Family Devotion in Fantasy

As I discussed Friday, more often than not, in fairy tales as well as their close kindred, fantasy novels, family affairs are troubled–or family members absent altogether. Yet some fantasy novels beautifully depict family relationships, and the positive functions of family.

In the Chronicles of Narnia, the relationship between the four siblings is overall one of intimacy and support. Though Edmund has his issues in the beginning, and they don’t always get along, when the trials come, they will do anything to help one another.

The Wingfeather Saga also reveals intense family devotion on a multi-generational level. Not only does the series include parent/child relationships, it explores the connections between grandparents/grandchildren, siblings, and other extended family members, and it shows them making sacrifices for one another, even when it’s painful.

ND Wilson’s Dandelion Fire reveals the parental love that always hopes for restoration, even after all hope seems lost, as well as the more complex relationships with extended family.

These are just a handful of the many books that depict the more positive functions of family, yet none of them depict falsely sweet relationships. They show the reality of family life, and the disagreements and resentments–and even betrayals–that can sometimes occur, but they happen against a backdrop of love.

Fairy tales also are not altogether lacking in positive family relations (though such stories are more rare). In Snow White, Rose Red, the sisters and their mother share a close bond that lasts even after the marriage of the two girls, and in The Wild Swan, a true, sacrificial devotion occurs between the siblings.

So, while it may be more common to find fractured or failing families in fairy tale and fantasy stories, strong families do have a representation…and they make for touching stories of familial care and devotion even through intense adversary.

Are there any other stories you have enjoyed that depict positive family dynamics?

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6 Responses to Family Devotion in Fantasy

  1. C.J. says:

    Ah, it’s so good to see this list of books. It’s a good reminder that there are some books that depict healthy families. And, all of these books that I have read, I have loved. 🙂

  2. Mary says:

    I’ve loved The Boxcar Children since I was little bitty. And then of course there is the Sugarcreek Gang. The Pevensies are definitely one of my favorite fictional families, though. Their interactions and relationships were always so real; they fought and argued like real siblings, but like you said, when it came down to the wire they stuck together.

  3. Sarah Sawyer says:

    CJ, me too!

    Mary, I used to devour the Boxcar Children books, and I loved the family element. 🙂

    When it comes to writing about families, I think it’s important not to make them falsely perfect, but to portray them with realism (as Lewis did so well with the Pevensies). Even in the healthiest families, there are times of conflict…which is a great source of increased story tension!

  4. Bob Avey says:

    I love the look and feel of your blog. Please check my blog out. It’s bobavey.blogspot.com.

  5. Mirriam says:

    I LOVE the Wingfeather Saga; and who doesn’t love Narnia?
    Snow White and Rose Red is great – I adore “Snow White and Rose Red” and the other rewritten fairy tales by Regina Doman, too. (Though I’m a non-denominational Christian and not Catholic, they’re still awesome).

  6. Sarah Sawyer says:

    Bob, thanks for stopping by! I always enjoy meeting other writers, and based on your blog, it sounds like we have shared interest in matters of faith and fantasy. 🙂

    Mirriam, Regina Doman’s books sounds interesting. I’m a big fan of retold fairy tales, but so many of them tend to be dark. I’m always excited to get a good recommendation!

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