There are many variations on this story, of course, and many other stories are coherent fragments of this one. It is a story that has been used mightily to awaken the imagination and stimulate holy desire in places where “religion” does not go. The principal point I am making here about it, though, is that it is not a story, but The Story. It is normative, the Zion of all stories, and draws all others to it. Because it has its foundations in the foundations of the world, it will not go away. It has made the world and will end it.
This means that the child in the ghetto can lawfully dream of her strong and loving king no matter what society does and no matter what smart people tell her about her prospects. It means the miserable and broken child of divorce may imagine in hope the faithful prince who, like the faithful bull, always loves his princess and no other, and that happily ever after means just that. It means the good fairy tales are good because God wrote them, and that the children are perfectly free to forget the ugly, stupid ones, since, quite contrary to what the wicked professors say, they aren’t true.