Saturday, April 14, 2012
Boy Sticks Finger in Dike: Saves Town
The story of the Dutch boy is actually a story within a story. It can be found in the Mary Mapes Dodge classic Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, written in 1875. As the story goes, the little boy notices a leak in the dyke and he immediately plugs the hole with his finger, knowing that the one little leak can soon turn into a bigger hole whereby the entire dyke can be breached. If that were to happen, the water would spill into the low-lying countryside, flooding houses and killing people and livestock.
The little boy remains there with his finger plugging the hole all night in spite of the horrible wind, rain and cold until finally some of the townspeople happen to spot him and come to his rescue. They patch up the dyke and the little boy is hailed as the town hero for saving everyone in the county. Although the little boy in the story remains nameless, he is said to represent the will of each and every Dutchman/woman who would sacrifice himself/herself to save others by plugging his finger in the dyke. The author wanted to convey the amazing resolve and honor of the Dutch people in a single metaphor, and it is one that lives on more than a hundred years after her death.