Back to motif List page

Back to Thompson motifs main page

Back to Masa Site

Back to Hebrew Masa site

 

Search the database


Next group

Prevuius group

Group No. 150


Letter

J. The wise and the foolish

Group No.

J2450 – J2499

Group name

Literal fools

Description

J2450. J2450. Literal fool.
 
J2460. J2460. Literal obedience. Gaster Oldest Stories 167; India: *Thompson-Balys; Indonesia: DeVries‘s list No. 282.
 
J2460.1. J2460.1. Disastrous following of misunderstood instructions. (To burn land, then sow seed. Opposite done.) Chinese: Graham.
 
J2461. J2461. What should I have done (said)? The mother teaches the boy (the man his wife) what he should say (do) in this or that circumstance. He uses the words in the most impossible cases and is always punished. *Type 1696; *BP I 315, III 145; *Taylor JAFL XLVI 78 No. 1696; **Haavio FFC LXXXVIII 94ff.; *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin I 251f. No. 169; *Fb ”tosse“ III 831b; Lithuanian: Balys Index Nos. 1691*, 1691A*; Spanish: Boggs FFC XC No. 1363A; Chinese: Eberhard FFC CXX 286; India: *Thompson-Balys; Japanese: Ikeda; Indonesia: Coster-Wijsman 54ff. Nos. 79 – 82; Africa: Werner African 217f.
 
J2461.1. J2461.1. Literal following of instructions about actions.
 
J2461.1.1. J2461.1.1. Literal numskull drags jar (bacon) on string. He has sent a pig home alone. Told that he should have led it by a string. *Type 1696; Fb ”potte“ II 867a; *BP I 315; Spanish: Boggs FFC XC 141 No. 1703, Espinosa III 147.
 
J2461.1.2. J2461.1.2. Literal numskull is gay at a fire. He has wept at a wedding and been told to be gay. Clouston Noodles 130; India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.1.2.1. J2461.1.2.1. Literal numskull sings entertaining songs on approach of death. India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.1.3. J2461.1.3. Literal numskull throws water on roasting pig. Told that he should have thrown water in the fire when the house burnt. Clouston Noodles 130.
 
J2461.1.4. J2461.1.4. Literal numskull cuts peas into four parts. Told that he should have cut up the pancakes which he has eaten whole. Wesselski Bebel I 128 No. 27.
 
J2461.1.4.1. J2461.1.4.1. Literal fool is told to cook a few peas for five persons. Cooks five peas. Next time he is told to cook an abundance. Cooks half-bushel. Italian Novella: Rotunda.
 
J2461.1.4.2. J2461.1.4.2. Literal fool puts three empty measures in pot. Told to put in three measures of rice to boil. India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.1.5. J2461.1.5. Literal fool strangles the hawk. On last trip he has lost the gloves and has been told that he should have put them in his bosom. He puts the hawk inside his shirt. *Type 1696; *BP I 315; *Wesselski Bebel I 128 No. 26; *Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 762.
 
J2461.1.6. J2461.1.6. Literal fool carries the harrow in his hand. He has killed a sparrow by his stupidity and has been told that he should have carried it in his hand. *Type 1696; *BP I 315; *Wesselski Bebel I 128 No. 26.
 
J2461.1.7. J2461.1.7. Numskull told to steal something heavy brings millstone. India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.1.7.1. J2461.1.7.1. Numskull as thief: tries to carry off grinding-stone when told by confederates to bring out heavy things. Told to bring shiny things; brings out looking glass. India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.1.8. J2461.1.8. Literal numskull destroys inherited property since his sister has instructions not to object to his actions. Africa (Hausa): Mischlich 164ff. No. 22 (=Frobenius Atlantis IX 277ff., 287ff., Nos. 74, 75).
 
J2461.2. J2461.2. Literal following of instructions about greetings. Numskull gives wrong greeting and is told how to give the correct one. When he tries it, however, the conditions are wrong. *Type 1696; *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin I 251f. No. 169; Missouri French: Carrière; India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.2.1. J2461.2.1. Literal numskull kisses a pig. Told that he should have kissed the old woman. *Type 1696; *BP III 145.
 
J2461.2.2. J2461.2.2. Fool learns to repeat commonplace expressions: by chance thus scares off wife’s suitors. Chinese: Graham.
 
J2461.3. J2461.3. Literal numskull laughs at his child‘s death. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.4. J2461.4. Master tells servant (sarcastically) to take a year to do errand. Servant stays away a year and then returns to claim salary. Italian Novella: Rotunda.
 
J2461.5. J2461.5. Numskull told not to forget to get the handsel (a little token extra in the bargain); brings it but leaves what he has been sent to buy. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.6. J2461.6. Literal fool: fool told to follow his nose in a journey, runs head against tree, climbs it. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.7. J2461.7. To sell some cloth for four rupees. Fool refuses to take six rupees for it. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.8. J2461.8. Asking favor when master is in good humor. Fool waits till master is laughing at servant’s stupidity. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2461.9. J2461.9. Numskull told to attract girl‘s attention by throwing pebble at her flings large stone which breaks her head. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2462. J2462. Foolish bridegroom follows instructions literally. *Type 1685; *BP I 311; *Fb ”brud“ IV 64b; Gaster Oldest Stories 167; U.S.: Baughman; Italian Novella: Rotunda; India: *Thompson-Balys; Japanese: Ikeda.
 
J2462.1. J2462.1. The dog Parsley in the soup. The foolish bridegroom is told to put parsley in the soup. He throws in his dog, which is named Parsley. *Type 1685; *BP I 311; Köhler-Bolte I 65; Lithuanian: Balys Index No. *1006A; Russian: Andrejev No. *1012 II.
 
J2462.2. J2462.2. Casting sheep’s eyes at the bride. The foolish bridegroom is told to cast sheep‘s eyes at the bride. He buys some at the butcher shop and throws them at her. *Type 1685; *BP I 311; *Fb ”øje“ III 1166a; *Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 762; Spanish: Espinosa III 147.
 
J2462.3. J2462.3. Foolish husband puts out wife‘s eyes at night because he heard that a beautiful wife is an enemy. India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2463. J2463. The foolish bride.
 
J2463.1. J2463.1. Foolish bride gives away dowry. While her parents are away from home, a matchmaker and a suitor come to the foolish girl. By following her mother’s advice literally, she gives away her dower to the tricksters. Lithuanian: Balys Index No. *1463.
 
J2463.2. J2463.2. Marrying a stranger. The girl shortly to be married complains: ”It was all very well for you, mother, to marry father, but I am to marry a complete stranger.“ Lithuanian: Balys Index No. *1468; Russian: Andrejev No. *2078A; India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2464. J2464. The servant to improve on the master‘s statements. The wooer makes boasts to the girl and the servant always doubles the master’s boast. Finally the master says, ”I have poor eyesight.“ – The servant, ”You don‘t see at all.“ (Or the master coughs and apologizes; the servant says that he coughs all night.) *Type 1688; *Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 221; Scala Celi 126b No. 688; Bolte Zs. f. Vksk. IX 88 No. 46; French Canadian: Barbeau JAFL XXIX 24.
 
J2465. J2465. Disastrous following of instructions.
 
J2465.1. J2465.1. Feeding the pigs wet meal. The wife throws the meal into the well and the pigs after it. Field Pent Cuckoo 16.
 
J2465.1.1. J2465.1.1. Watering the cow (by pouring water on it). India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2465.2. J2465.2. Piling up the pottery. The woman breaks the pots into fragments and piles them up. Type 1371*.
 
J2465.3. J2465.3. Feeding the child. Fool feeds it steaming food and kills it. *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin II 212 No. 431.
 
J2465.3.1. J2465.3.1. Shoving the child. Numskulls, told to shove the boy along if he is lazy about weeding, do so with their weeding-knives and kill him. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2465.3.2. J2465.3.2. Feeding mother. Fool stuffs and kills her. Espinosa: JAFL XXVII 119.
 
J2465.4. J2465.4. Washing the child. Fool uses boiling water and kills it. *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin II 212 No. 431.
 
J2465.4.1. J2465.4.1. Heating water for woman to wash in. Boiling water poured over her. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2465.5. J2465.5. Clearing out the room. Fool throws out all the furniture. *Type 1685; Italian Novella: Rotunda.
 
J2465.6. J2465.6. Washing the room. Fool floods it. Norwegian: Christiansen Norske Eventyr 142.
 
J2465.7. J2465.7. Oh bother! put it on my head! Numskulls asking old woman where to put grain obey and smother her. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2465.8. J2465.8. Cutting at the plow. Literal fool told to cut at plow if it sticks on roots cuts at bullock’s legs. India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2465.9. J2465.9. ”Sew shirts for servants.“ Fool sews them to trees. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2465.10. J2465.10. ”Collect goats under tree.“ Fool piles up their carcasses. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2465.11. J2465.11. Fool takes threat to child as an order. Cuts off child‘s ears. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2465.12. J2465.12. Plowing above the tree. Told to plow above a certain tree (on the hillside), numskulls haul oxen and plow into tree and destroy them. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2465.13. J2465.13. ”Plowing out potatoes.“ Fool plows them out of ground. North Carolina: Brown Collection I 698.
 
J2466. J2466. Literal following of the count.
 
J2466.1. J2466.1. A pebble for each sin. A man cannot remember the number of his sins. The priest has him put a pebble in a sack for each of his sins. He comes to confession with three large sacks of pebbles. Type 1848*.
 
J2466.2. J2466.2. The reckoning of the pot. A man counts the days of the fastmonth by throwing a pebble each day into a pot. His daughter throws a handful of pebbles in. Asked the day of the month, he says that it is the 125th. *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin I 207 No. 9.
 
J2466.3. J2466.3. The long day. If the clock is still striking it must be 50 o’clock. *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin I 207 No. 9; Scotland, U.S.: Baughman.
 
J2469. J2469. Instructions followed literally – miscellaneous.
 
J2469.1. J2469.1. A lentil in the soup. You said you wished a lentil soup; so I put one in. If you had wished more lentils you should have said so. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 605.
 
J2469.2. J2469.2. Taking the prescription. The fool eats the paper with the prescription on it. Clouston Noodles 119.
 
J2469.3. J2469.3. Dividing all they have. So advised, they cut their beds, houses, etc. in two. (Cf. M241.) Penzer V 114 n. 1.
 
J2469.3.1. J2469.3.1. Man gives up half property. Slave cut in two. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2469.4. J2469.4. Boy asked to do something to cool women‘s ears breaks vessels they carry so milk in them can cool their ears off. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2469.5. J2469.5. Literal fool – something you have never experienced.
 
J2469.5.1. J2469.5.1. Literal fool feeds dogflesh to visitor to follow father’s advice: ”Feed him on food you have never eaten in your life.“ India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2469.5.2. J2469.5.2. Literal obedience: soldier breaks woman‘s oil pot in two with sword when she asks him to show her something she never has seen in life. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2470. J2470. Metaphors literally interpreted. India: *Thompson-Balys; N. A. Indian (Wyandot): Barbeau GSCan XI 224 No. 68.
 
J2471. J2471. ”Taking a pattern (picture) of conduct“ from other people. Fool steals a picture from the church. Wesselski Bebel I 128 No. 27.
 
J2472. J2472. ”Skinning farmers“. A master tells his servant that he is going to skin some farmers (i.e., cheat them). When a farmer inquires for a tanner, the servant directs him to his master. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 720.
 
J2473. J2473. Peasant opens his mouth. He tells his wife about the good things he gets to eat at the rich man‘s house. The wife says, ”Open your mouth for me once so that I may get some too.“ The peasant gets up after the next large meal and opens his mouth to the astonishment of all present. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 519.
 
J2474. J2474. The hunter’s mass. A count instructs his chaplain to read a hunter‘s mass (i.e., a short one). The chaplain searches the prayerbook in vain for a hunter’s mass. *Wesselski Bebel I 175 No. 19.
 
J2475. J2475. ”Greasing the judge‘s palms.“ The woman puts butter on his hands. *Crane Vitry 149 No. 38; *Herbert III 68; Hervieux IV 301 No. 93; *Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 124; *Krappe Bulletin Hispanique XXXIX 22; Spanish Exempla: Keller.
 
J2476. J2476. The literal host: bread and salt. Guest finds that his host spoke literally when he invited him to share his bread and salt. Later, when the host threatens an importunate beggar, the guest advises the beggar to flee since the host means what he says. *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin II 240 No. 532.
 
J2477. J2477. Christ has too many debts. St. Peter is to give Christ to a woman as husband. She hears people say, when they are asked for money, ”When Christ pays me, I will pay you.“ The woman says that Christ has too many debts. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 657; Irish: Beal XXI 305.
 
J2478. J2478. The numskull buys water at market. He looks at bread. The merchant: ”It is as good as butter.“ He decides on butter. The merchant: ”It is as sweet as oil.“ He decides on oil. The merchant: ”It is as clear as water.“ He decides on water. *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin II 241 No. 536.
 
J2481. J2481. The horse that went like a ship. Men have been assured that a horse will ”go like a ship“. When they spur the horse, it will not move. A man takes a pole and hits the horse. It goes. ”See, it goes like a ship. It is started by a pole, not by spurs.“ *Wesselski Arlotto I 188 No. 9.
 
J2482. J2482. The fool is told that his son has given up the ghost. He wonders. He didn’t know that the son had a ghost to give up. *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin I 250 No. 166.
 
J2483. J2483. The house without food or drink. A fool and his son meet women mourning a dead man. ”He goes to the place where there is darkness and nothing to eat or drink.“ The son: ”They must be coming to our house.“ *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin I 262 No. 229; India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2484. J2484. Father tells son that he has been scratched by ”hairy rascals“ (monkeys). Son attacks hairy ascetics. Penzer V 140.
 
J2485. J2485. What is behind you. Woman tells husband she has cooked what is behind him. He sees the door there and tries to cook it. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2488. J2488. Numskull wants to see an abstract quality.
 
J2488.1. J2488.1. Numskull dragon wants to see courage. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2488.2. J2488.2. Sultan tries to prove to Adversity he cannot be seized at specified time and hides in a sewer. He thus experiences adversity in his very effort to avoid it. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489. J2489. Metaphors literally interpreted – miscellaneous.
 
J2489.1. J2489.1. Fool interprets metaphors (or slang expressions) about drink. U.S.: *Baughman.
 
J2489.2. J2489.2. ”Keep locks of everyone in your hand“ (keep control of them). Fool interprets literally. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.3. J2489.3. ”Bite the ear“ (speak secretly). Fool interprets literally. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.4. J2489.4. ”Cutting the paper of the accounts“ (falsifying accounts). Fool cuts up account books. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.5. J2489.5. ”Quieting the patient.“ Fool does so by killing. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.6. J2489.6. Giving half of savings away: ”Whoever gives charity gets double in return.“ India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.7. J2489.7. ”Have a black look“ (i.e., frown). Fool blackens face with charcoal. India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.8. J2489.8. ”Cover with straw.“ Fool covers his mistress with straw and suffocates her. Should have thatched roof. India: *Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.9. J2489.9. ”Stick fast to everything you undertake.“ Foolish son seizes an ass by tail and gets kicked. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.10. J2489.10. Payment with ”something or other.“ Offered money, fools insist on ”something or other.“ India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.11. J2489.11. ”Don‘t allow paint to wear off my daughter’s feet.“ Bridegroom carries her upside down across river and drowns her. (Cf. J2412.6.) India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.12. J2489.12. Making money. ”Rupees make more rupees.“ Stupid peasant sticks his sole rupee in hole and loses it. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2489.13. J2489.13. ”Never show your head again.“ Jester soon appears with large pot over head. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2490. J2490. Literal fool – miscellaneous.
 
J2491. J2491. Clothing the servant. The master is to clothe the servant (at his expense). The servant insists that his master shall put on his clothes for him. Type 1569**.
 
J2492. J2492. Putting fear into him. A plaintiff insists that the judge shall put some fear into the defendant debtor. The judge puts his fingers over the eyes of the defendant and cries, ”Boo! Now give him his money.“ *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin I 266 No. 246.
 
J2493. J2493. Names of dogs literally interpreted. The names are ”The Shepherd“ and ”Get the stick“. When the man calls his dogs to dinner, the thief thinks that he is telling the shepherd to get a stick. Type 1530*; Russia: Andrejev No. 1530*.
 
J2494. J2494. Getting a box on the ears. The man, advised to cure his wife with a box on the ears, goes to the pharmacy and gets one. He cures his wife. *Type 1372; Fb ”ørefigen“ III 1182; *Jacobs list s.v. ”Box on ears“; Christensen DF XLVII 208 No. 62.
 
J2495. J2495. Religious words or exercises interpreted with absurd literalness. West Indies: Flowers 491; Irish: Beal XXI 333, O’Suilleabhain 105.
 
J2495.1. J2495.1. Praying to the nearer virgin. One man prays to the Virgin of Aix-la-Chapelle. The other: ”That place is too far away; she can‘t be here in time to help.“ He prays to the Virgin of a nearer town. *Wesselski Bebel I 188 No. 47.
 
J2495.2. J2495.2. Debtors do not forgive. ”The Lord’s Prayer has little power. I forgive my debtors but my debtors do not forgive me.“ *Wesselski Bebel I 140 No. 50.
 
J2495.3. J2495.3. Did not want to be Christ. An actor representing Christ in a Passion Play is beaten by Jews. He throws the cross down: ”The devil may be God; I won‘t.“ *Wesselski Bebel II 109 No. 34.
 
J2495.4. J2495.4. Peasants want a living God. An artist, ordered to make a crucifix, asks peasants if they want a living God. They say yes. ”If we don’t like him we can kill him ourselves.“ *Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 409.
 
J2495.5. J2495.5. Numskulls believing that God has reposed on a leaf want to cross river on one. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2496. J2496. ”I don‘t know“ thought to be a person’s name. A man in a country that cannot speak his language hears ”I don‘t know“ so frequently that he thinks it must be the name of the owner of all the places he inquires about. *Type 700*; Africa (Gold Coast): Barker an Sinclair 95 No. 18.
 
J2496.1. J2496.1. Boy who worked for ”nothing at all“ goes to town and demands ”nothing at all.“ (Cf. J2489.10.) Penzer V 97.
 
J2496.2. J2496.2. Misunderstandings because of lack of knowledge of a different language than one’s own. Lithuanian: Balys Index No. *2420; India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2497. J2497. ”Honey is sweet.“ A wayward son, asked by his mother to give her a sweet word, thus answers. *Köhler-Bolte I 3.
 
J2498. J2498. Repeating the ceremony. Fool told to repeat part of the ceremony at baptism persists absurdly in repeating every remark. Field Pent Cuckoo 8; England: Baughman; West Indies: Flowers 491.
 
J2498.1. J2498.1. The imitative choir. Minister tells congregation that he has forgotten his spectacles, that he cannot line out the hymn as he customarily did. The choir sings his words. He tries to explain, apologizes. The choir repeats the apology in song. U.S.: *Baughman.
 
J2498.2. J2498.2. Priest‘s words repeated. Man sent to priest for religious service to repeat priest’s words. Keeps repeating ”Who are you?“ ”Where do you come from?“ India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2499. J2499. Literal fool – additional motifs.
 
J2499.1. J2499.1. ”Till the front sweats.“ A mother orders her daughter to knead the dough until the front of the oven (stirn) sweats. She does so till her forehead (stirn) sweats. Type 1445*.
 
J2499.2. J2499.2. Not naked but with a hood on. She confesses that she has had relations with the priest. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 294.
 
J2499.3. J2499.3. Fool admits crime but pleads mistakes in the details of the accusation. Penzer V 117f.
 
J2499.4. J2499.4. Brings back all stolen cattle possible. Simple monk eats all he can of abbey‘s stolen cattle so as to bring them back home. *Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 61; Alphabet No. 718; Mensa Philosophica No. 187.
 
J2499.5. J2499.5. ”God is everywhere.“ Fool therefore trusts that he is in angry elephant. India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2499.6. J2499.6. Conventional greeting phrase taken literally: ”Come and share it.“ India: Thompson-Balys.
 
J2499.7. J2499.7. Three stupid sons sent out into the world to learn trades: hunter kills his father; musician plays and dances at his father’s death, etc. Chinese: Graham.

Next group

Previous group