Folk Simile

“You’ve got as much sense as God gave a goose”

The informant found this saying very funny when she first heard it as a child. It’s something her father would often say. He was born and raised in Arkansas in 1930s and 40s. She has no idea what it means, but assumes that it must relate to how geese have little common sense. Since her father grew up as the son of sharecroppers in the American South, he would’ve had more direct contact with animals than my informant ever has. After thinking about it a bit longer, my informant said that she recalled her father saying something about if geese watch another goose get killed, they will continue to attack whoever killed the first goose instead of running away.  

The informant said that this folk simile would be used to refer to someone who is relentlessly stubborn and doesn’t know when enough is enough and drop whatever it is that they are doing. My informant says that she had never heard anyone besides her father use the saying until she met her uncle (father’s younger brother). He told her that it was a common saying in the community that they had grown up around in Arkansas.

However my informant has never performed this piece of folklore herself. She was never that comfortable with the meaning and thinks it’s irrelevant to the people she spends time with, because they, like her, might also be confused by the folk simile’s meaning. Since most people are not raised on farms anymore. My informant’s explanation makes sense to me and I agree with her conclusion about why this saying is localized to a specific folk group in America.