Narrative

My Brother and the Barefoot Race

My informant told me a very funny story about her younger brother:

“When my brother was in second or third grade his school class had to run the mile in gym class. Because he usually ran very fast, and wanted to remain the fastest kid in his grade, he was determined to finish first and beat his best friend. After the first half lap one of his sneakers came off, but he kept hobbling and running. Eventually the gym teacher yelled for him to stop and get his shoe on, but his friend was on his tail and he didn’t want to stop, so he took off the other shoe. He kept running and stayed in the lead, much to the teachers’ amusement, but now he knew that his socks were getting dirty, so as he ran he took off his socks, never losing the lead. The teachers were dumbfounded, but he won the race and remained the grade’s fastest runner.  I think the moral is that determination makes you do strange things.”

My informant told me that she tells this story very often. During the summer she is a counselor at a Track and Field summer camp, so she tells this story to the kids sometimes to get them excited for a race, or to make them laugh. Still to this day she laughs while she is telling it, while wearing a wide, proud grin as she finishes.

I think that this piece of folklore is quite funny, but also reveals how proud the informant is of her brother. Her smile as she tells it reveals how she enjoys telling the tale, and her willingness to provide a moral and make it a legitimate story with a purpose adds to this. The story itself is also very reflective of how determination can really pay off, even if it looks strange.

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