The Fairies

"Peter, you're after growing some fast. I mind the times I used to take you berry picking with me, up over the hill," she said, "How frightened you'd be of the fairies."..."I used to fill your pockets with bread, turn your socks inside out, everything I could think of to ease your mind. Finally, your father got a five cent piece, put a hole through the centre and we strung that around your neck, so the silver would keep the fairies off. Even then, you'd never stray from me."
                                                                                                                            Catch Me Once, Catch Me Twice

What are fairies doing in a book about World War II?

This seems strange to some people who read Catch Me Once, Catch Me Twice , especially those who have never been to Newfoundland. In fact, fairies beliefs are an important part of Newfoundland folklore, although people may hesitate to speak freely about this until they are sure they won't be laughed at. Some places have such an active fairy tradition that everyone knows the stories, but in most places you have to ask around a bit before you hear them. If you live anywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador, try asking if anyone has ever heard any stories about the fairies in your community. What you find out may surprise you.

I knew fairy beliefs were still alive in Newfoundland because my friend Barbara Rieti was working on this topic while I was doing my Ph.D in folklore at Memorial University. She collected stories about the fairies from many people in the 1980s.

What is the significance of the fairy in Catch Me Once, Catch Me Twice ?

The fairy plays a very important role in the story. The scene with the fairy has some parallel scenes, places where similar things happen over again. These are the scenes where Ev sees the American soldier Gerry at the back door of her house and again in Bannerman Park, after she has encountered the fairy in the spring house.
If you compare these scenes carefully, you will notice that Ev's encounter with the fairy makes her do something when she meets Gerry, even though she can't really remember meeting the fairy at the time. What does Ev do in the band shell that she might not have done if she had never met the fairy? What happens as a result? What do you think might have happened to Ev if she hadn't reacted that way?

If you can figure out the answers to those questions, you will understand why the fairy is important in the story.

Remember what Uncle Ches says at the end of the book when Peter and Ev ask him why she saw the fairy:
"...It seems to me no harm was meant. Perhaps it didn't happen so's you could gain your heart's desire at all. Perhaps it was meant to save you from some danger we mightn't know of, might never know of. There's no way of telling, but I knows this much, it wasn't for no reason at all. If I've learned anything about this sort of thing, I've learned that it's never for nothing."

To Find Out More

You can read Barbara Rieti's book Strange Terrain: The Fairy World in Newfoundland, published by ISER Books in 1991, ISBN 0-919666-71-X

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