I’m actually confused right now. This story holds a lot of implicit meanings behind it:
1. It sheds the light on handicrafts. How the development and emergence of factories began to hurt the interests of professionals, “(…) with all the big factories springing up all over the city, it’s hard to make a living as a shoemaker these days.”
2. The craftsmen were paid little money, during the period in which the story was told. Unlike today, the craftsmen, and specifically “The handmade” shoemakers, are paid huge amounts of money for the art they make. There is no comparison between handmade shoes and commercial shoes, as there is no comparison between natural leather and artificial leather, “(…) it’s hard to make a living as a shoemaker these days.”
3. So, let me understand this clearly: you are in serious crisis, there is no money to provide your family from, and there is no money to buy leather. Then you wake up the next morning and all of a sudden “there was a beautiful pair of leather boots sitting on the workbench.” Then a young man come and pay for the boots, then days passes without having the slightest curiosity to know who’ve done all this. If it was me, I would have camped from the first night to know who was doing all this.
4. And now, when the bulb lights up their minds to know who’s been doing all this, all what they were thinking of is to actually PAY THEM!!! They still don’t have any curiosity whatsoever to know who are they or why they’ve been doing all this, or if they want something in return. Seriously, how dumb is that?! “We’ve got to pay our nighttime helpers back somehow”
5. I’m not going to discuss the idea that they ACTUALLY FIND ELVES!!! LIKE REAL ELVES! Since it’s folklore, and all. However, when the ELVES finally got paid for their thanked work “They never returned.” It was like: Hello, what an example are you trying to set for the poor children here? Huh?
a) Do good and wait for the day when you get paid.
b) Don’t have the courtesy to thank who did you good.
c) Be an elf and spread your goodness, and don’t forget to play guitar.
“But don’t worry about the shoemaker and her husband. They had been touched by magic, and they were prosperous and happy for the rest of their lives.” No, I’m not worried. It’s just a lovely and simple fairy tale story that my advanced reasoning couldn’t help put profoundly analyse it until it’s fucked up. Sorry.