Jamaican Stories

Week 8: African Traditions - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

Knives and Spoons

Reading time: 3 minutes. Word Count: 300 words

You have already met the motif of knives and spoons before: remember when Anansi pretended that he couldn't use a knife and fork, and Lion had to show him how? (big mistake for Lion!)

Throwing away Knives (Benjamin Collins, Mandeville)

Once upon a time Brer Tiger an' Brer Anansi was gwine on. Brer Anansi tell Brer Tiger says, "Brer Tiger, I'm gwine to t'row away my knife an' when you see I t'row away mine, you mus' t'row away yours, too." Brer Anansi tak somet'ing an' t'row it away, an' Brer Tiger tak his knife an' t'row it away. An' when dem reach de fiel' to eat pine, deh comes Brer Nansi had his knife, he was eating pine, an 'Brer Tiger didn't get none. Brer Nansi say to Brer Tiger, "Brer Tiger, no man a knife nyam pine; no man no have knife no nyam pine!"

Throwing away Spoons (William Forbes, Dry River, Cock-pit country)

Mr. Anansi an' Mr. Sheep going out walking over de country. Carry two spoon; Sheep carry one, Anansi carry one. Anansi tell Sheep, "Mr. Sheep, lef' you spoon here, don' carry it." Den go to de second house an' get some breakfas' again. After him get de breakfas' him say, "Mr. Sheep, where you spoon?" An' said, "Don't you tell me to lef' it at de firs' house?"--"You mus' go back for it now!" Mr. Sheep gone for it, him eat off all de breakfas'.

An' said, "Come, Mr. Sheep, but you mus' let' you spoon."--"Me won't carry it at all." Den go up to de nex't yard an' get dinner now. Night is coming. An' said, "Mr. Sheep, where is you' 'poon?" An' said, "I lef' it at de las' yard you eat." Well, den, Sheep have to go back fe his spoon again; tell Sheep come back again an' Anansi eat off de dinner. Sheep couldn't get not'ing to eat.

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • how did Anansi trick Tiger into throwing away his knife?
  • what could Anansi eat that Tiger couldn't?
  • how did Anansi trick the Sheep out of both breakfast and dinner?

Source: Jamaica Anansi Stories by Martha Warren Beckwith (1924). Weblink.

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM