A Single Shard

by Linda Sue Park

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Student Question

What life lessons does Crane-man impart to Tree-ear in A Single Shard?

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While it is true that Tree-Ear takes some of his most profound and affirming tutelage from Min, it can also be said that he would have never found the discipline and strength of will to live up to Min's standards without the important life lessons that he learned from Crane-Man.

Crane-Man suffers from a unique disability that causes one of his shriveled feet to be unable to support his weight, causing him to stand on one foot, in a similar fashion to a crane. Crane-Man is therefore unable to work and lives under the town bridge. One would think that such an existence would lead anyone in Crane-Man's situation to a life of crime. However, Crane-Man insists on living an upstanding and virtuous life, even as one of the poorest citizens imaginable.

Crane-Man teaches Tree-Ear that even as a "street urchin," he must live honorably. Crane-Man refuses to steal or beg for food, instead living only on what others have discarded and what he can forage from the woods. In turn, Tree-Ear does everything he can to look after Crane-Man, often taking the larger share of the work in regard to keeping the two fed. Tree-Ear learns from Crane-Man that even the most unfortunate people are capable of the highest dignity if they live honorably.

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