2012 Sejong Writing Competition

Winning Entries :: Essays :: Junior first place

Rosie Eunseon Choi, 8th grade

The Prejudice of the Green Frog

One of the Korea’s classic folktales, “The Green Frog,” tells a story about a stubborn little frog that lives disagreeable life with his mother. After his father’s death, the green frog always acts contrary to what his mother says; and, the mother eventually dies due to the overwhelming stress she feels from her son’s disobedience. Right away, readers judge the green frog, in his immature defiance, guilty of causing his mother’s suffering. On the other hand, readers feel the mother merits sympathy for having to deal with such a trouble maker for a son. However, the lack of insight into the green frog’s point of view is what prevents readers from empathizing with his character, too. Instead of merely labeling the green frog as a disrespectful and rebellious child, the story should include the green frog’s perspective to prevent readers’ biased understanding.

To understand why the green frog behaves disobediently, readers must analyze his relationship with his mother. As his rebellious conduct increases, the mother starts to agonize over what she should do with her son. “He [causes] her so much distress and embarrassment. ‘Why can’t he be like other frogs?’” The green frog’s mother blames him for causing her humiliation and for not being like the other children. His mother only focuses on her son’s negative behavior and how it affects her, which proves the mother to be somewhat ego-centric. Moreover, she seems to view her son in a one dimensional way, a child whose only purpose in his life is to disobey her authority. The mother frog fails to recognize any of his positive qualities, such as his talent and uniqueness. This unfair, negative perception of her son creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, ironically leading him to become even more disrespectful. Eventually, in order to change his son by the way she wants, “the mother frog [scolds] the green frog and [tries] to teach him the proper way to behave.” Instead of praising him for his improvements or showing him constructive support and love, the mother only punishes her son for his disobedience and failure. Thus, her scolding conversely discourages the green frog from wanting to please her. Overall, the mother frog’s accusatory approach to raising her son motivates him to become more defiant and distant.

This folktale also neglects to describe the green frog’s emotions or motives, which hampers the readers’ ability to make a fair judgment of his character. Besides the negative influence of his mom, there could be several other reasons that explain the green frog’s disobedient behavior. The story begins with a depiction of the setting. “Long ago, the green frog lived with his widowed mother in a small pond.” From the very beginning, readers are aware that the green frog’s father had died. However, readers fail to realize that the traumatic loss of a loving father and a strong male role-model leads the green frog to stray from his blissful youth. All the green frog needs is some understanding, supportive attention, and consolation for his grieving heart from his father’s death. However, instead of a sympathetic parent to confide in, the green frog faces disappointment, guilt, and negative reinforcement from the only parent he has left. This is what causes him to become a trouble maker bent on his own emotional depression. Without considering about the reasons behind the green frog’s stubborn rebellion, he is labeled simply as a rude son for readers, as his mother did.

People often forget to consider all sides of an issue, tending to focus on what things appear to be, instead of what they truly are. Likewise, many readers overlook the reasons why a character acts the way he or she does since the effect of their actions on other characters comprises most of the conflict. Yet it would be ignorant and incorrect to only judge one side of an argument. Therefore, the inclusion of the green frog’s emotions in the story is vital to our analysis and unprejudiced understanding of the dynamic conflict between a parent and a child.