The woman in this tale, as in many others, is the regulator and distributor of food. Woman feeds, or does not, and when she does feed, she often poisons. Blanchot writes of the “very remarkable passion of certain women who become poisoners: their pleasure does not lie in causing suffering, nor even in killing slowly, bit by bit, or by stifling, but rather it lies in reaching the indefiniteness that is death by poisoning time.” The figure of “woman” is, in our mythologies, the mark of this indefiniteness. She stands not just on, but as, the fissure between the living and the dead.
In the tale of the children cast out into the woods, the father may have doubts, but in the end he is secondary, powerless to decide their fate. But in choosing their death, in choosing not to feed the children, is she, “the woman,” a poet? The tale doesn’t go that far. Yet.
“It was already the third morning since they had left the father's house. They started walking again, but managed only to go deeper and deeper into the woods. If help did not come soon, they would perish. At midday they saw a little snow-white bird sitting on a branch. It sang so beautifully that they stopped to listen. When it was finished it stretched its wings and flew in front of them. They followed it until they came to a little house. The bird sat on the roof, and when they came closer, they saw that the little house was built entirely from bread with a roof made of cake, and the windows were made of clear sugar.”