Stories can be told with few details or a lot. Consider the following two versions of the Aesop fable, “The Oak and the Reed.”
An oak that had been uprooted by a storm was carried down a river to the banks where many reeds were growing. The oak was astonished to see that things so slight and frail had withstood the storm when so great and strong a tree as he himself had been uprooted. *
“It’s really not amazing,” said a reed. “You were destroyed by fighting against the storm, while we survived by yielding and bending to the slightest breath that was blown.” from Aesop’s Fables, Edited by Jack Zipes, Signet Classic. 1992 P. 143.
A Giant Oak stood near a brook in which grew some slender Reeds. When the wind blew, the great Oak stood proudly upright with its hundred arms uplifted to the sky. But the Reeds bowed low in the wind and sang a sad and mournful song.
* “You have reason to complain,” said the Oak. “The slightest breeze that ruffles the surface of the water makes you bow your heads, while I, the might Oak, stand upright and firm before the howling tempest.” *
* “Do not worry about us,” replied the Reeds. “The winds do not harm us. We bow before them and so we do not break. You, in all your pride and strength, have so far resisted their blows. But the end is coming.” *
* As the Reeds spoke a great hurricane rushed out of the north. The Oak stood proudly and fought against the storm, while the yielding Reeds bowed low. The wind redoubled in fury, and all at once the great tree fell, torn up by the roots, and lay among the pitying Reeds. from The Aesop for Children, Checkerboard Press. 1919. P. 28.
What details are in version II that are missing in version I? What effect does the addition of details in version II have in the story? Where is the “moral” inserted in each version?
* Assignment: Choose one of the Aesop fables below, and amplify it to...
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