Authoritarian Parenting: Corporeal Punishment

With each violent episode Pinocchio experiences, he is left to grapple with the aftermath of it on his own, without a caregiver helping him process or understand what has happened--and why.


Gepetto is caught

Pinocchio runs away from home. This illustration shows Gepetto thrown into prison by the carabiniere, who was told that he treated Pinocchio poorly by the townspeople. Pinocchio again flees while Gepetto is reprimanded. 

In this illustration, we see the first of several episodes of violence that Pinocchio experiences throughout the book. 


Mangiafuoco uses Pinocchio as firewood

In this illustration, Pinocchio angers Mangiafuoco, the puppet master by disrupting his performance. In return, Mangiafuoco vows to use Pinocchio as firewood to cook his dinner. 


Pinocchio gets away

In this illustration, Pinocchio again meets the Fox and Cat, disguised as assassins, who demand his gold pieces. Pinocchio refuses to give them his money, even though he is threatened with death. The assassins pull at his lips to open his mouth, but Pinocchio bites one of the cat's paws off. He continues to scratch them with his nails until he can escape.

The violence Pinocchio experiences encourages his own volatile behavior. Without an empathetic parent figure teaching him how to regulate his emotions, Pinocchio repeatedly finds himself exacerbating unpleasant situations.  


Pinocchio steals a farmer's grapes

While Pinocchio journeys through the forest, he becomes hungry and decides to steal some grapes from a nearby farm. Unfortunately, Pinocchio gets caught in a weasel trap. Upon finding him, the farmer straps a dog's collar around his throat and condemns him to live in the doghouse as his watchdog. Corporeal punishment is a tenet of authoritarian parenting: children are rarely praised for their good doings, and physically punished for their faults.

It's through this experience that Pinocchio first experiences a pang of regret, manifesting from repeated feelings of shame. He says to himself: "It serves me right! I was determined to be a vagabond. I would listen to bad companions, and that is why I always meet with misfortunes. Oh, if I could be born again!" 


Pinocchio turns into a donkey

Perhaps in Collodi's most didactic (and morbid) portion of this book, Pinocchio is persuaded by his schoolmate Candlewick to go to Toyland, an island where young boys play all day. After five months at Toyland, Pinocchio and Candlewick wake up as donkeys, learning that that's the consequence for children who forgo studying to play all day. 

Pinocchio is sold to a man who intends to skin him, and make the skin into a drum. Sarg's illustration shows Pinocchio and Candlewick as donkeys, gaping wide-eyed at the director who initially buys them. The man is gleeful, while Pinocchio and Candlewick are both horrified at their fates.

In addition to shaming, the use of physical punishment is common in authoritarian parenting. In this case, both are combined: Pinocchio is shamed for his behavior, ashamed at what it has led him to become, physically punished, and faces further violence. 

Authoritarian Parenting: Corporeal Punishment