The Frog and the Well

“This is my translation of the tale, which is normally told in Chinese. In the story, there is a frog who has lived its whole life in this one well. It sees a little piece of the sky everyday and thinks that it knows everything about the world. One day, a human lifts it out of the well and the frog is shocked by the world around it. All of its life, it thought that the sky above was all there was to the world. It was naive. Now that it has been exposed to the world, it realizes how naive it was.”

The informant is a student at USC, who is double majoring in Biology and Psychology and planning to enter medical school in the Fall of 2012. We’ve shared a number of science courses together, and we often meet on a number of occasions to talk about school and life issues. A big part of her driving force has stemmed from the morals she’s been taught as a little girl. Being part of a Chinese school during her early childhood has allowed her to understand the customs and beliefs that are unique to that culture. She learned to speak the Mandarin language as well as morals, which can apply to one’s life at any point in time, whether it be when advancing through college or overcoming adversities. She informed me that she learned “The Frog and the Well” story during third grade from her Chinese school teacher. It really meant a lot to her, because it applied to numerous events of her life. The informant felt that the frog resembled herself in a way before she entered college. She told me that she was born and raised in a really small town for eighteen years. Thereafter, she moved to Los Angeles, where she seemed to learn much more about the world and herself.

One restriction is that the informant could not recite the tale in Mandarin, because she could not remember exactly how it is performed. Therefore, the informant provided a translated version in English.

Not only does this piece apply to college, but it is relevant to most instances that we experience throughout our lifetimes. This folk piece shows some multiplicity in variation as we look at other cultures who use similar moral tales for the purpose of pedagogy. The fact that there are variations to this piece demonstrates that most ethnic groups emphasize the importance of instilling a similar morale upon the members of there respective culture. It delineates between reality and fantasy. For example, children are typically sheltered by their parents from the evils and hardships that occur as a result of independence. When children grow up and enter college, they enter a liminal phase between being sheltered as a dependent and reality where they are bound to experience hardships that comes with adulthood and independence.