The Boy Who Drew Cats

by Lafcadio Hearn

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Why did the goblin light the lamp in "The Boy Who Drew Cats"?

The goblin lights the lamp in order to tempt lonely travelers to ask for shelter. This is an old folk-tale that is widely believed by the local people. Joji is blissfully unaware of this story as he makes his way to the temple, where he hopes to continue his education.

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Joji has left behind the temple where he was training to be a priest. Sadly, things didn't work for him there because, instead of learning how to be a monk, he spent practically the whole time drawing pictures of cats, which is his overriding obsession in life.

So it's time for Joji to move on, which he does so reluctantly. As he's too embarrassed to return home to his parents, he decides to travel to the next village, where he hopes to continue his education in the village temple. He's heard that there are several priests there and he will ask one of them to make him their acolyte.

When Joji finally reaches the village, he notices that, although all the streets are dark, the light is on at the temple. But unbeknown to Joji, the temple is closed, apparently because a malevolent goblin has frightened all the priests away. Some brave warriors entered the temple to kill the goblin, but none of them ever came out alive.

Local legend also states that goblins make a light in the temple to tempt unsuspecting travelers into seeking shelter. Thankfully, no one has told this story to Joji, otherwise it's fair to say that he wouldn't dream of approaching the temple.

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