By James Thurber
Princess Lenore has fallen ill and there is only one thing that can make her feel better, the moon. Can the King figure out a way to satisfy his daughters demands? Only with the help of an unassuming assistant... his court jester!
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
When Princess Lenore falls ill with a tummy ache from too many tarts, she laments that only the moon itself can cure her ailment. Her father, the King, who always gets his beloved daughter what she wants, promises the moon. Of course, he has no idea how this can even be possible, and it seems that his trusty entourage of crafty assistants only seem to validate this. But perhaps Lenore is not asking for as much as everyone thinks. The only person with the wisdom actually to ask her what she is really asking for is the court jester. While everyone had some idea of what getting the moon consisted in that made it impossible, Lenore's idea of it was pretty easy to accommodate.
One way to discuss this book is an exploration into the nature of feelings. Coming to understand the nature, and vast variety of feelings that make up our emotional lives is sure to inspire lively discussion. Why do we have them? What purpose do they serve in our lives? Why do some of them have to "hurt." The idea that some feelings can be painful, or that feelings can be "hurt" raises another interesting question. How are emotional pains the same or different from physical pains? Finally, another topic on the nature of feelings is where they are. Are they in our minds? If so, how? And what about our feelings that we are not currently feeling? Are they hanging out somewhere in our minds too?
Another interesting aspect to the story is the seeming wisdom of the court jester. The fact that all of the king's experts where supposedly endowed with great knowledge did not seem to give them the wisdom needed to help to the princess out of her self-inflicted dilemma. As a result of this depiction, Many Moons offers up a philosophical discussion about the distinction between being wise and knowing things, that is, the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
A third set of interesting philosophical issues can be found in examining the princesses perception of what the moon was. How we perceive the world effects our feelings, and desires, and how we intend to see our desires fulfilled. The jester, in his wisdom, realizes that the princess has a certain perception of the moon, and an certain perception of what it might mean to have it. And given that perception, did not see her request for the moon as outlandish or impossible.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion
By Reisa Alexander
When the little princess got sick, her father the King promised to get her anything her heart desired.
The King had many wise men who always got for him anything he wanted.
The King summons his royal counselors and asks them to produce the moon to restore Princess Lenore's health.
The King’s wise men each seemed to know just how far away the moon was, and also what it was made of.