How We Got the Name “Spider Tales”:
It’s interesting that Anansi (Spider) isn’t really personified as an atual, eight-legged spider. It’s almost as if he has a human form but represents spiders. How else could he take “an earthen vessel” with him on a trip?
The clever way that Anansi traps the bees reminds me of the story about the Tiger, the Jackal, and the Brahman that we read in the first unit. I like that it plays off the pride of the targets; it’s always clever to use your enemy’s weaknesses against them rather than using brute force.
I really like how this set of stories begins with the “main character” forcing himself into being the main character. It’s actually very comedic to imagine!
How Wisdom Became the Property of the Human Race:
This sounds like it will be a Pandora’s Box kind of story.
I wonder if Anansi’s character traits will change in every story as it seems they have changed here. In the first story, Anansi was clever, cunning, and perhaps a little vain. In this story, he’s less of a mischievous trickster and more of a wise old man.
Thunder and Anansi:
I wonder what kinds of foods Anansi got from the pot. I’m not very familiar with African foods, but food seems to be a central part of the culture, as it has appeared in nearly all of the stories.
In this story, Anansi is very selfish and doesn’t seem to care much for his family. I wonder why his family isn’t described much at all. His wife is not given a name, and we don’t know anything about his children.
Kweku Tsin has appeared in two stories now as Anansi’s son, so there is some consistency to the stories. Kweku is as clever as his father but seems to be wiser about using that cunning.
“Anansi returned, ready for his supper, and, as usual, went into his room, carefully shutting the door. He went to the hiding-place—it was empty.” The narrative pace slows down here as Anansi looks for the pot. This helps to build the tension in the story.
Why the Lizard Moves His Head Up and Down:
I’ve always liked the trope of names being an important part of a person’s identity, so I like seeing that in the naming challenge in this story.
Tit for Tat:
Kweku has caught onto his father’s antics, and it’s kind of amusing to imagine such a father/son relationship.
These stories always describe in great detail the traps and methods that Anasi uses: he coats fruit in honey to surprise the princesses, he fills Kweku’s bag with ashes. He’s also very good at persuading people to listen to him, such as in the first story, he persuaded the snake to get near the stick and the tiger to want his eyes sewn up. He also convinced Nothing to trade clothes with him. I like the details, as it makes the stories more realistic and easy to imagine.
West African Folktales by William H. Barker and Cecilia Sinclair with drawings by Cecilia Sinclair (1917). Web source.
Image 1: Landscape from Guinea in West Africa. Source – Pxhere
Image 2: A common spider from Gambia. (Also, Googling “African spider” was a big mistake. *shiver*) Source – Wikipedia.
Image 3: A big lizard. Source – Pxhere
Image 4: A map of West Africa. Source – Wikipedia.