Aesop's Fables are very short stories that usually feature talking animals or personified items of nature (such as the sun or wind) and end with a pithy bit of wisdom called a moral. Although they are often just a few sentences in length, they usually follow the standard story arc...
Aesop's Fables are very short stories that usually feature talking animals or personified items of nature (such as the sun or wind) and end with a pithy bit of wisdom called a moral. Although they are often just a few sentences in length, they usually follow the standard story arc of longer works of fiction. The story is often introduced with the inciting incident that sets up a problem for one of the characters. This could be a relational issue or a survival issue. The rising action is usually quite limited. The character might try just one or perhaps a few ideas to solve his dilemma. The solution will then present itself, either through the character's own cunning or through another character's suggestion. The problem will then be resolved—but in many cases, not to the character's satisfaction. There is usually not more than a single sentence of falling action, if even that. The moral is then stated perfunctorily, providing the statement of the theme.
As an example, consider the fable of "The Crow and the Pitcher." The fable begins with the problem the crow faces: Little water is available to drink except a small amount in the bottom of a tall pitcher. This is the conflict: The thirsty crow must figure out how to get the water from the pitcher. The problem is described in two sentences. Next, the crow figures out that he can make the water come to him by dropping pebbles into the container. In this fable, the crow's solution is described, but the tale doesn't even recount the refreshing drink. The resolution is barely touched upon but is left for the reader to consider.
In "The Fox and the Goat," a fox finds himself trapped in a well. That is the conflict. Along comes a goat. The fox encourages the goat to join him, then leaps off the goat's back, leaving the goat in the same predicament. The fox runs away with a rude taunt, and the goat's dilemma is left unsolved.
A typical pattern for Aesop's fables is that the conflict or problem is clearly and succinctly defined. The resolution, however, may be hinted at or not fully developed. The moral, neatly appended at the end, makes up for any weakness of the resolution as readers or listeners are left with a meaningful lesson to ponder.