A government made up of big, fat, black cats

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This is the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.
They even had a parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards, too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government.
A government made up of big, fat, black cats.
Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government of cats, look at the history of Canada for the last 90 years and maybe you'll see they weren't any stupider then us.
Now I'm not saying anything against the cats. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws - that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren't very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouse holes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only run at certain speeds - so a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.
All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn't put up with it any more, they decided that something had to be done. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in white cats.
Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said, "All Mouseland needs is more vision." They said, "The trouble with Mouseland is the round mouse holes. If you put us in we'll make square mouse holes." And they did. And the square mouse holes were twice as big as the round ones, and now a cat could get both paws in.

And life was tougher then ever.

And when they couldn't take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and black ones in again. Then they went back to white cats. Then to black cats. They even tried half black and half white cats. And they called that a coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: They were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.
You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.
Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, "Look fellows, why do we keep electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?" "Oh," they said, "he’s a Bolshevik. Lock him up!"

So they put him in jail.

But I want to remind you: That you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can't lock up an idea.
- Tommy Douglas, 1944
At the end of Mouseland, one mouse speaks up and offers a solution to Mouseland’s problems. What are some advantages and disadvantages for the mice in electing mice to run the government? Why do the other mice lock up the mouse that offers a solution?
What point is the author trying to make with this political fable?
Part 2


Directions: Closely read each of the three texts provided below and write an evidence-based argument on the topic below. You may use the margins to take notes as you read and the next page to plan your response. Write your response in the space provided.
Topic: When placed into positions of leadership, what do men tend to do with the power afforded them by their people?
Your Task: Carefully read each of the three texts provided. Then, using evidence from all three of the texts, write a well-developed argument regarding the relationship between leadership and power. Clearly establish your claim, distinguish your claim from alternate or opposing claims, and use specific and relevant evidence from at least three of the texts to develop your argument. Do not simply summarize each text.

Be sure to:

  • Establish your claim regarding the relationship between leadership and power.

  • Distinguish your claim from alternate or opposing claims

  • Use specific, relevant, and sufficient evidence from at least four of the texts to develop your argument

  • Identify the source that you reference by text number and line number(s) or graphic (for example: Text 1, line 4 or Text 2, graphic

  • Organize your ideas in a cohesive and coherent manner

  • Maintain a formal style of writing

  • Follow the conventions of standard written English


Text 1 – The Frogs Desiring a King From Aesop’s Fables

Text 2 – The Hawk, the Kite, and the Pigeons From Aesop’s Fables

Text 3 – The Horse, Hunter and Stag From Aesop’s Fables

Text 4 – George Orwell, 1984

Text 5 – Not applicable

The Frogs Desiring a King

The Frogs were living as happy as could be in a marshy swamp that just suited them; they went splashing about caring for nobody and nobody troubling with them. But some of them thought that this was not right, that they should have a king and a proper constitution, so they determined to send up a petition to Jove to give them what they wanted. "Mighty Jove," they cried, "send unto us a king that will rule over us and keep us in order." Jove laughed at their croaking, and threw down into the swamp a huge Log, which came down splashing into the swamp. The Frogs were frightened out of their lives by the commotion made in their midst, and all rushed to the bank to look at the horrible monster; but after a time, seeing that it did not move, one or two of the boldest of them ventured out towards the Log, and even dared to touch it; still it did not move. Then the greatest hero of the Frogs jumped upon the Log and commenced dancing up and down upon it, thereupon all the Frogs came and did the same; and for some time the Frogs went about their business every day without taking the slightest notice of their new King Log lying in their midst. But this did not suit them, so they sent another petition to Jove, and said to him, "We want a real king; one that will really rule over us." Now this made Jove angry, so he sent among them a big Stork that soon set to work gobbling them all up. Then the Frogs repented when too late.

Moral: Better no rule than cruel rule
The Hawk, the Kite, and the Pigeons

THE PIGEONS, terrified by the appearance of a Kite, called upon the Hawk to defend them. He at once consented. When they had admitted him into the cote, they found that he made more havoc and slew a larger number of them in a single day, than the Kite could possibly pounce upon in a whole year.

Moral: Avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease.

The Horse, Hunter and Stag

A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter agreed, but said: "If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy." The Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: "Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and back."

"Not so fast, friend," said the Hunter. "I have now got you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present."
Moral: If you allow men to use you for your own purposes, they will use you for theirs.
“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently…We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

― George Orwell, 1984

Questions for Review:

(Questions like these do not appear on a regents exam. These are here for the purpose of our class discussion.)

Why would the frogs in the story seek a ruler and a constitution if “nobody [was troubling with them”? Is it possible to live with “no rule” as suggested in the moral of the story?
The pigeons soon discover that their “remedy…is worse than the disease” just as most of the animals on Animal Farm discover that rule under the pigs is no better than it was under Jones. What might have been a better solution for the animals on Manor Farm rather than a revolution. Develop your ideas.
In “The Horse, Hunter and Stag,” the horse is willing to surrender control in order to defeat the stag only to discover that his loss of freedom is not temporary. What would you be willing to surrender in order to feel more secure? What do the animals on Animal Farm surrender in order to be rid of Mr. Jones? Do they do so willingly? What lesson(s) do they learn?
RL 8.9: Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new.
RL: 8.1: Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

When placed into positions of power, men tend to abuse that power and are reluctant to relinquish it. This idea is established in four texts: “The Frogs Desiring a King,” “The Hawk, the Kite and the Pigeons,” “The Horse, Hunter and Stag” as well as in the excerpt from George Orwell’s 1984. Orwell’s excerpt states that power…

This idea is reinforced by the three Aesop’s fables. In “The Frogs Desiring a King,” …
Likewise, “The Hawk, the Kite and the Pigeons,”
Finally, “The Horse, Hunter and Stag,”

Concluding sentences which reinforce your thesis…

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