A Long Way Gone
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The folktales were important because they were a simple way of helping those involved understand their circumstances. War is inexplicable, and this novel deals greatly with very young boys. Often, things are a little easier to understand when put in a different perspective. That's what folktales do.
The Bra Spider's Tale was about a very hungry spider who wanted to eat at all the feasts in all the different villages. To do this, he left ropes leading to each of the towns and instructed the villagers pull their rope when their food was ready. However, all the food was ready at the same time, and the spider had tied all the ropes around his waist. When everyone pulled the ropes at the same time, the spider was lifted high above all the villages and pulled from all directions and did not get to eat any of the food. That is why spiders have tiny waists.
Origin stories are a common theme in folk tales. They explain how things get their names, this is also found in ancient myths (Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection, dying, and turning into the Narcissus flower),or how something or a certain quality of something began (how the tiger got its stripes; creation).