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Layers of a Story - P1

I have noticed some stories follow me everywhere - from kindergarten to high school. As I saw them in my grade 9 or 10 textbooks, I wondered - why are there stories here? I have known these stories from before I turned 6. Well, turns out these stories can be interpreted differently at each stage - here is one of them.

The Monkey and the Crocodile

In this classic story, a crocodile and a monkey become close friends. The crocodile's wife however, wants their friendship to end and brainwashes him to kill and bring the monkey to her. The crocodile although unhappy, attempts to do so. The monkey after finding out about this plan, outwits the crocodile and escapes to safety. They were never able to be friends again.

Seems simple enough? Let's see.

The first time you hear the story as a kid, you are told that the moral is that you should not trust everyone. The story is taught as to emphasize on stranger danger. The crocodile is understood as the villain, and the monkey as the victim. You are taught to know whom you can trust.

Then the next time you read this, you are told that the moral is that you should think smartly, stay calm in times of danger. You are told that only because the monkey was quick-witted it could get out of the situation at hand. You are asked to keep your brain alert.

Later, you realise how easily friendships can get broken if a person betrays the other's trust even once. You get an understanding of the importance of friendship. You see that when the crocodile broke the monkey's trust by inviting him to dinner, while actually planning to kill him, the crocodile is hurt the most - he loses a dear friend. You learn to always be loyal to your friends.

Finally, you think that the story symbolises how easily people get manipulated, turning against the people they love. The crocodile is shown as the victim, who because of his wife, lost a dear friend. You understand to always think for yourself and decide the best course of action.

Are any of these morals wrong? I think not. These types of stories have lots of lessons to learn at each stage. That's probably one of the reasons why these stories remain evergreen for so long. This story was told to me by my parents - and to them by their's. These are the stories that help create good people - guiding each stage of their life with a different lesson.


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