Tuesday, July 12, 2016

C148. Baer (p. 141). Brother Rabbit and the Chickens

This is Chase148.

K0401 blame for theft fastened on dupe
K2150 innocent made to appear guilty
Baer's entire commentary is as follows: "There is no analogue to this in the sources consulted. Fox, in this story, behaves more like a European numskull than like an African dupe; Rabbit persuades him to carry the bag by flattering him rather than appealing to his greed.



Whoa, not only is this one of my very favorite Rabbit stories, Baer's comments here show what is lacking when there is only a search for motifs and types rather than a functional analysis. Rabbit is doing here just what Rabbit DOES, and so is Fox... so instead of looking at the stories to see what motifs are there, surely it is just as important to see what trickster functions are set in motion. I won't be able to find typological parallels to use, but that will just give me the opportunity to provide functional parallels, like when the dupe is actually told, in veiled language, by the trickster that he is being duped: Whipmewhopme pudding! So, I appreciate all the work Baer did with the type/motif analysis, but this story shows how that analysis can really fall short in helping us understand the way these stories actually work as stories.
Plus, she is wrong about how Rabbit tricks the Fox: greed is very much going on here: nine dollars a pound! A quick Google search gives this amount for the value of cotton in mid-19th century (Quora):
So about 13.5 cents/pound, or $3.45 in today's dollars. For comparison, a pound of cotton trades for between 80 and 90 cents/pound today.

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