The Effect of the Tortoise and the Geese

A blog viewer has asked about the narrative effect of this story.   In this fable the narrator lets behavior speak for itself as in most fables.  Of course, the fabulist has picked the matter, action and consequences. He obviously knows his human nature.  Human beings will say and do what is necessary to survive as do animals ; but  natural reactions, especially perverse ones, often turn against us (fate?). The tortoise’s anger at the jeering crowd trumps the better nature of enduring patience and keeping one’s mouth shut.  Who knows whether the tortoise had a better nature which he ignored or was she totally incapable of keeping her mouth shut.  As a result he failed to live another day. He had to yell at the mocking crowd.

The effect for me is a sense of  tragedy.  The fabulist manages to create much sadness and empathy for the flawed  tortoise.  If we do not do what we would and should do, we suffer consequences.  Death makes the effect intensely powerful. There is also a clear statement that help in this world is available if we want to commit to it (the geese).  A child, of course, will feel sorry for the tortoise, perhaps hear a truth about living and perseverance, but most likely will only be lucky if he or she carries the lesson into adulthood.

Steadfast and cautious,

David Milliken

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