Folk Tale – Taiwan

Taiwan – Folktale

“There once lived an old man who was really poor. One day he was thirsty so he went to a river and drank the water. As he was walking back home, he realized that his skin was becoming less wrinkly. So, the next day, he went back to the same river and drank some more water. Lo and behold, he became even younger. He came back to his village and bragged about how young he looks. The villagers told him that he shouldn’t drink the water too often, because too much of something is never good, especially when it is a part of nature and does not belong to him. They told him that he didn’t know the repercussions of drinking that water and that the gods might get mad at him. He didn’t care about what the other people said, and he kept going to the river to drink the magical water. Eventually, he kept going to the river, and he drank as much water as he could. The next day, he became a newborn baby with no one to take care of him. So, I guess he died, or something really bad like that happened to him.”

Catherine recalls her grandmother telling her this story when she was a little girl. She said that it has been over ten years since she heard this story, so she forgot most of the details of the tale, but she still remembers the main parts and the morals. She said that this was trying to teach the listener to not be greedy. She also stated that this may seem like a simple concept and lesson, but it is necessary to tell young children about it using an imaginative means such as a story. Although it has a gruesome ending, she felt as though it was necessary to get the point across. She hopes to be able to tell her future children this same story when she gets older, for she does not want the tradition to be lost in her family.

I completely agree with Catherine in that telling stories, such as the one mentioned above, is an excellent way of teaching a vital life lesson to someone, especially a child. The fact that Catherine has not forgotten this story and lesson in over ten years is a testament to this. I also agree that the gruesome ending of the story, the man’s death, is quite effective in warning children not to be too greedy. In addition to Catherine’s understanding of the story’s moral, I believe that another moral in this story is to take all good things in moderation. The fact that the man drank too much of the magic water, which did not belong to him in the first place, led to his demise. Thus, this story illustrates that he could have drunken a little bit of the water and lived happily ever after. Instead, his greed got to the best of him and he could not moderate the amount of water he was going to drink.