The happy ending is a commonly-used technique in fairy tales and other such bedtime stories, comprising a "happily ever after" and an optimistic (or perhaps "sugar-coated") end.

Most Disney films conclude with a "happy ending", since this is in the vein of "giving the public what it wants". Example: At the end of Cinderella, the girl is happy, the guy is happy, the villains have received their comeuppance and everyone lives happily ever after.

Happy endings are about giving the public what it wants, because no one wants (or so the media believe/would have us believe) to see a film about the truth or real life; a film where the hero dies, the girl ends up with the villain and everyone lives horribly ever after.

It is important to look at the happy ending in the context of children's stories, since this approach is used to sugar-coat reality in an attempt to convince children that the world is a happy place and that everything is going to be fine. It's all fine and dandy to create this ideal and non-existent world in the minds of children, but what if they actually believe it? What if they can't understand why nice guys finish last or cannot comprehend the unfairness of the world?

The question that one must ask, before opening "Little Red Riding Hood" and teaching children of wolves that swallow children live and whole (who, miraculously, remain live and whole) is: Should we teach children about the real world from a young age, despite the cruelty and unfairness that it contains; or convince them of a magical, happy place that doesn't exist and will build up great expectations of a life confined to the pages of a book?

To each his own; do what you believe is right for your child. However, I cannot help but feel some guilt and unease at assisting in the creation of a fantasy world in young minds that forms such naive and innocent perceptions of a world that can ill afford them.

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