What are folk tales and what do they do? Folk tales are some sort of traditional literature that were started in the oral tradition as a way of explaining and understanding the natural and the spiritual world. It is believed that folk tales originated from the oral tradition and were present up to the 12th century when the circulation of literary sources began in Europe.
Various scholars are on the opinion that the folk tales were handed down from one generation to the other as people migrated. Once the folktales were developed in a certain region, they spread to other areas or even countries through traders, sailors, soldiers or even slaves captured in war. Because of passing of the folk tales from one person to another or from one country to another, in most cases the original folktales was altered and sometimes the original message or concept would change.
Research has shown that those folk tales that traveled over land changed more than those ones that traveled by sea because of the process of retelling. Most of the folk tales we have today were created during the early period of human civilization.
Folk tales are categorized into various groups
Folk tales besides entertaining, serve other important purpose like giving the people the means to share and transmit culture, history and values. The most important purpose of the folk tales is to improve the social consciousness of the child; this is because through the folk tales the child understands or learns that good will always triumph over evil. Folk tales also have the ability to enable the children relate with the past and develop the ability to connect with it. This is because in most cases the folk tales to the children represents the world from their own perspective. What makes a folk tale effective is the ability to entertain and how it is narrated and how easily the child can discern the lesson behind the story.
A typical folk tale that illustrates this is the story of the Mouse the Bird and the sausage (Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm). This story falls into the talking beast category, where animals, objects and creatures are able to talk and communicate just like humans.
The story is a good entertainment folk tale because of its lively nature that involves characters the child can easily relate with. Children can easily relate with the bird, the rat and more interestingly the sausage. For children, the exaggeration characterization of animals talking like human beings makes the folk tale very enjoyable.
Analysis of the story
The story of the sausage starts of in a very captivating way most children respond instantly when a story starts with the sentence once upon a time¦.. it makes them get easily interested with the story.
The story starts with the introduction of the main characters who include the rat the bird and the sausage and their roles in the whole story. This story is humorous in the beginning especially because of the involvement of the sausage. The role of the sausage is bound to attract great interest because most children love sausages which are part of their breakfasts. After the introduction that is interesting and captivating the stage is now being set for the theme and action of the folk tale. This second paragraph is setting the development of the story.
This development is set when the bird is criticized by his friend for working so hard. We also get to have a chance of seeing how the 3 friends were harmoniously working together. The Rats tasks were to make the fire and carry water then rest in the parlor till the time for setting the table, Sausages role was to keep watch as the pot was cooking and eventually dive into the food to grease and salt the food as mealtime approached. The Birds tasks were to bring home the fire wood that would be used for cooking. The teamwork they had made their lives great because they served each other. However, we see the birds friend giving bad advice. (Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm).
Unfortunately the bird heeds the friends advice and responsibilities of the 3 friends change at the insistence of the bird who is their master. It is a sad thing because for the first time we see cracks appearing in the teamwork; they argue. The ground is now set for the new responsibilities. The sausage is supposed to go and fetch firewood, the rat is supposed to cook and the bird is required to fetch the water. (Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm).
We see the sausage trudging on to the forest to fetch firewood. This appears to be torturous because kids understand that the sausage does not have legs or hands. The folktale is now rousing curiosity because one wants to know what happened next.
Sadly the sausage delays coming back and we see the concern of the other two. Interestingly the sausage is a female, the bird is a male and the rat is a female and the dog that ate the sausage is a male. In many folktales girls and women are displayed as the weak and vulnerable and boys and men are cruel and dominating. When the bird flew to find out what happened he encounters the dog who abducts and eats the sausage even though the bird complains bitterly. This is very sad.
However the two friends, the bird and the rat are filled with sorrow for the loss of their friend. This helps us see that the 3 friends indeed loved each other. The 2 friends decide to stick together despite of the loss of their friend. The rat decides to take up the responsibilities that the sausage had. Unfortunately while trying to jump into the cooking pot to slither and weave in about the vegetables and grease them she perishes. It is yet another tragedy that happens to the 3 friends. The bird is now left on his own. (Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm).
When he wanted to eat, because of inexperience he did not get anyone to cook for him. We see a character of the bird that we had not seen before; that he was careless. His carelessness costs him his life, he drowns in the well, while trying to fetch water. It is a tragedy.
This folktale has a sad ending unlike many others that have a happy ending.
What we learn from this story is that we should always remain united because it will help us and provided our unity makes us happy and comfortable we should work hard to maintain it because we need each other. In a team it is easy because everyone has different strengths. Also we should not always take other peoples advice we should always be careful when they criticize us.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage : Story accessed on
14th June 2008 from: