Thursday, February 4, 2010

"The Shepherd's Daughter." William Saroyan.

One-minute review: His grandmother tells him he must be able to create artifacts, i.e., be able to make something useful. She tells a story to illustrate why.

The king’s son falls in love with s shepherd’s daughter. A messenger tells the girl that the king’s son wants her to be his wife. But he is the son of a king and king’s sons don’t do anything. The shepherd’s daughter says he must be able to do something productive before she will marry him.

He learns to weave beautiful rugs, so she marries the king’s son. One day the king’s son is abducted by thieves. He tells his abductors that he can weave beautiful rugs. He weaves three beautiful rugs and promises that if the thieves take them to the palace, they will receive a substantial sum of money for each of them. The king recognizes the rugs as the work of his son, shows them to the shepherd’s daughter, who reads the messages skillfully woven into the rugs, tells the king where the thieves can be found and the king’s men capture the thieves and free the king’s son.

That is why you must learn to make something useful, said his grandmother. “Just as soon as I have the money, I’ll buy the wood and a saw and hammer and make a chair,” I tell my grandmother.

75 Short Masterpieces: Stories from the World’s Literature. Ed. Roger B. Goodman. New York: Bantam Books. 1961. These summaries do not do justice to the vividness of the stories. RayS.

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