Indian Tales and Legends Critical Essays

J. E. B. Gray


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Indian Tales and Legends is a collection of classic tales that draw in readers with fast-paced action and exciting plots. The descriptions of settings and physical details are simple or assumed to be known unless these are essential to the plot. Similarly, readers learn only selected things about characters. The stories focus on the events that demonstrate the characters’ virtues, usually with unexpected twists that make the tales memorable. In this way, these Indian tales are similar to collections of tales from other cultures. In other ways, these stories are particular to the culture and history of India. Readers’ comprehension of a story in the collection is dependent not only upon its words but also upon their own knowledge and experience. A possible problem for those who are not natives of India or familiar with Hindu and Buddhist traditions is that these readers do not bring to the tales the background experience that the original storytellers may have assumed. From whichever culture they come, however, folktales can appeal to and inform readers on many levels. Children have always loved folktales; adults may also be enthralled by the story, but they understand its deeper meanings as well.

This collection of Indian tales includes many with animals as main characters, as well as stories of earthly forms of gods and of kings, villains, witches, and demons. Both animal and human characters demonstrate the power of good and evil and...

(The entire section is 439 words.)