See Jack and King Marock page for one type of Jack Tale in which smart girls have prominent roles. Richard Chase's Jack Tales Appendix lists many variants of Tale Type 313C, The Girl as Helper in the Hero's Flight. Willie and the Devil has a very similar plot with a girl who instructs Willie in each task; a version from the James Taylor Adams Collection is reprinted at this link in AppLit.


See Jack's Wife - or - Jack and the Three Sillies. In Appalachia as in Europe, the noodlehead tale with three sillies may have either the man or the woman as the foolish main character and either a man or woman is astounded at this noodlehead's foolishness, usually sending him or her off to find equally foolish people.


"Jack's Daughter Annie." Told by Elizabeth Ellis at the 1993 National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, TN. Recording archived in the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. For details see "The Farmer's Daughter."


"Jack and the Giant." In Perdue, Charles L., Jr. Outwitting the Devil: JACK TALES from Wise County Virginia. Santa Fe, NM: Ancient City, 1987, pp. 53-55. Collected by James Taylor Adams in 1941 from Mrs. Bethel Lee Adams of Big Laurel, VA, who learned it from a Kentucky man. While staying in a haunted house, Jack finds a pretty girl when she wakes up from a sleeping dram given to her by a giant. They scare off the giant and rescue Jack's brothers, who were being fattened up in the giant's cave in the woods. The girl tricks the giant by standing in the road and then bargaining for the lives of the brothers when the giant thinks she's a "haint" and begs for mercy. On his wedding day, Jack stops being a marked boy who is "half boy and half dog."

Compare with Sleeping Beauty tales and Beauty and the Beast tales (including the Appalachian "Whitebear Whittington" and its variants) and other strong women tales.


"The Time Jack Got the Wishing Ring," in Donald Davis, Jack Always Seeks His Fortune, and Jack and the Fire Dragon by Gail E. Haley. Both Davis and Haley make the girls whom Jack rescues more articulate, level-headed and unselfish advocates of moral strength than the girls in Chase's "Old Fire Dragaman."

See "Old Fire Dragaman" for details on these variants of the fire dragon tale.

Compare with Grimm Brothers, "The Gnome." Tale Type 301A, The Quest for the Vanished Princesses.


"The Time Jack Solved the Hardest Riddle" in Donald Davis, Jack Always Seeks His Fortune: Authentic Appalachian Jack Tales. Little Rock: August House, 1992. Davis notes that the tale is similar to the one told by the Wife of Bath in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

See Appalachian Riddles page for more on this tale, in the section on Riddles in Folktales.

Compare with parallel tales featuring the "loathly lady," including Chaucer's "Wife of Bath's Tale" as well as as:

Hastings, Selina. Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady. Illus. Juan Wijngaard. NY: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 1985.

"Gawain and the Lady Ragnell" in Ethel Johnston Phelps's feminist anthology The Maid of the North. While Phelps observes that it is "refreshing" to find a medieval tale with a romantic plot putting a positive emphasis on "a woman's right to freedom of will and choice" (xiv), Donald Davis's Jack tale is remarkable because Jack embraces so spontaneously the woman's idea that friendship is most important between lovers.


"Raglif Jaglif Tetartlif Pole." As told by Leonard Roberts. In Jack in Two Worlds: Contemporary North American Tales and Their Tellers. Ed. William Bernard McCarthy. Chapel Hill:  U of NC Pr, 1994, pp. 168-203. With a photo of Roberts, an essay on Roberts and the tale, and a transcription of the oral tale that notes vocal and non-verbal features and audience responses. McCarthy identifies "Roberts's favorite story" as "a remarkably full version of" Type 313, The Girl as Helper in the Hero's Flight. A pretty girl helps Jack obtain magic help to complete three impossible tasks (including capturing wild horses) and escape from a man who threatens to cut his head off. The girl has learned "a little magic" from the old man while living with him. Jack and the girl need more magic to run away on a horse named Raglif Jaglif and then get married. Anne Shelby adapted this tale as "Molly and Jack," with the focus on her heroine Molly from the beginning of the book and throughout this tale, in The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and Other Appalachian Folktales. Illus. Paula McArdle. Chapel Hill: Univ. of NC Press, 2007. For more on Shelby's book, see Appalachian Folktale Collections K-Z.

"Raglif Jaglif Tetartlif Pole." In Roberts, Leonard (collector).  I Bought Me A Dog, and Other Folktales from the Southern Mountains. Berea, KY: The Council of the Southern Mountains, 1954. Small black and white drawings by Mary Rogers. Roberts notes that this Kentucky version of the story was almost lost during the century before he heard it, until a relative told him the tale that had been passed down through her branch of his family.

"Raglif Jaglif Tetartlif Pole." 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. 65-68. This version is shorter than others published by Roberts.

"Raglif Jaglif Tetartlif Pole." Told by Leonard Roberts in Raglif, Jaglif, Tetartlif, Pole [and Other Tales from Appalachian Tradition]. Audiocassette. Berea, KY: Appalachian Center, Berea College, 1993. Side 1: Raglif, Jaglif, Tetartlif, Pole; Irishmen Tales; Jack Outwits the Giant; Riddles. Side 2: Daniel Boone's Hunting Trip, Jack and the Bull Strap, Remarks by Dr. Roberts on Appalachian Region.

"Raglif Jaglif Tetartlif Pole" by Leonard W. Roberts. In Jones, Loyal, ed. Appalachian Folk Tales. Illus. Jim Marsh. Ashland, KY: Jesse Stuart Foundation, 2010.

"Raglif Jaglif Tetartlif Pole" by Leonard W. Roberts. In Jones, Loyal. My Curious and Jocular Heroes: Tales and Tale-Spinners from Appalachia. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 2017. Jones' introduction to Leonard Roberts observes that Roberts learned his favorite tale from his aunt and told it often; he recorded Columbia Roberts telling it in 1950. The version in this book is from a recording of Roberts telling it in a class taught by Jones at Berea College, 1975. Jones lists other versions published by Roberts as well, beginning in Mountain Life and Work in 1952.

"Raglif Jaglif Tetartlif Pole." Folkways Monthly, vol. 1, no. 2 (1963): pp. 52+

Davis, Donald. "Something Old, Something New." Audio recording in Jack and Granny Ugly. See Jack and the King's Girl and Jack and King Marock for details. As in "Raglif Jaglif Tetartlif Pole," the girl knows that a magic old tool instead of a new one must be used to accomplish the series of tasks that her father requires him to do. The girl has to keep reminding Jack to follow her advice as he tries the more useful-looking new tool each time. When the king tries to hide her in a group of girls, Jack learns that the one who looks old is the one he wants to marry.

"The Time Jack Went Up the Big Tree." In Davis, Donald. Jack Always Seeks His Fortune: Authentic Appalachian Jack Tales. Little Rock: August House, 1992, pp. 179-207. Davis calls this "the most imaginative story about Jack I ever heard... It is a long story which sometimes was not finished in one telling. The graphic images it called into my head as a child are still there" (p. 179). Jack is an adult who quits his job in a blacksmith's shop to seek his fortune. The success of his complicated adventures depends on help from an old woman, a princess, a witch's daughter who gives him detailed instructions and assistance to outwit her mother, and two magical horses that turn out to be sisters. After Jack helps the old woman carry wood and shares his food with her at her cabin, she says he'll find something to help his quest in the morning. He wakes up outdoors in unfamiliar mountains and climbs a giant tree that goes so high he can see the earth curve. Two little men share their lunch and show him a town where people call the tree "the world." They tell of mysterious things farther up so he climbs until he finds a young woman crying in a castle, who is glad to see him. She is held prisoner in her lifelong home, since a king who wants to marry her killed her parents. Being adventurous, Jack enters a forbidden room of evil in the tallest tower, where he inadvertently releases the malicious king in the form of an imprisoned bird. In his quest to rescue the princess from that king, he is helped by a wolf that tells him everyone there does shape-shifting, and the witch's daughter. His ordeals involve the witch's multi-colored pigs, the four winds, and very fast horses. Eventually Jack, the princess, and her castle magically end up at the cabin of the old woman he helped in the beginning. The giant tree has disappeared, so they marry and stay happily in the castle.

See also The Snake Princess and Cat 'n Mouse for enchanted females who tell their men how to succeed.


In "Jack and Granny Ugly" by Donald Davis (in Jack and Granny Ugly audio recording, August House Audio, 1997), several of Jack's magic helpers, including Shoot Well and Run Well, are females. These roles, as well as Jack, were often played by women when the Jack Tale Players performed "Hardy Hard Head," adapted by R. Rex Stephenson. See Hardy Hard Head. Storyteller Ed Stivender tells a version of "Hardy Hard Head" in which three of the magic helpers are women: Seewell, Hearwell, and Smellwell, and jokes are made about Jack's companions not all being "guys."


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