“There is the story about the three little pigs. They are brothers and there is a lazy lazy one, a lazy one, and a hard-working one. They build three houses. Each one builds one house, all out of different materials. One of them built it really quick and was like ‘yeah whatever’, the other one worked a bit harder, but not super hard, and the last one worked really really hard on it and made it out of bricks. When the big bad wolf came the house of the super lazy pig that made it out of straws and sticks blew off, and the other sorta lazy pig’s house also blew off, the only house that protected them was the house made out of bricks.”
Context and Analysis:
I asked my informant a 21-year-old female if she recalled any folk stories. The informant narrated to me the story of the “Three Little Pigs.” She claims this was a bedtime story told to her when she was a child. She believes the story speaks to the rewards of doing hard work and applying dedication. The informant identifies a lot with the story for her dad was a very charismatic storyteller, so as a child she was very invested in the lives of the little piggies and this story really stuck with her. She remembers her feeling of terror vividly knowing the wolf was approaching the houses of the first two piggies and they were going to blow away. The informant explains how having this story be such a large part of her childhood has taught her hard work and dedication. She will forever remember the hard work the third pig put into his house and the rewards that came from it.
I too remember hearing a version of this story as a child and agree with my informant on the interpretation. There are many versions of the story, but the meaning ultimately remains the same. The story emphasizes the rewards of hard work. The first two pigs did not do a good job of building their houses, and because of this when the wolf came to test their houses they fell apart. The last pig worked really hard and put a lot of effort into building his house making it the only house left standing between the three pigs. I believe this story is a great tale to teach children about the value of hard work.
By having the middle pig who did not do a bad job, but didn’t do a good job I think the story also addresses mediocrity. If the middle pig had put in a bit more work into building his house, it would have probably been successful in protecting him from the wolf. This highlights the importance of following through and putting in the full effort as opposed to just “good enough.”
The use of animals makes the story more entertaining for children because it adds a sense of fantasy and simplicity by using non-human characters. Non-human characters are more relatable and flexible as a tool for storytelling because the author can make them do whatever he pleases. Having pigs be the main characters also makes the kids more invested in the story since talking pigs with houses are unusual and new to them. I think the use of three is also important to note as it is a prominent number in storytelling. Having a trio creates a pattern making the story more memorable and emphasizes an idea.
“The story goes that a family… they were getting ready for their first child’s baptism and first birthday. So, the family invited many people to the party and had decided to serve a whole roasted pig. A week prior to the baptism/party, the family had gotten a really fat and big pig. That whole week they fed the pig lots of food in order to get it bigger and more fat. The day before the party and before the pig was to be killed, the family starved the pig. I am not sure why, maybe to cleanse it or something. Well the pig was used to eating lots of food, so it was really hungry that whole day and night. The next morning which was the day of the baptism/party, the father went outside to kill the pig, but the pig was gone. He called his wife out and she then noticed dirty prints on their house floor. The father and mother followed the prints into their child’s crib, they screamed and were horrified to see the pig eating their child. The pig stared at the parents and its eyes were blood red.”
The informant is a 77-year-old Spanish speaking woman, born in Mexico. She first this story as a child and would then tell it to her children and grandchildren. She believes the pig was possessed by the devil, that the pig was evil from the beginning.
This story is a twist on the cruelty we inflict on pigs when we kill them for food. I believe that this story helps people come to terms with why we should kill pigs and eat them. If pigs could they would inflict the same pain to humans. In some ways this idea of the pig eating us makes us feel better about why we eat them.
She was an elderly who came to the U.S. in the early 1990s. Although Christian, she says she still believes in this superstition a little bit.
돼지 꿈구면 행운이다.
돼지는 한국에서, 이 뭐냐, 돈이야. 옛잘에 모든 사업 아니면 일하는분들은 돼지머리를 잘라서 절을 하는거야. 절하다가 코에다가 돈 집어넣고, 입에도 넣고, 귀에다 넣고, 아므튼 늘수있는데에다 넣는거야.
If you dream of a pig it’s good luck.
Long ago, a pig is a form of income. It is equal to money or wealth. People who ran businesses or stores would cut off a pig’s head, lay it on a table, and bow down to it. While bowing down, as a sign of worship, they would stick money in its nose, mouth, ears, anywhere on the head that they could. They did this so that they would succeed and become rich.
“A dream about a pig is a very good sign promising riches.”
My informant first heard about this superstition from her mother when she was about eight years old, living in Pusan, Korea. Her mother told her that pigs were a welcoming sign because it would mean the household would flourish with wealth. That is why dreams with pigs in it were always a delight in Korea. Her mother was discussing that if she married a man with the Chinese sign of a pig, she would most likely live in riches. My informant also told me that many people are carefully strategizing to become pregnant in the year 2007 because this is the year of the Golden Pig in the Chinese calendar. The Golden Pig is unique to the ordinary pig sign because it only comes once in a thousand years. People believe that if they are to bear a child in the year of the Golden Pig, that child will bring propitious results.
I am not surprised pigs are considered the signs of wealth in Korea because of the nature of the animal. Pigs are stereotypically obese, food-grubbing, and filthily self-indulgent. Having a dream about a pig reminds the dreamer about his or her self-indulgences or greed. Since most people are in a great desire for more money, the pig’s self-indulgence for food would mean indulgence in money for people. Pigs also provide very good meat, pork. Therefore pigs can conjure the image of meatiness, sufficiency, and fullness.