A New Trickster of Old

In the music industry artist like to sample music from well-known songs, put a new spin on it, and release it to the public as something new. It is only when we come across the first recordings of some of these songs (by accident or research) do we realize they are not new. This holds true for trickster characters as well, and in looking at Amy MacDonald’s book Please, Malese, you will find, an old-school trickster character, placed in a modern situation, and passed off as something new. In the story, Malese is completely focused on personal gain. He is constantly conning his neighbors into giving him something for free. Finally fed up with his games, his friends decide that he needs to be punished for mistreating them. When Malese is confronted and told that he is going to be jailed, he manages to make the situation benefit himself instead of his friends. Looking at his style of trickery he can be categorized as a deceiver and trick player, and a situation inverter, which are both traits of past tricksters.
In the story he runs into one of his friends, Bouki, who sales rum. With him he has a bottle filled halfway with water. He asks his friend to fill up his jug with rum so that he will have a full bottle. Because he doesn’t want to be the victim of another trick by Malese, he fills the jug hesitantly. When Bouki asks him to pay two dollars for the rum, Malese puts the cap in the bottle and begins to shake and flail his arms with the jug in his hands pretending to be shocked by the price. While doing this he is telling him that his rum is too expensive, and that he can have his half back. During his tantrum he mixed the water and rum so that when he gave him back half of what was in the jug, his jug contained half of both beverages instead of only water. After he does this to a few other people, he has accumulated a jug of strong and pure rum, which he takes home to make a rum cake (MacDonald 8-12). In this example he is defining deceit and trickery when it comes to tricksters (Hynes 35). He has deceived his friend by taking his rum while doing almost no physical activity most likely not even breaking a sweat.
As punishment for the crimes he has committed against his friends, they decide to put him in jail. When he is told of what lies in his future, he tells his friends that being sent to jail would be a privilege, because his house has so many problems (such as a leaky in the roof) it would be a nicer place to stay. At first they question incarcerating him seeing how he is excited about going to jail, but they lock him up in spite of their doubt. Whenever someone went to give him food, he would look as if he was enjoying his stay, but really he was miserable. Having to go feed him is becoming a burden for them, and seeing him happy in jail only makes them feel worse, so they tell him to go home. He refuses to go home because he wants them to believe he deserves to be punished and he wants to be there in order for his last trick to work. After telling him to go back home a few times and having him decline, they then try to force him to leave, and he quickly reminds them of the problems with his house. Finally they agree to fix his house, if he will leave the jail (MacDonald 22-27). In this situation, Malese is a prime example for the trait situation-inverter (Hynes 37). He completely flipped the circumstances to where he has fooled his friends into setting him free from the chastisement he deserves and fixing his house because he is too lazy to do it himself.
Either Malese’s group of friends was lacking some serious common sense, or he was the smartest person in town. Despite the fact that his friends are not very intelligent, crucial to his deception and his ability to turn his situations around is the fact that he has confidence that his tricks will work. He appears to not be nervous, but very comfortable in his language and gestures making it hard for his friends to pick up on the fact that they are about to be victims of fraud. The craftiness he used to cheat his friends was very simple, and it can be likened to that of a peasant trying to get the things he wants, such as the rum. For example, Theot Brun is a trickster in the book The Magic Island; he is a peasant who obtains rum in almost the exact same way that Malese does (MacDonald 29). The fact that someone else has already played this trick, which is set over one hundred years ago, proves that in the case of Malese the setting is modern, but being a deceiver/ trick-player and a situation-inverter are traits of tricksters that were developed years ago. He is only a new person with the same old trickster character traits.