Nationality: Arab American
Residence: Glendale, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 19, 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Arabic
Form of Folklore: Folk Speech (Riddle)
Informant Bio: The informant was born and raised in Glendale, California. Most of the folklore he has been exposed to comes primarily from his father, who is of Arabic decent. Other folklore has been attained either through media sources (i.e. Reddit) or through personal life experiences in America.
Context: The interview was conducted on the porch of another informant’s house in the presence of two other informants
Item: A king of a land has two sons and he’s slowly dying. He tells his sons that one of them will inherit the thrown but to do so they’re gonna have a competition; they’re gonna race each other. He gives them both horses and tells them, “The last horse to show up to the finish line will get to inherit the throne.” So the two brothers… they get on the horses and they both start racing as fast as they can, and they both want the throne. How is this possible?
The answer is that they got on the other person’s horse and they raced. So whoever showed up first (whoever was riding that horse) would actually be the winner… because their horse showed up next.
Informant Comments: The informant’s father told him this riddle. He believes it is most likely rooted in some sort of truth; the thought being that there could have been a king who asked his sons to race for the thrown, but most likely did not say that the looser of the race would be the winner of the kingdom. Whether the riddle is based in truth or not, the informant believes this riddle is an entertaining folklore to help pleasantly pass time with friends and family.
Analysis: This riddle, unlike most, is built from a mini-narrative. The beginning presents a problem: the king is dying and the next king must be determined. The solution to this problem is a horse race, but it is left to the listener to determine how it is possible for the two sons to want the thrown and yet try to have the horse they are on finish first (when the owner of the last horse will be the next king). Having this riddle presented in a possibly real scenario makes the listener feel as though they may be faced with a riddle similar to this one in real life.