The Elephant and the Hare

SP is a first generation Korean American who was born in Anaheim but moved to and lived in Nairobi, Kenya for 15 years. She is a third culture kid and went to an international school there. Currently she is an International Relations major at USC.

“There once was an elephant herd carrying heavy sacks of something, I don’t know, across great distances and a young hare and her father found them and discovered that they were carrying honey in their sacks. This particular hare freaking loved honey and hopped up on one of the elephants and started eating the crap out of that sack and eventually emptied all of the honey into her mouth. But in order to trick the elephant, she asked her father, who was like I guess jumping along on the ground with her, to throw up a stone so that she could replace the honey with that in the sack and it would still feel heavy, you know. And she continued to do with like the next three sacks and kept asking for more stones from her dad and she felt so smart. After the elephants arrived at their destination, that one elephant that got robbed – gg – found out that there were only stones in all of his sacks/bundles and he was like “NOOOO this hare tricked me and stole all my honey and I just thought I was giving her a ride.” So he quickly turned around and saw her and started chasing her, but she jumped into a hole in the ground, right? And he actually caught a piece of her leg I think? But missed and like skinned off her skin as she escaped. Here there’s a small gap in the story because I can’t exactly remember what happened but basically the hare gets away and finds lots of other hares. Being smart, she convinces them “Hey, there’s an elephant here looking to reward any hares with skinned tails” IT WAS TAILS, IT WAS NOT THE LEGS. So they all skinned their tails and then when the big ol’ dumb elephant came along, he was like “Yo I’m looking for a hare with a skinned tail up in here” and they were all like “OH but bro, we all have skinned tails” and he had this big moment where he was like “OH NO THE HARE TRICKED ME AGAIN, even though I thought I was fast enough to catch her, she tricked by disguising herself among all these other hares and now they all look the same!” And that’s the lesson of how brains beat brawn.”

My informant said learned about this story from reading about it in a children’s book in her elementary school library.

When my informant said she was going to tell me the story of the “elephant and the hare,” my first reaction was that it was probably going to be another oikotype of the tortoise and the hare. However, after hearing the story, I quickly realized that the two were nothing alike. In this story the hare is clever and devious, and although the ultimate moral is that brains beat brawn, it also has an underlying message that as long as you are clever enough, you can manage to get away with anything. I found this pretty unconventional, especially compared to Western tales that teach character lessons.