CONTEXT: DM is a current USC student who attended a North Carolina Christian sleep-away camp in the summer of 2011. This is a story that she heard from an elderly woman named Libby. Libby had been raised at the camp, was head of camp for a number of years, and taught Bible Study and Devotional at the camp. DM interprets this story as a warning to choose obedience over freedom. She does not agree with the moral and does not think this was a good story to tell the children at camp.
Okay, this is a story of two oxen. It starts out with two brothers, and they are two wild
oxen that live in the plains a long, long time ago. These two oxen were living happily.
They were brothers, and they lived with their mom, and they had plenty of free space to
roam, and places to explore, and water and food. And then one day, they started seeing
these creatures and objects they had never seen before, because the railroad had been
being built in their area. And these big heavy machines are coming in, and all these
workers and things. And these carriages were coming by and there was a sudden influx
of people and the land around them was being torn up. And one day while the brothers
are out grazing on the field, this carriage comes by, and they get snatched up by the
carriage and are kidnapped into a working ranch that had just been set up nearby. And
the two oxen were basically prisoners. They had to be worked, and whipped, and made
to wear really uncomfortable saddles and people were always trying to ride them or put
yokes on them. So, they’re being put to work, and they have to pull these heavy carts in
the hot sun and are supposed to be really well-behaved, like sharp, come when they’re
called kind of oxen. And one day, one of the brothers while they’re carrying a load, sees
a hole in the side of the fence. And he goes “oh my gosh, now’s our chance, let’s go
escape.” And the other brother goes “No, I want to stay. I’m really proud of all these
beautiful saddles I can wear now, and how strong I’ve gotten, and all these things I
would’ve never been able to do, but I can do now.” And the other brother is like, “You’re
crazy, I’m leaving. I’m out of here. I don’t want to be a prisoner anymore.” And so, he
leaves, and he goes back to the wild. And at first everything is really lovely, and
beautiful and he has plenty of food to eat and water to drink and everything. And then a
couple years down the line a drought comes across the entire land. Everything is
decimated in the wild. The only people who have water are humans ‘cause they knew
how to collect it, and the only people who have food are humans ‘cause the railroad is
bringing stuff through. And so that meant that the other brother who had stayed had
gotten all this food, while the other brother was thirsty and starving and couldn’t find anything. And one day as he was wallowing around in the dust, he looks up and sees
his other brother carrying a whole carriage with this beautiful saddle and bells and
whistles and tassels on him and everything. He’s looking really strong, and his coat is
gleaming, and he just looks at the other brother and then he just keeps on walking.
Because the other one left the path.
ANALYSIS: This story seems to serve as warning to be obedient or suffer the consequences. Since this story was told in the context of a bible study and devotional, it seems that the working ranch may have been meant to represent the challenges of keeping the laws of the religion and remaining faithful even in difficult times, or through trials and tribulations. The suffering of the ox that chose freedom is potentially meant to represent what may happen, or what someone may feel, when they stray from God, or from their religion. This story was told to ten-year-olds who were likely meant to draw a moral from the story, and be like the ox that chose to stay and gained benefits as a result.