Y is my other parental figure of mine who grew up in China and is currently living in California.
This conversation took place over a weekly phone call with my parents after I asked them about stories that they knew from China.
Y: Master Dongguo and the Wolf – this is a little like the story, uh what’s the story? The farmer and the snake! Remember the farmer and the snake, the farmer found a frozen snake and put him into his, next to his chest inside his jacket and the snake was warmed up and woke up and bit the farmer and killed the farmer.
Me: I don’t remember that one.
Y: It’s an Aesopp’s fable. Anyways, this one is a similar one but in Chinese. Master Dongguo is a teacher, who’s a little bit stubborn but not very wise. He felt he was a kind person and willing to help out people or anything because he thinks he should do the right thing because of whatever he learned. One day he was walking in a mountain and came upon a wounded wolf. The wolf was being pursued by someone who was, I think a hunter. The hunter was chasing after the wolf so the wolf asked Master Dongguo for the help. Master Dongguo was carrying a bag of book so he pulled out the books and told the wolf to get inside the bag and then he put some of the books into the bag to make it look like a bag for books. The hunter was able to catch up and see Master Dongguo. So he asked him if he saw a wolf and he lied and said he didn’t see a wolf. After the hunter left, he let the wolf out. The wolf was, at first, thankful but then he said oh if you’re such a kind person maybe you can do another good deed by letting me eat you because I’m hungry.
Y: And he also said, while I was in the bag, you put books on me and I nearly suffocated. I almost died from suffocation. So you need to compensate me-
Me: Ungrateful wolf (laugh).
Y: Yeah, so that’s why I said it’s like the farmer and the snake story. Anyways, Master Dongguo was upset so he didn’t know what to do. He actually told the wolf we should ask other people for their opinions so he went to a big tree and told the tree about the story and asked what he think. The tree said I was a big food tree and I was able to produce fruits every year for my owner, but after they ate all the fruits and I grew old and could no longer bear fruit, they decided to chop me down for the wood and make me into furniture. So what do you think the treatment I endured was unfair?
Because Master Dongguo said I saved him and he tried to eat me. And he said my experience was also unfair, so I can’t help you. So then they went along and saw a cow, and asked the cow for his help. And the cow heard the story and said sorry I can’t help because I was treated unwell by my owner. I- I helped to plow the fields and worked hard for many years and when I got old I couldn’t work hard anymore so my owner wanted to eat me. Okay? So I can’t help I have to run away.
And then finally, they came across an older man. An old man heard the story and said I don’t believe either of you. The bag seems awful small and I don’t think the wolf can fit in there. But the wolf said I curled up and hid my tail and I can fit just fine. He told the wolf I don’t believe your story either because I don’t know how the books made you suffocated, so I have to see for myself. So can you get into the bag and show me? So the wolf gladly got into the bag and the old man immediately grabbed the bag and tied it up-
Y: He told Master Dongguo you need to kill him because he’s an ungrateful wolf.
Me: What’s the moral of the story??
Y: The moral of the story is don’t be kind to bad people, like…
Me: The wolf.
Y: The wolf.
The informant immediately began by referencing a different fable in order to explain and preface this tale, which I thought spoke directly to the globalization and multiplicity that has been brought on even more by the printed word. This story is one that takes a more aggressive point in proving a moral, a warning to children and others to look out for people like this wolf. Additionally, this story has a bit of a humorous note at the end in which the other man is very blunt after tricking the wolf again. This story also echoes the stereotypical portrayal of a wolf as a creature that deceives humans and is planning on eating humans. It perpetuates this evil typecast of the wolf, even towards his savior.