As an instrument of conditioning, it assumes a much serious scope and importance that deserves the questioning attention of the concerned adults and literary critics. A plethora of studies unambiguously point towards the fact that children's books and narratives do play a vital role in the early development of a child because of their relevance as an easily accessible cultural resource that children knowingly or unknowingly refer to, to gain information about the world surrounding them (Tsao 1). The conditioning influences exerted by the children's narratives do unambiguously have a direct impact on the children's perception and the way they interpret the world around them. The narratives that the children read or listen to always have a deep psycho social influence on them, considering the fact that childhood represents that tender phase of life when children actively shape ideas in their mind about their role in the society, with the aid of the information being provided to them (Rudman 5). In general, children's literature is expected to incorporate such characters and events that children can readily consume to evaluate and correlate their own actions, views and opinions (Mendoza and Reese). It gives the children an opportunity to experience how the world may look like from someone else's vantage point, thereby allowing them to expand their personal view pertaining to self and the outside world (Tsao 2). The popular children's literature plays a pivotal role in the formation of self image and the consolidation of a child's identity as a man, woman, soldier, super human or a range of possible attributes (Singh). Children's literature is a potent medium for the transmission of a society's culture to the young ones. The toy soldier narrative is an important genre of children's narrative that has managed to retain its relevance and popularity even in the 21st century. However, the disturbing problem is that the toy soldier narratives may often send contradictory messages to the nascent minds. On the one side they may implant a morbid fascination for violence, straight jacketed military discipline; authoritarian hierarchical set ups and gender stereotyping in the young and impressionable minds. On the contrary, they may also encourage the children to develop respect for self discipline, cooperation, team work and social responsibility and accountability. Analyzing the two celebrated toy soldier narratives that is 'The steadfast soldier' by Hans Christian Andersen and 'Lord of nutcracker men' by the Canadian author Iain Lawrence may turn out to be really eye opening in the given context.
'The steadfast Soldier' is a sad, gloomy and perhaps one of the most unusual of the Andersen's tales. The underlying message in the story is that of a pathetic submission and passivity symbolized by the self complacent, one legged soldier, docilely bearing with the ensuing circumstances. In a social context, this may motivate a child to cherish the ideal of a pitiable self denial and self effacement before some higher authority. In a pragmatic scenario, that authority may turn out to be, tough circumstances, the school bully, some child abuser or the state or the nation. In