Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In ancient times, Breton monk Maël is diligent in gathering converts to the Church. One day the devil causes Maël to be transported in a boat to the North Pole, where the priest lands on an island inhabited by penguins. Being somewhat snow-blind, he mistakes the birds for people, preaches to them, and, taking their silence as a sign of willingness, baptizes them into the Christian faith.
This error of the pious Maël causes great consternation in paradise. God calls all the saints together, and they argue whether the baptisms are valid. At last they decide that the only way out of the dilemma is to change the penguins into people. After this transformation, Maël tows the island back to the Breton coast so that he can keep an eye on his converts. Thus begins the history of Penguinia on the island of Alca.
At first, the penguins are without clothes, but before long the holy Maël puts clothes on the females. The novelty of covering excites the males, and sexual promiscuity increases enormously. The penguins begin to establish the rights of property by knocking one another over the head. Greatauk, the largest and strongest penguin, becomes the founder of power and wealth. A taxation system is established by which all penguins are taxed equally. This system is favored by the rich, who keep their money intended to benefit the poor.
Kraken, a clever penguin, withdraws to a lonely part of the island and lives alone in a cave. Finally,...
(The entire section is 1082 words.)
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