Grandfather’s Chair- The Lady Arbella

The story I read was a short piece from the “Grandfather’s Chair” series.  It was called “The Lady Arbella”, which was the first part of his story.   The story begins as the children get tired from playing in the sun all afternoon.  Tired, they go into the house to find their grandfather (who remains as Grandfather through the story) sitting his special chair.  The children were always curious about said chair because of how strange the back was, with intricate designs and patterns.  It was also quite old.  The youngest child, Alice, asks Grandfather to describe the story behind the chair.  He describes how the chair was made about two centuries ago, and how it was passed down to a woman named Lady Arbella, who moved the America with her new husband.  He also describes the history behind why Puritans left England and came to America.  Lady Arbella came along with her new husband, Mr. Johnson because of the religious freedom, but she missed her old hometown and could not fit in with the laborers and tough men that resided in the colonies.  She died soon after she settled down in America.  The children were saddened by this.

This piece is meant to be a way to teach children history through a story.  It is very different from today’s media, where historical stories are told directly, but usually leaves out gory details that adults deem to be too much for young children.  For example, this story can be compared to the  Charlie Brown version of Thanksgiving, which also explained why the Puritans came to America.  In that version, all the details behind the strife in England was left out and simmered down to “People wanted religious freedom.”  It looks like a joyous occasion for the Pilgrims, but it was not.  When they got here, many people like Lady Arbella died, but that was also smoothed over in the Charlie Brown version, where they mention people dying, but it is quickly changed into how the Pilgrims met the Native Americans.  In short, today’s children’s texts and media does not go into the specifics of death and war like old literature used to.