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Critiques of 8 Short stories The subject of The Zebra

The subject of The Zebra Storyteller is literature and its purpose as carried forth by the practitioner. The Zebra in the story is the storyteller, the artist, the creative force that shapes a story and imparts it to others. The Siamese cat is the embodiment of the story created by the Zebra. In this case, the story is real and actually exists, though the Zebra does not know this. The Siamese cat is the unknown and unexpected, and most zebras meet the unknown and are destroyed by the experience. The storyteller destroys the power of the unknown by seeing it first and then by imparting this knowledge through his or her stories to others. Fiction is a way to expand experience and to protect against the unknown. The author makes use of the fable form in telling this story in order to present an overarching moral such as would be expected in a fable. The animals are given anthropomorphic characteristics and so stand in for human beings, and what might seem fantastic in the real world becomes instead symbolic of the underlying themes given import by the author.

This story goes to the heart of what literature is and does, dealing as it does with the role of the artist in society. the Zebra Storyteller sees through the superstitions and fears of his fellow creatures and carries his knowledge through his stories to a wider audience, giving others the tools to fight superstition and falsehood on their own. He sees through the pretense of the Siamese cat while others have been fooled by it, and the reason he does so is because he has already thought of this pretense himself. Anyone reading his story would also have this protective knowledge and would be ready for the meeting with the Siamese cat. Literature is empowerment, knowledge, and salvation. It is the power of imagination over superstition.

In this short story, Ambrose Bierce makes use of a fantastic situation to draw the reader into a particular moment in the Civil ...

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