A HUNGRY SPIDER
AND THE TURTLE
Spider and Turtle live in different countries.
They first meet when Turtle, famished from traveling a long way from home,
comes upon Spider's house. While Spider is well known among his neighbors
for his great appetite and his greediness, Turtle, being a stranger, believes
Spider's offer of a meal to be sincere.
It becomes clear that Spider wants all the food
for himself and that his gesture of hospitality is mere show so that people
will not speak badly of him. Turtle realizes that he has been tricked
out of having any food but doesn't let on that he knows.
He suavely concurs with Spider that it was a fine
meal; and as Turtle leaves, he assures Spider of similar hospitality if
Spider ever visits in his country. In time, the gluttonous Spider finds
himself a long way from home in Turtle's country.
Now it is Turtle's turn to use local custom as
a camouflage for true intent. He repays Spider's gesture of hospitality
and Spider gets the meal that he deserves.
1. Why did Spider invite Turtle to share his food?
(A)___ To amuse himself
(B)___ To be kind and helpful
(C)___ To have company at dinner
(D)___ To appear generous
.2. There is a saying, "Don't get mad, get even."
How does this apply to the story?
3. Which best describes Spider's character?
4. What do Turtle's actions at Spider's house tell
you about Turtle?
5. When Turtle remains quiet about his mistreatment
by Spider, the author wants you to
(A)___ believe Turtle is afraid
(B)___ have sympathy for Turtle
(C)___ feel dislike for Turtle
(D)___ think Turtle deserved no dinner
6. Think about Spider and Turtle in the story. Pick
someone you know, have read about, or have seen in the movies or on television
and explain how that person is like either Spider or Turtle.
7. Spider's behavior during the first part of the
story is most like that of
(A)___ mothers protecting their children
(B)___ thieves robbing banks
(C)___ runners losing races
(D)___ people not sharing their wealth
8. Who do you think would make a better friend, Spider
or Turtle? Explain why
9. Spider's visit to Turtle in the second part of
the story mainly shows that
(A)___ Turtle could treat Spider the same way
(B)___ Spider could float on the water
(C)___ Spider could get a free meal
(D)___ Turtle lived in a small house
10. Do you think Turtle should have done what he did
to Spider? Explain why or why not.
11. The final sentence of the story is: "People always
say that one good meal deserves another." The author uses this sentence
as a way of saying that
(A)___ Turtle and Spider both were good cooks
(B)___ Turtle should not have invited Spider to dinner
(C)___ Spider earned what Turtle did to him
(D)___ Spider should have cooked what Turtle liked to eat
12. Which group of words best helps you to understand
the message of this story?
(A)___Strength, joy, humor
(B)___ Foolishness, anger, endurance
(C)___Communication, friendship, honesty (D) Fear, frustration, bewilderment
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[Editor's Note: "Hungry Spider and the
Turtle" is a West African folktale that humorously depicts hunger and
the custom of hospitality through the actions and conversations of the
title characters. We did not receive copyright approval to put the actual
text from the student booklet on the Website. Full text can be found in
Harold Courlander, "Hungry Spider and the Turtle," from The Cow-Tail Switch
& Other West African Stories. © 1987 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc.]
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