Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

justso-cover-penguin1989Rudyard Kipling was born in the year 1865 and died in the year 1936. In his whole life, he wrote stories like: The Jungle Book. Departmental Ditties, Plain Tales From the Hills, The Second Jungle Book and more. He won many honorary degrees and other awards. He won the ‘Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Literature’, which only three people had been awarded before him. The Nobel Prize in Literature 1907 was awarded to Kipling “in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author“.

Just So Stories is the collection of Kipling’s short stories. The book was published in 1902. These short stories are children fables or what it is called “the origin story”. I think the purpose of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories is to entertain children and adults. Adults find it classical and have meanings; while children finds it funny, especially the illustrations that Kipling made with a brief explanation of the picture. I will display my top three of the stories.

The Cat that Walked by Himself

The Cat that Walked by Himself is an interesting story. Long time ago, everything on Earth was wild. There were Wild Dogs, Wild Pigs and many more wild animals. The most majestic one was the Wild Cat. He walked by himself and all places were alike to him. One day, the Wild Man ‘married’ to the Wild Woman. The Wild Woman told the Wild Men to leave all his wild ways. So soon, it was the Man and the Woman . They lived in a cave in a comfy den.

On day, the Wild Dog became curious and decided to go and check the den. Before he went there, he asked the Wild Cat to come with him, but he refused. But when the Wild Dog went, the Wild Cat followed the Wild Dog to the Man’s cave. There he watched the Wild Dog became the Man’s (and the Woman’s) best friend. Because the Woman could do ‘magic’. (Which of course, she gave the dog some bones)

The same thing happened to the Wild Horse and the Wild Cow (the Woman gave them hay). Then the Wild Cat decided to go to the Man and the Woman.

When he arrived, he found out that the Woman did not need any servants or friends. She made a bargain with the Cat. If she said one word of praise to the Cat, he was allowed to stay in the cave. If she said two words of praise to the Cat, then he was allowed to sit by the fire. And if she said three words of praise, the Cat was allowed to drink milk produced by the “used to be Wild” Cow.

Well, because the Wild Cat was smart, when the Woman had the Baby, the cat managed to squeeze compliments out of the Woman. By, making the Baby laugh when it cried, making the Baby slept with the wild Cat’s purr, and catching mice that made the Woman scream.

The Man and the Dog made their bargains with The Cat once the Cat went home. The Man would throw stuffs on the Cat if he didn’t  catch a mouse. And the Dog would bite the Cat if he was cruel to the Baby. So that’s that.

***

I like this story because I am a big fan of cat. The cat here in this story is really smart and intelligent. This story feels like a modification of Adam and Eve’s biblical story and the history of Men.

This story is also a fiction way to tell about the bond between Men and Dogs and how horses and cattle work for us. It explains why cat sometimes do not want to be people’s companions and why the cats do not work for the humans. In reality, I know cats love milk and of course, sit by the fire in the houses. I understand cats’ behaviors so much. This story is always on my mind whenever I am with my cats.

The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo

Long time ago, kangaroos were not like they were now. They didn’t have long legs and they walked on fours. Long time ago, they couldn’t jump. The Kangaroo here was arrogant. One day he went to Little God Nqa at six before breakfast and asked Him to change the Kangaroo (himself) into something different by five in the afternoon. He was rejected.

Then he went to Middle God Nquing at eight after breakfast and asked him to make him (the Kangaroo) popular by five in the afternoon. He was refused by a very shocked God who wondered why the Kangaroo would ask such a thing.

Then he went to Big God Nqong at ten before dinner time and asked him to make him different from the other animals. Big God Nquong said, “Yes! I will!”

He called Yellow Dog Dingo and told him he had lunch. That was how the kangaroo got chased around by the dingo. His feet soon became tired and he  had to walk on two legs. Soon after running and running, his back got gets stronger and stronger. He jumped, getting longer distance to longer distance.

That was when the clock turned five. Yellow Dog Dingo was now Tired Dog Dingo. Both of them met Big God Nqong who told the kangaroo that he should thank the dingo for changing him. That was why kangaroos walked on two legs, and jumped in really long distances.

***

This story is really hillarious. It is a reason (I don’t know if it is also a legend) on why kangaroos are like that. It is told in a fun way.

Why didn’t Little God Nqa and Middle God Nquing want to change the kangaroo? Maybe because they got fed up to see the kangaroo dancing, disturbing them and acting arrogant. The story said that the kangaroo actually used to have a name. It was “Boomer”. He lost it because he was too proud.

Now there are some parts of this story that don’t make sense. Why did Yellow Dog Dingo keep on chasing the Kangaroo, even if he was tired? Maybe he was Big God Nqong’s pet or he was chained in a spell that made him running.

Overall, I am pretty sure this is the most popular Just So Stories story. I enjoy it so much too.

The Beginning of the Armadillos

There was once a tortoise and a hedgehog in the jungle. They were best of friends. In the same jungle, there was also a painted Jaguar, who was told by his mother all the tactics she knew to capture every animal.

One day, the Jaguar stumbled across the tortoise and the hedgehog. He recalled everything his mother told him loudly. But those two animals tricked him. He went on with an injured paw. His mother told him how to tell the differences between the animals.

Now the Hedgehog and the Tortoise knew that the Jaguar would come again. So the Hedgehog learnt to swim, because the way to kill a hedgehog is to drown it. And the Tortoise learnt how to curl himself up into a ball. Because the way to kill tortoises is to flip it over.

The Jaguar came again. This time he knew which was which so he threw the Hedgehog into the water. To his surprise, the hedgehog swam in the water. Then he tried to flip the tortoise but he couldn’t. The tortoise had curled itself up.

He went home to his mother and told her about the strange animals he saw. The mother told him that he should leave those animals alone. For a meantime, until she found out their names, she decided to call them armadillos.

***

This story seems to talk about a hedgehog and a tortoise who learn by each other how to overcome their weakness. With their new strength, they seem to combine the power of both; so in the end they are called Armadillos.

Using wits, they get lots of advantages by overcoming their each others flaws. The jaguar will leave them alone. If another jaguar comes again, they would show their strengths, or outwit it like when the first time

Overall, this is an exciting story. It inspires me to always use all my power to defend myself.

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