Chase, Richard. "Cat 'n Mouse!" The Jack Tales. Boston: Houghton, 1943, pp. 127-34. With one full-page drawing by Berkeley Williams, Jr. of Jack and his wife in a buggy. Jack's brothers take his money after their father gives each one a hundred dollars to go out and make the best of their money. Jack saves a girl who has been changed into a cat by a witch; her sister has been changed into a mouse. Jack destroys the witch in the fire, thereby winning the girl and a farm. With his pretty wife and riches, Jack upstages his brothers and their wives in the relatively long ending of the tale. Chase notes that this seems to be tale type 401, The Princess Transformed into Deer, and the three frightful nights in a castle are part of type 400. He also observes that the function of the talking fox is not clear and some parts of the oral tale may have been lost.

It is interesting that Jack defeats the witch by following the cat's advice to refuse her help with tasks, whereas he must allow the magic old woman disguised as a king to help him do chores in "Something Old, Something New" (told by Donald Davis), in order to get help that his brothers don't get. Also, Jack in this tale follows the cat's advice effectively, but he has to be reminded each time by the girl to follow her advice in the Davis tale.

Ward, Marshall. "Cat 'n Mouse" (1944). In McGowan, Thomas, ed. "Four Beech Mountain Jack Tales." North Carolina Folklore Journal 49.2 (Fall/Winter 2002): 69-115. Reprinted in honor of Thomas McGowan from vol. 26.2 (1978). Jack and his brothers get fifty cents in this version of the tale, and Jack sews his in his sleeve for luck after his brothers buy clothes with theirs. His brothers, who don't want him to follow them in his ragged clothes while they seek their fortunes, beat him and then try to kill him. But he revives and takes a fork in the road that leads to a castle, where he saves the cat girl by killing the witch and killing all kinds of animals that approach him in the night. In the end he pretends to be poor and dirty again, returning home like the Prodigal Son with his fifty cents, before he reveals that he has a rich wife in a carriage, while his brothers have each made thirty dollars and married ordinary wives. Jack forgives his murderous brothers and helps them live well. McGowan thinks Ward's claim that his ancestor Council Harmon got this tale from the Indians is probably an exaggeration. This article also includes Ward's "Jack and the Heifer Hide," with an introduction by Ward about his family's storytelling traditions (both collected 1977); and Ray Hicks' "Jack and the Three Steers" (1963) and "Whickity Whack" (composite of tellings from 1973 and 1974). Ward comments on his preference for telling stories to groups of children. McGowan gives notes on parallel versions, sources, and sound recordings of the tales.

"The Cat and the Mouse." In Hicks, Orville, and Julia Taylor Ebel. Jack Tales and Mountain Yarns, As Told By Orville Hicks. Illus. Sherry Jenkins Jensen. Boone, NC: Parkway Publishers, 2009. Afterword by Thomas McGowan. pp. 80-91. This book contains discussion of Jack and the Hicks storytellers by Orville, Ebel, and McGowan.

Haley, Gail E. "Jack and Katherine." Mountain Jack Tales. New York: Dutton, 1992.

"Jack and the Fox." In Isobel Gordon Carter. "Mountain White Folk-Lore: Tales from the Southern Blue Ridge." Journal of American Folklore 38 (1925): pp. 340-74 (this tale on p. 349). A landmark article containing Jack tales told by Jane Hicks Gentry (1863-1925), recorded by Carter in 1923. Carter comments on the decline of storytelling among mountain families who used to know them better, although they had not been recorded as ballads had. Jack has a pet fox with him when he wins a wife who makes him richer than his brothers, after he breaks the enchantment that turned her into a cat. The fox seems to encourage him to do what the cat suggests when he squeezes the fox and it says, "Gold enough." Jack fights off all kinds of varmints for three nights, from "a elephant to an ant," and then a pretty girl appears and marries him. The brothers show off their wives and try to outdo each other at the end. Available online through library services such as JSTOR. This tale is reprinted as story 25 in Frank A. de Caro, ed. An Anthology of American Folktales and Legends. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2009.

"Jack and the Cat." In Kidd, Ronald (comp.). On Top of Old Smoky: A Collection of Songs and Stories from Appalachia. Nashville, TN: Ideals Children's Books, 1992.

"Jack and Cat 'N' Rat." Photos at this link from Facebook page of Jack Tales Storytelling Theater of the Smoky Mountains. Jack defends Catherine against evil Catwitch and Ratwitch, who want to turn her into a cat. "Jack Tales Storytelling Theater of the Smoky Mountains originated at Clear Creek Campground in 1987." Facebook pages include photos and videos from a variety of tales. "Jack Tales Storytelling Theater is performed at Jack's Playhouse, located in the Adventure Bound Camping Resort (also known as Crazy Horse Campground), Highway 321, between Cosby and Gatlinburg, Tennessee" (accessed 5/1/10).

Related Appalachian Tales:

The Hainted House and Jack and the Hainted House

Jack's contest with a witch in Hardy Hardhead and with witches in the form of cats in Jack and the Sop Doll

Noteworthy Girls in Jack Tales for other tales in which smart girls help Jack or aid in their own rescue

Mutsmag for comparisons of the hero's relationship with mean siblings

"The Snake Princess" in Campbell's Tales from the Cloud Walking Country (1958; rpt. Athens:  U of George Press, 2000) and "The Bewitched Princess" in Ruth Ann Musick's Green Hills of Magic (1970; rpt. Parsons, WV: McClain, 1989) are about men marrying snakes that are enchanted princesses.

In Whitebear Whittington and The Frog King, the heroines go to live in mysterious houses with husbands who have been turned into animals.

"Nine Cat Tails." In Roberts, Leonard (collector). Old Greasybeard: Tales From the Cumberland GapIllus. Leonard Epstein. Detroit: Folklore Associates, 1969. Rpt. Pikeville, KY: Pikeville College Press, 1980. pp. 138-40. A widow with three children moves around their valley because of harsh weather conditions. The moon appears before her and tells her how to get a place that is not too hot, with not too much wind, and not too much or too little overgrowth. The woman uses moondust the moon gives her to catch nine cats who need their tails back. They attack a witch who had stolen them and the widow recovers their tails from the seam of the witch's petticoat, as the moon had instructed. They leave the witch for dead and break the spell she had put on the elements. The widow finds her children "playing in the flowers. The darkness had disappeared and the spell over the valley was broken. The widder woman lived there with her chillern ever after." Roberts could trace this tale to no known tale type or motif, but his Knox County informant in 1957 had heard it from her grandmother, who was born in about 1835.

"Jack and the Witch," an award-winning tale by a fourth grader, in Students Write Jack Tales. The witch helps Jack get a wife.

Compare with:

Cat and Mouse in Company, 1994. A new translation by Gary V. Hartman. The Jung Page. (C. G. Jung Institute Zürich), with interpretive notes. An online sample from The Loose-Leaf Fairy Tale Book, Hartman's work in progress translating Grimm tales. In spite of the similarity in titles, this is a completely different, quite cynical animal tale in which a cat pretends to be friends with a mouse but tricks it when they try to live together, and finally eats it.

Many other tales depict a father (often king) sending three brothers out to compete for making their fortune or finding the best wife.

When Jack has to fight off wild animals at night to save an enchanted lover, the tale is reminiscent of the Celtic ballad "Tam Lin."

This page created: 8/31/02   |   Links checked 3/6/04   |   Top of Page   |   Last update: 5/4/15


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