T is for Tricky Terrapin

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Dual Natures in Folktales Around the World – opposites, contradictions & paradoxes.


From Joel Chandler Harris & African-American tales & beyond

Br’er Rabbit stories are told as important ways to bring hope to the hopeless. Yet, that Br’er Rabbit came from across the ocean with all the trickster tales of Rabbit there. When Black people were enslaved in the United States, this story was told more than by Joel Chandler Harris and what was published in “Uncle Remus” books. The oral tradition spread. Normally, Br’er Rabbit was against Man or predators like Fox or Bear. But even Br’er Rabbit could be tricked and had to always be on his toes.

But how can the Terrapin/Turtle beat Rabbit?

Well, in throughout Africa, with special attention to Nigeria, many trickster stories are told of Turtle more so than Rabbit. Whenever you have Turtle AND Rabbit in a story? Put your money on the Turtle.

By the way, a Terrapin is a freshwater Turtle. Much smaller than a typical Turtle. And thus why all the more amazing.

What is so fascinating? What dualities have surfaced?

Often when people tell of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” people praise the Tortoise for preserving and that “slow and steady wins the race.” This particular version shows that it wasn’t “slow and steady” but “clever and wiles wins the race.”

Though, sometimes people equate slowness with speed AND brains. There’s no slowness in brains with this Terrapin.

50-word-or-less summary:

Terrapin and Rabbit argue about who is fastest. 5-mile Race! Buzzard to monitor the race. Posts at every 1-mile mark. Terrapin prefers old woods. Rabbit winds another way. Terrapin has wife and three kids who look like him. Positioned at each post. Come out like a relay race. Terrapin(s) win!

Finding the Story: 

Mister Rabbit Finds His Match At Last – Joel Chandler Harris – found here

More than one Terrapin Story – found here

Story of Terrapin with Fox – found here

Please share thoughts in the comments. While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings. See quick list of programs here.

As for our past A to Z Challenges…

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has been “dual” in our offerings of our hybrid summit & festival on May 9-12, 2022 – yes, in-person and virtual – and would be honored for you to join us. Explore the schedule and register here: http://www.storycrossroads.org/Festival

Thanks to funding from National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; Western States Arts Federation; Utah Division of Arts and Museums/Utah Legislature; Utah Humanities; Youth, Educators, Storytellers (YES); City of Murray; Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP) of Salt Lake County; Salt Lake City Arts Council; Clever Octopus; High Desert Brain Trust; Ashton Family Foundation; and people like you.

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Story Crossroads fosters creative and compassionate communities through the art of storytelling. 501(c)(3)

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