Babar, King of the Elephants, first surfaced in Jean de Brunhoff’s 1931 children’s book Histoire de Babar, later translated into English by A. A. Milne before finally becoming a cartoon in 1989. The first thing to be noticed about Babar was his extravagant wealth both in his homeland where he is King and abroad in Europe where he leads the bourgeois life. As I got older I realized that Babar is the ultimate bourgeois; his extravagant palace is nearly the same size as the whole of Celesteville, the city he founded as his capital. His life is folds better than that of the citizens of his capital. Financial equality did not exist in his city; neither did democratic institutions. Babar’s aura is sophisticated, he is well-versed in the games of the aristocracy, and received a classical education in Europe.
Babar was not born a member of the bourgeoisie; he became one rising prominently and quickly in social circles. Clearly Babar is the Vito Corleone of the elephants. An orphan who immigrated to start a new life and with his wealth he came back to build an empire. He establishes his family as the most powerful not just amongst the elephants but in the whole of Africa. Babar was ruthlessly ambitious; he demanded that Celesteville be finished with unrealistic deadlines and pushed the workers to their limits. He promised his people protection from the rhinos in return for their loyalty in a Godfather-esque fashion.
Image by Antonio Mosquera