Stories about giving
June 21, 2006 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Classic stories or fables about gifts/giving.

I'm looking for a story or fable to use as a centre-piece for a speech I'm writing and Google isn't helping. I'd like to use a story about a gift or present, to illustrate the importance of, well, giving (it's for a graduation, although not at all in terms of fundraising). I'd like a classic story, or something multicultural. Any ideas in the collective brain?
posted by hamfisted to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The gift of the Magi by O Henry. She cuts her hair to buy him a nice chain for his watch (?, I think); he sells his watch to buy her beautiful hair clips. It's been a while. Certainly a classic.
posted by OmieWise at 11:17 AM on June 21, 2006

Response by poster: I thought of that one, and ruled it out because of the strong tie to Christmas - we're speaking to a very diverse audience, so I'm trying to stay away from the stories related to the Christian traditions.
posted by hamfisted at 11:22 AM on June 21, 2006

Best answer: The Giving Tree?
posted by o0ll0o.o0ll0o at 11:26 AM on June 21, 2006

There was a nice variation on the one OmieWise mentions by Steve Martin, in which a man sells his shinbones to buy his wife cuticle frames, and the wife sells her cuticles in order to buy him shinbone polish. Or maybe it was the other way around. Anyway, it appears in Cruel Shoes.
posted by jon_kill at 12:08 PM on June 21, 2006

"The Happy Prince" by Oscar Wilde, not to be confused with "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
posted by imitura at 12:20 PM on June 21, 2006

Many fairy tales begin with a benevolent (and oftentimes generous) act on the part of the hero, but these episodes are often only incidental to the story.

Stone Soup was the first story that came to mind, but the additional baggage (the community-wide focus, or the soup-maker's trickery, for example) might make it a bit too unwieldy for your purposes...

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be an Androcles and the Lion for the simple act of giving...
posted by The Confessor at 1:05 PM on June 21, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions - I'm enjoying the Silverstein poem/song the most right now. I may be able to adapt it slightly.
posted by hamfisted at 1:39 PM on June 21, 2006

Remember, ham, giving is evil and often illegal.
posted by The Bellman at 2:45 PM on June 21, 2006

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