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The Story of Jaglon

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"The Story of Jaglon" is a short story by L. Frank Baum. It is the first of his Animal Fairy Tales, and was initially published in the January 1905 issue of The Delineator.

Summary

All the tigers have been driven out of the Wilderness, because of their cruel, treacherous, overbearing conduct. The remaining exiled tigers live in the barren outer circle of the wild lands. An infant tiger named Jaglon is orphaned when four days old; his parents disappear, fate unknown. The tiger fairies take pity upon Jaglon, sustain him and raise him until he can care for himself — though he is unaware of their invisible influence.

Jaglon matures into a powerful tiger, but also a beast of honor, courage, and animal virtue. He makes an enemy of a bat-witch who tried and failed to steal a carcass from him. The bat-witch spies on the tiger, longing for revenge; knowing him to be under fairy guard, she can only attack him if commits some wrong, violates the Law of the Forest, or displays cowardice. Jaglon, however, is not vulnerable to those faults.

The tiger decides to penetrate the heart of the Inner Circle of the Wilderness, and confront the opposition of the lions who rule there. As he goes, other animals advise him to flee; he does not heed them. He arrives when the reigning king of the beasts, the lion Avok, is confronting his council. Avok took the throne when his brother, the prior king, died; now he wants the crown to pass to his own cubs, rather than his brother's. This violates the Law of the Jungle. Jaglon challenges Avok, and they fight. In a ferocious contest, Avok is blinded, and leaps to his death in a nearby lake. Jaglon is the new King of Beasts. The tiger fairies approve of their favored one.

Critique

The story is powerful and effective, but has one obvious deficiency. The original villain, the bat-witch, disappears halfway through the plot, and is left with no dramatic resolution.

Background

Like the Forest of Gugu in The Magic of Oz, the Inner Circle of the Wilderness supports a varied wildlife — not only the animals of tropical jungles, but grizzly bear, bison, moose, and great serpents, and even unicorns.

Two other stories in the collection, "The Enchanted Buffalo" and "The Pea-Green Poodle," involve similar plots about the overthrow of tyrannical rulers.

In 1953, Jack Snow created an expansion and adaptation of Baum's story; it was published as Jaglon and the Tiger Fairies.

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