WHAT IS A FOLKTALE?
- A story passed on from generation to generation.
- Shared orally.
- No known author. Over time the tale probably was:
- Added to
- Subtracted from
- Particular to the culture of its place of origin.
- General because the issues dealt with — food, shelter, clothing, entertainment, are the same everywhere.
- The vehicle for carrying forward the traditions and values of a people.
- So, folktales are universal stories affording us glimpses of other lives, moving us to a reflection on the similarity between these other lives and ours.
THE WHY OF FOLKTALES?
- Entertainment. Imagine hunter/gathers coming together around the fire at the end of a long day, to share their experiences. Gradually these oft-repeated experiences became stories that the storyteller would tell, and they took on another purpose too:
- Education. Why reinvent the wheel? The stories told of the dangers, the best and the worst places and the best and worst times and seasons to hunt and to gather. Folktales are repositories of the collective wisdom of the people.
- Explanation: In the very beginning the world was a new and often mystifying place. Stories explained why things were the way they were. Origin/creation tales are an example.: why the earth is round, or the sky is blue, or the turtle is slow. There is a tale to explain almost every natural phenomenon.