2011 Sejong Writing Competition
Winning Entries :: Essays :: Junior first place
One night as I was curled up on my couch, enjoying the sound of rain pattering down softly on the roof, I turned to look at the door that led outside. Seeing as it was only made of glass, I could see through it perfectly well. The peaceful silence of the rainy night made it seem as though the world was illuminated only by the fluorescent glow of a lone streetlight on the road, and as I was looking out at this scene, I noticed on the other side of the door there was perched a little green frog. Curious, I slowly crept outside to observe it more closely, and amazingly enough, the frog didn’t seem frightened at all. I was able to get so close to it that I could see in great detail its delicate limbs and exotic green skin. As I knelt down on the damp walkway, I noticed its strikingly piercing eyes looking straight into mine. After kneeling there in the rain for several minutes, neither the frog nor I had moved. I was so intrigued by the little animal that I decided to catch it. After all, if it hadn’t moved yet, it should have been fairly easy to capture. However, as I gingerly reached out my hand toward the creature, it suddenly jumped away and landed just out of my reach. It looked back at me one more time, and before it hopped away into the night, I could have sworn I saw a single tear roll down its cheek.
I’d always figured I must have imagined the frog was crying, but reading The Green Frog made me wonder if perhaps I really had seen the creature shed a tear, after all. Although The Green Frog concludes with the statement, “And that is why, to this day, the green frogs cry when it rains,” I believe that there is a more meaningful moral to this folk tale, hidden behind the many complex layers of the story and the various ways in which it can be interpreted. Each reader will interpret the folk tale differently; his or her understanding will be influenced by personal experiences, as well as the way he or she views life in general.
In my interpretation of The Green Frog, however, I believe that the moral of the story is that children should always respect their elders. Basically, it is a metaphor; the green frog represents a disobedient child, and the mother frog represents a parent who is troubled by an unruly son or daughter. This folk tale shows, in an exaggerated manner, what the outcome will be if a child is disrespectful toward his or her parents, and it is a warning to all who think their actions will go without consequences. This is demonstrated when the folk tale states, “Day after day, week after week, the mother frog scolded the green frog and tried to teach him the proper way to behave, but he continued to ignore her and did just as he wished.” The green frog does not take into account the effects his actions will have on those around him, and ends up causing unintended events to occur. This is reinforced in the next line of the story, which states, “The mother frog was growing old, and she worried so much that eventually she became sick.”
The mother frog becoming sick leads to an especially poignant scene in the story where the mother frog tries to trick the green frog into burying her body on the mountain. Assuming her son will do the opposite of what she tells him, the mother frog asks the green frog to bury her body on the riverbank. However, when she finally passes away, the green frog is so overwhelmed with guilt that he decides to honor her last request and, for once, do what he is told to do, even though he knows it is unwise. This results in the repercussion of the mother frog’s grave being washed away by the monsoon rains, leaving the green frog filled with sorrow and regret.
However, since the mother frog is the one who requests to be buried by the river, does that mean it is still the green frog’s fault that her grave ends up being destroyed? Here, a conflict arises of whether the green frog should honor his mother’s request even though it is unwise, or bury her where he knows she will be safe. Since he has spent his whole life disobeying her, he understandably tries to redeem himself and honor her last request. This seems to be a reasonable decision, so is he still the one at fault for the mother frog’s grave being washed away? It seems as though the mother frog condemns herself to this fate when she asks to be buried by the river, so in fact, the green frog is not responsible for the destruction of his mother’s grave. Ultimately, her grave is destroyed because she stops persevering and gives up hope that her son will ever behave well.
I believe the trait of perseverance plays a key role in being a successful parent, though, and the mother frog loses this persistence as the story progresses. Just like when the mother frog asks herself, “Why can’t he respect his elders and do what he’s told?”, I am definitely aware that sometimes I can be stubborn or disobedient and make my mother think the same question. Similar to this folk tale, my mother and I have occasional arguments. However, what sets my situation apart from the green frog’s is that my mother doesn’t simply give up; she is patient and persistent. Over the years, she has been a role model in my life and has taught me to respect my elders, which is an invaluable lesson addressed in this story. Ultimately, no matter how long ago this folk tale was created, the lesson learned from reading it will remain timeless.