When Pinocchio first comes across the fairy in chapter 11, she is described as a little girl with “azure hair and a face as white as wax.” She is not only an object of beauty, but she is kind, patient, forgiving, and maternal. She is also quite mysterious. She has no name, and is only ever referred to as “the fairy.” At various points in the story she is supposedly dead, only to be resurrected later on with little to no explanation.
The fairy interacts only with Pinocchio and her animal servants throughout the course of the novel. She is the master of the animals. With a clap of her hands falcons, poodles, and snails appear to do her bidding. These animals act as agents in her plans to help Pinocchio. They rescue him from hanging in oak trees and let him back into the house after he has been gone for months and thrown in jail. In her interactions with the animals, the fairy is kind but in command.
In her interactions with Pinocchio, the fairy is still very kind, but she has no absolute dominion over him. Throughout the story, her objective is to guide Pinocchio on the path of being a good, well-behaved boy. She attempts to instill this in him in two ways. She uses the straight forward approach of telling it like it is. For example, when Pinocchio refuses to take the medicine because of its bitter taste, she warns him that he must take it, or else he will die. There is no sugar coating of the subject. This approach shows her trust in Pinocchio to be able to handle certain things if only given the chance. However, sometimes this trust is ill-placed and Pinocchio does not live up to her expectations. In these instances, she employs the if/then approach. For example, if Pinocchio takes his medicine, then he can have the sugar and if Pinocchio helps her carry the jugs of water, then he can have something to eat. This if/then mantra can be seen in her overall message to Pinocchio- if you behave like a good boy and go to school and obey your elders and don’t tell lies, then you will become a real boy. This approach is a bit more silver-spoon, a little more patronizing than the tell it like it is approach.
The most prevalent characteristic in the fairy’s interactions with Pinocchio is her immense capability for forgiveness. Time and time again, Pinocchio runs off, abandoning the fairy and his responsibilities in favor of adventure, fun, and leisure. And yet, every time he returns and shows remorse, she is there ready to forgive him and welcome him back with open arms. When Pinocchio arrives back at the cottage in the woods after his misadventures with the cat and the fox, he is extremely upset when he finds that the fairy has died. He feels guilt after all of the good things she did for him even though he was so undeserving and is incredibly remorseful that he was in no way able to repay her love. It is this remorse, this deep emotion that he feels for her that reveals her to him in the Land of the Busy Bees. When he returns to her house after running off for the second time, she is again forgiving, providing him with a sofa to lie on and regain his strength. As far as the fairy is concerned, Pinocchio never runs out of chances, so long as he is remorseful.
The fairy’s main role in the novel is that of the mother figure. She is the only female in the entire book and therefore takes on all of the maternal and feminine qualities. She cares for Pinocchio when he is sick, looks out for his future by motivating him to go to school and take it seriously, and loves him unconditionally, no matter how many times he makes the same mistake. For the reader, she is a reminder that we too must be patient with Pinocchio, even when he is at his most frustrating.
Without the guiding, maternal character of the Fairy, Pinocchio would have been left to his own devices and inclinations. He would have carried on with the laziness and sloth-like lifestyle of characters such as Lampwick, and he probably would have suffered a similar, sad fate. The Fairy acts as his saving grace. She is always there to pick him up and dust him off before setting him on the right path once again.