Yet another popular fable from Aesop, “The Honest Woodcutter” portrays honesty overcoming temptation. It is a remarkable story. The woodcutter refuses to accept the golden and silver axes offered to him by a god/goddess in place of the iron axe he had lost. The god impressed with his honesty gives him all the three axes at the end.

The problem with this story is that it emphasizes honesty on one hand but raises an expectation of a handsome reward for honesty, on the other. I think instilling honesty for the sake of honesty alone goes a long way rather than creating an expectation of a high reward. Why should the children expect a high reward for honesty? What happens when the children don’t receive such a reward in real life when they are honest?

Some of the versions of the original story are given in References below.

Here’s an amended version of the story which I tell children, which you may (or may not) like. The idea is to not promote greed in children. Honesty is for the sake of honesty and compassion, and not for reward. Additionally, this version talks about the usefulness of the tools.

Why I tweak:

‘The Honest Woodcutter’ Retold

Once upon a time, there was a woodcutter called Harish. He worked hard to chop wood and sell it so he can buy food and clothes for his family. To cut and chop wood, he needed a sharp axe. Sharper the axe, the better. A strong axe is also preferred. The wood cutter had an old axe which wasn’t so sharp and strong but he managed to work with it. One day as he swung his axe, if flew and fell in the nearby river and sunk.

He was heart-broken as he had nothing else to work with. As he was sobbing, a fairy appeared and asked why he was crying. When Harish told her about the axe, she dived into the river and brought out a strong axe. “Harish, is this your axe?” asked the fairy. Harish replied “That’s a nice strong axe. How easier it would be to cut the wood with that?” and took a closer look at the axe. He recognized it to be his friend Naveen’s axe. He told the fairy that it wasn’t his axe. The fairy asked him if he would like to have it. Harish said “That is Naveen’s axe. We should give it to him so he can get his work done.”

The fairy dived back into the river and came up with a strong and sharp axe. Harish said “Oh, what a strong and sharp axe! This can cut the wood into clean pieces. But this is not my axe. Please give it to it’s rightful owner. The owner must be missing his axe.” The fairy was impressed with his honesty. She then came up with Harish’s blunt axe. Harish was happy to see his own axe and said “Thank you fairy. Now, I can continue my work. You are so kind.” Fairy was so impressed with his honesty that she helped him by sharpening his axe and strengthening the handle. Harish gave a grateful smile and went back to work with his improved axe.

Moral: Honesty is fulfilling and rewarding.





1 Comment

R Deepa · January 26, 2023 at 3:25 am

Its very nice to see you Mam and a few other people interested in bringing a new well balanced generation trying to tell the old stories with right logic and moral to help Children learn the important values and face the real situations in their life to lead a peaceful life for themselves and also for others.

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