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What is the theme of "The Princess and the Puma"?

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rajnikanth | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 24, 2012 at 7:43 AM via web

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What is the theme of "The Princess and the Puma"?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted June 25, 2012 at 10:31 PM (Answer #1)

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In "The Princess and the Puma," the theme is based on a man who pretends to be a hero. Rip givens is smitten with the princess Josefa. He vows to marry her. One night, Givens was camping out at White Horse Crossing. He hears a ferocious noise and moments later he sees his Josefa drinking water from a nearby water hole. Then a mountain lion also known as a Mexican Lion is about to pounce on Josefa:

Givens saw the crouching form of the Mexican lion. His amber eyeballs glared hungrily; six feet from them was the tip of the tail stretched straight, like a pointer's. His hind-quarters rocked with the motion of the cat tribe preliminary to leaping.

Givens is too far from his gun; so he jumps between the lion and Josefa. 

While Givens wrestles with the lion, Josefa shoots the lion in the head and kills it. While it appears that she has saved Givens' life, Givens is embarrassed and begins making up a story about the lion being his pet. He is lying to protect his self image. He does not want to appear as one who is rescued by a woman.

To save face, Givens goes on with his tall tale. He insists that the lion was a pet and had run away from camp because he was afraid of a terrier dog. Givens adds that the lion's name is Bill and he was a cowardly lion. Givens states that the lion was only playing and was not really trying to attack Josefa. 

While it seems that Josefa believes Givens, she apologizes for killing Givens' pet lion. She even has tears come to her eyes. 

Josefa and Givens ride to her home while the two of them hold hands. Givens rides away thinking that Josefa believed his story about the lion being his pet lion. After Givens leaves, Josefa calls out to her dad, King Ben. She shares how she killed the ferocious, vicious lion who had killed Gonzales and some calves. Josefa knew it was the lion Gonzales had fought because part of the lion's ear was missing. Gonzales had slashed the lion's ear when they fought, before he was killed by the lion. 

As it turns out, this story is about two people who try to out lie one another. Givens is a good liar, but Josefa is better. She makes Givens believe that she is convinced by his tall tale of having a pet lion. Bottom line: Josefa knew the truth all along. Obviously, she was impressed with Givens because she held his hand while riding back to her home. The theme is that love will make you do strange things and cause one to tell tall tales. The theme is that a man will lie to protect his self image. Also, a good woman will pretend to believe a man's lies to protect his self image.   

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