Uncle Remus and Bre'r Rabbit

Week 14: American Tales - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images


Reading time: (4 minutes)

Here is another story about an animal who gets away - this time, the story is about how Brer Tarrypin (the turtle) gets away from Brer Fox. Brer Fox is angry at Brer Tarrypin because of an earlier incident at the house of Miss Meadows: Brer Tarrypin fell on top of Brer Fox's head and knocked him out. In order to get his revenge, Brer Fox uses a great little trick to catch Brer Tarrypin: if he could just get Brer Tarrypin to stick his tail out of the shell, Brer Fox could reach out and grab it...

ONE day, said Uncle Remus, sharpening his knife on the palm of his hand -

One day Brer Fox strike up wid Brer Tarrypin right in de middle er de big road. Brer Tarrypin done heerd 'im comm', en he low ter hissef dat he'd sorter keep one eye open; but Brer Fox wuz monstus perlite, en he open up de confab, he did, like he ain't see Brer Tarrypin sence de las' freshit.

"Heyo, Brer Tarrypin, whar you bin dis long-come-short?" sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Lounjun 'roun', Brer Fox, lounjun 'roun'," sez Brer Tarrypin.

"You don't look sprucy like you did, Brer Tarrypin," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Lounjun 'roun' en suffer'n", sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.

Den de talk sorter run on like dis: "W'at ail you, Brer Tarrypin? Yo' eye look mighty red," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Lor', Brer Fox, you dunner w'at trubble is. You ain't bin lounjun 'roun' en suffer'n'," sez Brer Tarry-pin, sezee.

"Bofe eyes red, en you look like you mighty weak, Brer Tarrypin," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Lor', Brer Fox, you dunner w'at trubble is," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.

"W'at ail you now, Brer Tarrypin?" sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Tuck a walk de udder day, en man come long en sot de fiel' a-fier. Lor', Brer Fox, you dunner w'at trubble is," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.

"How you git out de fier, Brer Tarrypin?" sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Sot en tuck it, Brer Fox," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee. "Sot en tuck it, en de smoke sif' in my eye, en de fier scorch my back," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.

"Likewise hit bu'n yo' tail off," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Oh, no, dar's de tail, Brer Fox," sez Brer Tarry-pin, sezee, en wid dat he oncurl his tail fum under de shell, en no sooner did he do dat dan Brer Fox grab it, en holler out: "Oh, yes, Brer Tarrypin! Oh, yes! En so youer de man w'at lam me on de head at Miss Meadows's is you? Youer in wid Brer Rabbit, is you? Well, I'm gwineter out you."

Brer Tarrypin beg en beg, but 'twan't no use. Brer Fox done been fool so much dat he look like he termin' fer ter have Brer Tarrypin haslett. Den Brer Tarrypin beg Brer Fox not fer ter drown 'im, but Brer Fox ain't makin' no prommus, en den he beg Brer Fox fer ter bu'n' 'im, kase he done useter fier, but Brer Fox don't say nuttun'.

Bimeby Brer Fox drag Brer Tarrypin off little ways blow de spring-'ouse, en souze him under de water. Den Brer Tarrypin begin fer ter holler: "Tu'n loose dat stump root en ketch holt er me - tu'n loose dat stump root en ketch holt er me."

Brer Fox he holler back: "I ain't got holt er no stump root, en I is got holt er you."

Brer Tarrypin he keep on holler'n: "Ketch holt er me - I'm a drownin' - I'm a drownin'-tu'n loose de stump root en ketch holt er me."

Sho nuff, Brer Fox tu'n loose de tail, en Brer Tarrypin, he went down ter de bottom - kerblunkity-blink!

No typographical combination or description could do justice to the guttural sonorousness - the peculiar intonation - which Uncle Remus imparted to this combination. It was so peculiar, indeed, that the little boy asked: "How did he go to the bottom, Uncle Remus?"


"Was he drowned, Uncle Remus?"

"Who? Ole man Tarrypin? Is you drowndid w'en yo' ma tucks you in de bed?"

"Well, no," replied the little boy, dubiously.

"Ole man Tarrypin 'wuz at home I tell you, honey. Kerblinkity-blunk!"

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

  • what kind of lies was Brer Terrapin telling Brer Fox?
  • how did Brer Fox trick Brer Terrapin into showing his tail so he could grab it?
  • how did Brer Terrapin manage to escape from Brer Fox?

Source: Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings by Joel Chandler Harris (1881).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