“So this is a classic Panchatantra story my mother would read to me as a kid. So one day, a worker was cutting a big log in half, but when lunchtime came and he wasn’t finished cutting the log in half, he put a wedge between the two sides of the log so that it wouldn’t close up. But then a monkey came down to the log to play, and once he got curious about the wedge, he pulled the wedge out of the log while he was between the two sides of the log that the worker was cutting, and now, with the wedge gone, the log closed up and crushed the monkey. It’s kind of a dark story, because I think that would kill the monkey, but I don’t ever remember him dying in the story when I was growing up, so I don’t know what’s true and what isn’t.”
This is a really interesting story because the informant is right: the log closing up would definitely kill the monkey, but because the informant was a child when his mother read it to him before bed, his mother most likely left out that part, as it would be hard for a child to fall asleep after hearing that. I think this speaks to the inherent nature of folklore, that it has multiplicity and variation. Folklore can go through countless adjustments as time wears on, and a mother adjusting a story for their child so it’s more kid-friendly is just one of the many ways folklore could undergo change.