting. Friendship we truly depend on. The love is not based on attraction, but trust. That is why these two are more tragic love stories than any romance is capable of being.


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