2008 Sejong Writing Competition

Winning Entries :: Essays :: Junior first place

The Rabbit's Judgment
Julia Triesch

It was only a year ago that I had a disagreement with one of my best friends, Sarah.  Of course, there have been many disagreements in our friendship.  However, this particular argument comes to mind as I read the Korean folk tale The Rabbit’s Judgment.  In the folk tale, a man decides to rescue a tiger from a deep pit, after he receives a promise from the hungry tiger that he will not eat the man once rescued.  However, after the tiger is helped out of the pit, he forgets his gratitude toward the man and seeks to devour him.  The man begs for mercy and calls upon a pine tree, an ox, and a rabbit to judge his fate.  The tree and the ox make it clear that man as a species is not very popular, and therefore judge in the tiger’s favor.  However, the clever, sympathetic rabbit is able to trick the tiger back into the pit, leaving the man to continue on his way as before the disagreement ever existed.

The man in this folk tale is the character that I am able to relate to best.  His act of kindness towards the tiger leads to a disagreement between the two.  It was my act of kindness towards my friend Sarah that led to our argument.  Sarah had been out sick from school the day she called me over for a favor.  Sarah and I both had the same math class. We were having a test the very next day.  Sarah had asked for help from me with the review sheet.  I was happy to go over to help.  As we began the review, I realized that Sarah had not completed any of the problems and was not interested in studying for the test.  After I attempted to explain my answers, Sarah asked to just copy my answers instead of learning how to do the work.  I told her that she would not be able to do well on the test if she did not study.  I also insisted that she not copy my answers.  Sarah became frustrated and called for her older sister, Jessica, to come give an opinion on the situation.  Jessica reminded Sarah and me of Sarah’s last slumber party, where Jessica became very upset.  All of the girls at the party took turns spraying Jessica’s favorite perfume on their pillows and sleeping bags until it was gone.  Jessica said, “What do you know about fairness, Gaby?  You used all of my favorite perfume without even asking.  I don’t see why you have the right to judge now.  I don’t see anything wrong with Sarah copying your answers.” 

But just then her younger brother, Jacob, passed by the door.  I quickly pulled him in Sarah’s room, hoping for a different opinion.  Sarah and I presented the case once more and waited for Jacob’s response.  “Remember when Gaby was judging the yearbook contest and my cover was one of the finalists.  Gaby really liked it and she said that I would probably win, but I didn’t.  Mine was definitely the best! The contest was not fair and you did nothing to help me win!  I think you owe Sarah the answers after cheating me out of mine.”

Life was looking pretty hopeless, until Sarah’s mom walked into our room.  Sarah’s mom heard the disagreement and asked if she could help.  Of course I was ready for a new opinion form a wise adult, but Sarah seemed a little nervous about telling her mom the situation.  I told her mom about the review sheet and how Sarah wanted to copy my answers without working through the problems.  Sarah gave her mom a look of innocence as though nothing was wrong.  Sarah’s mom asked the question “If two girls have the same answers on their review will they get the same grade on their test?”  Sarah looked at me and said “Probably, why wouldn’t they?”  Then Sarah’s mom turned to me for an answer.  I replied, “No, not necessarily.  Just because they both have the same answers doesn’t mean they both know how to solve them.”  Sarah’s mom asked both of us to solve problem twenty as she covered up the answer.  I solved the problem with the correct answer, Sarah stared blankly at her paper and looked at me and said, “Okay you’re right, I need to study!”  Sarah’s mom looked at me and said, “It’s time for you to go home and it is time for Sarah to study.  Problem solved.  There is no need for copying the answers, just a need for studying.”

As I headed home, I thought that Sarah’s mom handled the situation very well, just like the rabbit did in the Korean folktale.  I felt the rabbit and Sarah’s mom both made the correct decision in a very creative way.  I hoped that someday I would be as skilled and clever as the rabbit and Sarah’s mom.