Native American Tales

Why the Owl has Big Eyes

Why the Owl has Big EyesWhy the Owl has Big Eyes

Iroquois

Raweno, the Everything Maker, was busy creating all the animals. What each animal asked for he gave it. Rabbit wanted long legs, long ears, sharp fangs, and claws. Raweno was in the process of giving rabbit the things he wanted, but Owl decided to peek.

Owl wanted a long neck, a long beak, red feathers, and a plume of feathers on his head, but he kept trying to watch Raweno work. Raweno had told him that nobody was allowed to watch him work, but Owl said he was going to watch Raweno work and tried his best.

Raweno had just made Rabbit’s back legs long, and Owl was being annoying and finally Raweno got fed up. He said Owl was to have no neck and his eyes would be large. He would also have to sleep during the day when Raweno worked. He would also have grey feathers. Owl was disappointed in his new form and flew off crying.

Rabbit got so scared by all of this he ran away unfinished. He only got long legs on the back and hi front legs were shorter. He would have to hop everywhere instead of running. He also didn’t get his fangs or claws. Because he got scared during this, he has been scared of all sorts of things ever since and owl has been the way he has ever since as well.

Observations

Owls are kind of a strange bird. I used to have one that would sit in a tree outside the front of my house and hoot, like all night long. It must have been related to the annoying owl in this story. Owls usually only come out at night; they go hunting. The big eyes probably make it easier to see at night. About the neck–in general, on animals, necks are short as a form of protection. If you have no neck to speak of, how is that other bigger animal going to get a hold of it? Owls are pretty big so I’m not sure what their predators are.

A problem I see with this story is that Owl necks, while being short, and pretty mobile. They can turn their heads around a lot further than anyone wants to think about. This owl could have simply turned his new neck around to watch Raweno work, but I guess that bit of information didn’t make it into the story.

Themes

Sometimes you have to follow the rules and sometimes you have to stay the course in the face of fear. If someone is giving you something, maybe you should follow the set of circumstances that would allow it to happen. For example, let’s say you’re having some type of surgery and the doctor says that you should not eat salt for a week beforehand and that you should drink plenty of water, otherwise, you won’t be able to have the surgery. If you ignore those set of rules, do you think the surgery is going to happen? There are simply conditions that have to be met before some things happen and if you don’t follow them, that thing isn’t going to happen. Owl did not follow the conditions set forth by Raweno, and, as such, ended up being a squat-necked creature.

Rabbit, on the other hand, had done nothing wrong, but simply got scared. If he had stayed, he would have gotten what he wanted. Sometimes fear does keep up from getting what we want. We know if we follow through with something, we’re going to get XYZ, but the fear we go through getting there can sometimes be too much and we bail. I’ve been in situations like this, we’ve all been in situations like this.

I had a seriously rough and fearful year, but I knew if I gave into that fear, I would never get out of the situation I was in. I stuck it out, through the fear, and I feel as if I’m in a better situation.

I don’t think rabbits would be nearly as cute if they had fangs and large claws, but it still would have been good for Rabbit to get his wish; rabbit hunting would take on a whole different set of circumstances though.

Overall

If someone tells you they’re going to give you a cookie if you’re not annoying for thirty seconds, maybe you should follow their wishes.

Weigh In

Would you like a rabbit if Rabbit had ended up how he envisioned in this story?

Do you think Owl was punished justly or was he just being mischievous?

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