The Tiger, the Man and the Jackal

play by Pauline Cartwright, based on an Indian folktale , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to compare traditional stories from different cultures so that I can explain how their similarities can be attributed to the context of composition.

Success Criteria:

  • I can explain the features and the purpose of folklores and fables.
  • I can compare and contrast stories from different cultures (Ancient India and Ancient Greece).
  • I can link parts of a traditional story to the context of its composition (purpose, audience, mode and medium).

Essential knowledge:

More information about how the concept of context should be taught in Stage Two can be found on the English Teachers Association’s Textual Concepts website on Context.

Before reading the text, draw students’ attention to the byline. After the author’s name it says: “based on an Indian folktale”. Ask students if they have heard of the word folktale.

Provide students with the characteristics of a folktale. (Suggested resource: Collins dictionary entry for folktale.)

  • Tale or legend that is traditional among a group of people.
  • Often passed down through oral retelling.
  • Usually, the original author is unknown.

Explain that a common type of story that is very similar to a folktale is a fable. Remind students that a story needs a moral or a lesson to be a fable. Therefore, the purpose of fables is to be educational. Also, fables often include animals with human behaviours and characteristics. Generate a class list of fables that they know. Some may include: The Three Little Pigs, The Tortoise and the Hare and Tiddalick the Frog.

Read a fable attributed to Aesop with the class. There are many versions of fables written as Readers Theatre, should you wish to present the story in a similar medium to The School Magazine text. (Suggested resource: The Lion and the Mouse from the Library of Congress.) After reading, ask students to identify the key features of a fable within this text. You may wish to structure this like a checklist. For example:

Feature In the story? Example
Short and basic without a lot of detail about the characters
Moral lesson
Good and bad character
Usually, animals
Short story and fun to read

After reading, explain to students that Aesop is probably the most famous author of fables. You may wish to let students know that not much is known about Aesop. He was alive thousands of years ago and may have been from Ancient Greece or Ethiopia.

Discuss the context of composition of Aesop’s fables by exploring the following features:

  • Purpose: to educate people about moral issues; to teach right from wrong.
  • Audience: children, which is why the characters are mostly animals.
  • Mode/medium: originally passed down from person to person, then written down.

Next, read ‘The Tiger, the Man and the Jackal’ with the class. As this is a complex story, you then may want to listen to another version of the story, such as the written/audio version, The Brahman, the Tiger and the Jackal. Instruct students to complete the same checklist. Notice that students may have more difficulty identifying the moral or lesson of this story. Also, the characters are harder to divide into good and bad. For example, is the Jackal good or bad for locking the tiger back into the cage?

Explain that this story is more clearly a folktale than a fable as it doesn’t have an obvious moral. To conclude the activity, compare the context of this text’s composition to the fables of Aesop:

  • Purpose: to provoke discussion about moral issues; so that people consider things that are right, wrong and maybe things in between.
  • Audience: children would enjoy this story, but so would adults as they can discuss the meaning in more detail.
  • Mode/medium: like fables, originally passed down from person to person, then written down.