Ostenfor sol og vestenfor mane

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Informant: This is a tale that is commonly known amongst the people of Norway. My informant told me it is like a common tale that would be told in the United States. Kind of like Snow White mixed with Cinderella. The story goes that there is a poor family with many kids. There is a white bear comes to the house of the family and offers riches in return for the most beautiful and youngest daughter of the family. The youngest goes with the bear to the castle. The bear turns back into a human but is called to his stepmother’s castle that is East of the Sun and West of the moon but has to marry her ugly princess daughter. The rest of the story is the youngest beautiful daughter must embark on a quest to save the bear prince and find true love.

Context: My informant remembered this story being a popular one in his town where he grew up. It was just a common story to know, everyone knew it just like Cinderella in the United States. It was hard for my informant to exactly pin where he first learned the story, but said it gets referenced in schooling somewhat often especially at a young age. My informant guesses it was his mother or an early grade school teacher who first taught him the story.

Analysis: The moral of the story from what I understand is that from the poor family’s perspective, they helped the bear but in return for riches. The story is also about the young girl’s journey to save the bear prince because he is in “danger” and she finds him and it is true love after all. These Norwegian stories morals and values are a bit hard to define especially because my informant has to remember them from a long time ago, in his head which is in Norwegian, then translate it to English so I could write them here. There was almost certainly parts of the story lost because it had been so long and due to translation.