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The Analysis of The Primal Myth "The Story of Jumping Mouse"

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What does the myth say? The Story of Jumping Mouse is a Primal myth depicting the life of Mouse and the adventure upon which he embarks. On this journey, his spirit is transformed from Mouse, to Jumping Mouse, to Eagle through tests and deeds that had to be performed. During the tale, Mouse overcomes his reservations, gains additional perspective regarding other beings, and decides that a personal sacrifice to help beings seen as Greater than himself is the right thing to do. He is therefore rewarded handsomely through a transformation into Eagle after relinquishing both of his eyes to heal two characters, Buffalo and Wolf. Through this process, he learns multiple lessons.

How might the author make the myth sound effective or convincing? The author made this myth convincing by following essential methodologies for writing a hero’s tale. A cohesive story was told that followed a central “hero”, Mouse, and included additional characters to help the plot advance. As well, the myth included common story-telling details. For example, there was a call to action from Frog, a crucial low-point after losing his eyes, and a final resolution where Jumping Mouse is transformed into Eagle. Furthermore, the author implemented lessons, as Mouse developed spiritual maturity, gained appreciation for beings Greater than himself, and became more willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.

Secondly, the author may have utilized oral traditions common in primal religions that entail not inscribing the myth in text form. It can be reasonably assumed from the writing style that this story was transcribed as only one version of the tale, dictated and possibly translated into English directly, without any major alteration. This enhances the story’s ability to resonate with readers, as the assumption that the story is just as it would be told increases authenticity and legitimacy.

Why might the author have chosen to create this myth? The author may have created this myth to highlight two major features in Primal religious teachings: animism and embeddedness. It emphasizes animism as Mouse recognizes that Buffalo and Wolf are “Greater Beings” and that all animals and places such as the Great River and Great Medicine Lake have spirits. It further accentuates embeddedness since the spirits highlighted in the tale are everywhere, as all characters and settings described have implied significance.

Secondly, this myth may have been fashioned to reinforce ideologies of faith, perseverance, trust, personal growth, generosity, and more. This is seen through growth experienced by Mouse as he completes his quest. He starts as extremely hesitant but enhances key attributes that are highly valued in primal religious teachings throughout his journey. For example, he demonstrates trust and faith by beginning the journey set forth by Frog, respect for elders through the way he treats Old Mouse, and generosity by relinquishing his eyesight for the sake of Greater Beings. The story highlights his personal growth and would show a community that by following these ideologies, surrounding spirits will ensure some form of benefits are reaped.


  1. Anonymous. 1994. “The Story of Jumping Mouse.” In The World’s Wisdom, by Philip Novak, 373-379. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. September 26, 2018

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