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Monday, February 27, 2012

Aesop's Fables 2: The Tortoise and the Hare


If a rabbit and a turtle were in a race, which one would you bet on? Why?


A Hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who replied, laughing: "Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race." The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race the two started together. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue.
Slow but steady wins the race.


1. swift as the wind: This is a simile, an expression that compares two things using "like" or "as."
2. the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal: It means that their friend, the Fox, would decide where they would run, and where the "finish line" would be.
3. by the wayside: next to the road
4. fast asleep: This "fast" means "completely." "Fast asleep" is a fixed expression.


Answer these questions about the story in complete sentences:

1. Who said, "I will beat you in a race"?
2. Who is male (he, him) and who is female (she, her)?
3. Who decides where the two will run, and where they will finish?
4. What did the Hare do wrong? What did the Tortoise do right?
5. Who won the race? Why?


Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. to ridicule: to make fun of, to mock
b. pace: speed, rate
c. swift: fast, quick
d. an assertion: a statement that the speaker thinks is true; a claim
e. to assent: to agree, to accept an assertion
f. a proposal: a suggestion
g. appointed: chosen
h. to doze: to sleep lightly
i. fatigue: tiredness, exhaustion

Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. After the meeting, I was overcome with __________.
2. Bob finished before Mike because he worked at a faster __________.
3. If you __________ to my suggestion, we can start today.
4. It's a bad idea to __________ at your desk.
5. No one believed his __________ that he was stronger than me.
6. Please give me your __________ for a new project.
7. The new chairman was __________ by the committee.
8. We shouldn't __________ people who are different from us.
9. You must be __________ if you want to get to the station on time.


There are no "right" answers. Give your own opinion. If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Why did the two decide that "the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal"?
2. Why do you think the Hare lay down to sleep?
3. How do you think the Hare felt at the end of the story? How did the Tortoise feel?
4. The lesson (the "moral") of this story is, "Slow but steady wins the race." Do you agree? Always?


Remember, there may be more than one way to express your answer.

1. The Tortoise said, "I will beat you in a race."
2. The Hare is male, and the Tortoise is female.
3. The Fox decides where the two will run, and where they will finish.
4. The Hare lay down to sleep, but the Tortoise kept going steadily.
5. The Tortoise won the race because she never stopped going, but the Hare lay down to sleep.


1 i fatigue; 2 b pace; 3 e assent; 4 h doze; 5 d assertion; 6 f proposal; 7 g appointed; 8 a ridicule; 9 c swift

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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