1.3 Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Compare and Contrast Folktales

A folktale is a traditional story that has been handed down through the generations. Many folktales have a trickster as the main character. The trickster character tricks other characters to get what he or she wants. Sometimes, though, the trickster gets tricked. The theme of a folktale is often expressed as a moral, or lesson.

Read the folktales below and see how to compare and contrast their topics, patterns of events, and themes.

The Story of Anansi the Spider

Anansi the spider was greedy. One day, Turtle came to visit as Anansi was about to eat his dinner.

“What a nice dinner!” said Turtle. To be polite, Anansi had to offer to share the food. Still, he did not want to.

“You can join me,” said Anansi. “But first, clean your hands.” Turtle’s hands were dirty. He went to the river and washed. When he came back, Anansi had started to eat.

“Your hands are still dirty!” Anansi said.

Turtle looked down. On his way back, he had walked through mud. So he went and washed again. When he returned, he found that Anansi had eaten all the food.

“Tomorrow you must come to my house to share my dinner,” said Turtle.

The next day, a hungry Anansi met Turtle at the river. Turtle dove into the water to his home on the river bottom. Anansi jumped into the water and tried to swim down, but he was too light. Then, Anansi put stones in his pockets and sank down to Turtle’s home. Turtle had started to eat.

Turtle looked at Anansi and said, “It is not polite to eat with your coat on. You must take it off.” Anansi took off his coat. Without the stones, he was light again. He floated up to the surface. From there, he watched Turtle finish his meal.


The Tale of Coyote and Hen

One day, Coyote came upon Hen. She was sitting on a tree branch. Coyote was hungry. He decided that he would eat Hen. But how could he reach her? She was much too high in the tree. Coyote thought and thought. Then he had an idea.

“Oh, Hen,” he sighed. “I am so happy! I bring great news.” She was interested, but she did not trust Coyote. “A treaty has been signed,” said Coyote. “All the animals have signed it. It says that we are all friends now. There will be no more fighting! Please come down from the tree. I am so happy. I would like to give you a big hug.”

“Ah,” thought Hen. Now she knew what Coyote was up to.

“I would love to,” said Hen. “But I see that someone else is coming.”

“Really?” asked Coyote. “Who is it?”

“It is Dog,” said Hen. Coyote began to shake. Dog scared him.

“He must have heard the news, too,” said Hen. “He looks so happy! His eyes are bright and he is so fast. I think he wants to hug you.”

Coyote took off running as fast as he could. Up in the tree, Hen smiled.


Click below to compare the topics, patterns of events, and themes of the folktales.

If you have finished comparing and contrasting folktales, click to practice on your own.

To learn how to compare and contrast topics, patterns of events, and themes in other types of stories, click to go back to the main page.