” ‘Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, go back to the Woods again…’ “

I’ve only read one of Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So” stories, so far,  but I get the idea from this one that they are similar in nature to a Greek myth or to one of Aesop’s fables.  They are not very long and they tend to provide an explanation for “how things are” or “how things came to be”.

“The Cat That Walked By Himself”  is a smart and funny story that anyone who has had any experience with cats will understand and appreciate.  It takes place somewhere around the beginning of time, or at least early in time, before many of the domesticated animals we have today were domesticated.  The Dog, Cow, Horse and Cat were still considered “wild”.  Actually, Man was still considered “wild”.  Guess who had to come along and “tame” him?  Yeah, that’s right – Woman.  The Dog, Cow and Horse all make a visit to the Woman (the Man is out hunting – he hasn’t been completely tamed!) and decide that domesticity isn’t such a bad thing – the woman makes a deal with them and the three of them end up becoming the Woman and Man’s friends and servants.

During these dealings, the Cat continues to be the Cat that walks by himself.  He has no intentions of giving in to the Woman’s requests and becoming domesticated.  The Woman tells him “Wild Thing out of the Woods, go back to the Woods again…”.   The Cat then makes his own “bet” with the Woman.  One in which the Woman loses and the Cat gets to hang out by the Woman’s fire and drink milk and generally slink around the Cave (The Man and Woman still live in a Cave).

The question that has to be asked after reading this story is “Who is the real winner of this bet”?  While the Cat does not crave domesticity, he ends up looking as though he has been domesticated, although it’s on his terms and not the Woman’s.  Intriguing.

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2 responses to “” ‘Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, go back to the Woods again…’ “

  1. I still haven’t gotten started on Kipling’s Plain Tales from the Hills and it continues to mock me from the bookshelf across the room. I enjoy Kipling’s style, though. Was Rikki-Tikki -Tavi one of the Just So stories?

    • I think Rikki-Tikki Tavi is one of his “Jungle Book” stories. I’m finding that his stories have been put into categories. I just got finished reading one of his “Soldier Stories” called “The Courting of Dinah Shadd”. I’m hoping to post something about it today. “The Cat That Walked By Himself” was brilliant, I couldn’t stop thinking about it!

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