Should we burn babar?

Should We Burn Babar? The stories of Babar were written during a time when the French were colonizing Africa. While there might not have been any direct links to racism, there were definitely some symbolic representations of it, after all we are talking about Africa and Europe in the 1930s. As a child reading Babar books I did not notice the racist contents in the stories. However, as an adult reading the books I did notice some oppression and assimilation in the text. Kohl stresses the importance of power. He also suggests that in Babar the power lies within the people and not in the animals (Kohl 5). So does Babar’s mother’s death, at the hands of a hunter, show the power that the people had over the animals? Could it be that the mother’s death represents death to Africa? Could Babar’s running away to the city represent a rebirth of a new Africa, with the French in control? Or did it represent assimilation? How about the rich old lady, does she represent oppression in a classist society? After all she did take Babar in clothed him, educated him and furnished him with material things. Picture this, France sends in their men (hunters) to take out the mother elephant (Africa, the MOTHERland). Was this France’s way of going into Africa and killing the ones the resisted to make way for their new colonies? The people that Babar represents assimilate to the French’s way of life. Babar is forced to assimilate into the common culture. He had no choice in the matter, if he did not become like the dominant group he would have been killed, just like his mother. Maybe Babar’s stories are a way of sugar-coating what France was doing at that time in Africa. Was de Brunhoff ashamed of his country for doing this? Maybe that is why the hunter is faceless in the book? Babar, being just a child, is all alone with no guidance. Running away to the city he encounters the rich old lady. According to Kohl, the rich …

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