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How Brer Rabbit Met Brer Tarbaby

Retold by Rohini Chowdhury


This story was first recorded by Joel Chandler Harris in his collection of American African fables, the Uncle Remus stories. Harris retold the fables in the dialect used by the African slaves. Later retellings, such as the version of the story given here, have been in standard English, which makes the tales easier to read but takes away the charm of the original.

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From the Panchatantram:

The Three Fishes
The Indigo Jackal
The Monkey and the
Crocodile

The Talkative Turtle




From Aesop:

The Ant and the Grasshopper
The Lion and the Mouse
The Ass and the Lapdog
The Cat and the Fox
The Lion with Bad Breath



From Uncle Remus:

How Brer Rabbit Met Brer Tar Baby




Find out more:

The Panchatantram
Aesop
Phaedrus
Writers of fables




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One day Brer Fox and Brer Wolf, Brer Bear and Brer Possum, and all the other animals gathered together. 'We shall dig a well,' they declared.

So all the animals set to digging, and they dug and they dug and they dug. All except Brer Rabbit. He wasn't going to dig a well! He ran about and played in the bushes and had a good time.

'Brer Rabbit, if you aren't going to dig the well, what will you do when you need water?' said the other animals, watching him.

'Oh, I shall just go and get it and drink it,' said Brer Rabbit, and he ran about and played in the bushes some more.

After a while, when the well was dug, all the animals gathered together and said, 'We shall plough the field and plant some corn.'

So Brer Fox and Brer Wolf, Brer Bear and Brer Possum, and all the other animals began ploughing the field and planting corn. All except Brer Rabbit. He wasn't going to plough the field! He wasn't going to plant the corn! He ran about and played in the bushes and had a good time.

'Brer Rabbit, if you aren't going to plough the field and plant the corn, what will you do when you need corn?' said the other animals, watching him.

'Oh, I shall just go and get it and eat it,' said Brer Rabbit, and he ran about and played in the bushes some more.

And so, when Brer Fox and Brer Wolf and Brer Bear and Brer Possum had dug the well, Brer Rabbit came along and helped himself to the water. And when Brer Fox and Brer Wolf and Brer Bear and Brer Possum and all the rest had ploughed the field and planted the corn and cut it, Brer Rabbit came along and helped himself to it.

Then Brer Fox and Brer Wolf and Brer Bear and Brer Possum and all the other animals got together and made up their minds to catch Brer Rabbit so he could not steal their water and their corn any more. But Brer Rabbit was very clever, and nobody could catch him.

But Brer Wolf said, 'I have to catch him!' He took some straw and made it into a baby with a head, arms, legs, a body, and he covered it with sticky black tar till the tar baby looked just like a real human baby. Then he sat Tar Baby right next to the well and went away.

By and by, Brer Rabbit came along. He saw Tar Baby and stopped. He thought it was a real person sitting there. But he needed the water, so he said politely as he could, 'Good evening, sir. Fine weather we are having, sir!' But the Tar Baby made no reply.

How Brer Rabbit Met Brer Tar Baby cont'd...  next page
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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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