Henny Penny

Henny Penny (fable)

The fable* is also known by the name of other characters such as Chicken Licken or Chicken Little (USA), and by the phrase The sky is falling that occurs there.

It is an old cumulative tale about a chicken (or a hare in an early version) who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase “The sky is falling” has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.


The Fable

The basic motif and many of the elements of the tale can also be found within Buddhist scriptures as the Daddabha Jataka (J 322).

Henny Penny, Chicken Little

Illustration for the story "Chicken Little", 1916

In this a hare disturbed by a falling fruit believes that the earth is coming to an end and starts a stampede among the other animals. A lion halts them, investigates the cause of the panic and restores calm. The fable teaches the necessity for deductive reasoning and subsequent investigation.

There are several western versions of the story, but the best-known concerns a chick that believes the sky is falling when an acorn falls on her head. She decides to tell the King and on her journey meets other animals who join her in the quest. After this point, there are many endings. In the most familiar, a fox invites them to his lair and there eats them all. Alternatively, the last one, usually Cocky Lockey, survives long enough to warn the chick and she escapes. In still others all are rescued and finally speak to the King.

The Moral of the Story

The moral to be drawn changes, depending on the version. Where there is a ‘happy ending’, the moral is not to be a ‘Chicken‘ but to have courage, which is the conclusion of the film “Chicken Little” (2005). In other versions the fable is usually interpreted to mean do not believe everything you are told, as in the first version of the film (1943).

This was one of a series of four produced by the Walt Disney Studios at the request of the U.S. government during World War II for the purpose of discrediting totalitarianism in general and Nazism in particular. Its dark comedy is used as an allegory for the idea that fear-mongering weakens the war effort and costs lives. The Chicken jumps to a conclusion and whips the populace into mass hysteria, which the unscrupulous fox manipulates for his own benefit.

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* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

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