"Dragons and Giants" from Frog and Toad Together
By Arnold Lobel, Harper Collins
Frog and Toad have been reading stories about brave people who fight dragons and giants. Toad says that those people were brave because they were never afraid. In order to see whether they are brave, Frog and Toad set off to climb a mountain. On their climb, the encounter a number of dangers: a snake who thinks they are his lunch, a hawk who would like nothing better than to eat them, and an avalanche that threats to flatten them. As they run back to Toad's house, they keep saying that they are not scared. But are they? And would being scared mean they weren't brave? These are the sorts of questions raised by this delightful story.
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion of Dragons and Giants
By Gareth B. Matthews, revised by Marissa Saltzman
Our society puts tremendous value on any number of given characteristics. For instance, most people have felt some sort of pressure at some point in their lives – either to do certain things or act a certain way. Courage and bravery are two of these values that are often emphasized as positive traits – we are told that they lead to strength and success. However, these categories are not clear cut, and can be defined in several ways. This can lead to confusion, a sense of failure, and poor decisions. It is important to examine our definitions of courage and bravery and explore the multitude of ways that one can exhibit these qualities and gain a sense of contribution and achievement.
The first set of questions deals with the appearance of someone who is “brave.” Some people may attribute certain characteristics to someone who is brave – for instance, muscles or other signs of physical strength. Other people may focus on the individual’s stance – for instance, straight posture, strong eye contact, confident gait, or anything that indicates that the person feels self-assured, and thus, brave. Some people, however, may argue that one can be brave without looking any different, they may even look less confident. These people may put greater emphasis on the individual’s actions, words, and behavior, rather than appearance.
The second set of questions deals with how we define bravery and courage. Some people may believe that to be brave means to never back down – to be fearless and do anything. Others may disagree and argue that such a mindset can be reckless and unproductive. They may insist that being brave and courageous is to not let others dictate your actions or define your values. Rather, being brave is choosing for yourself how you want to live, which battles you want to fight, how you will react to various situations. These people may consider blatant dare-devilness and unconditional “bravery” to actually indicate a level of weakness. It is much easier to go with the crowd than it is to stand up for yourself and stick to your own decisions. Furthermore, some may insist that bravery is not something you can go out to find. Rather, one displays courage by handling situations to the best of their ability, remaining true to themselves, and making decisions that are both thoughtful and right for them. Everyone is capable of different things, and this may change at different points in life. Thus, it is impossible and futile to try to place one action over another.
The last three sets of questions explore additional qualities of bravery. Some people may believe that one is only considered brave if others identify him as so. Others may place emphasis on the individual’s perception of himself. Furthermore, some people may feel that in order to be truly brave, they must not exhibit any signs of fear. Other people however, may argue that reversing to a moment of fear does not detract from the brave moment. Instead, it could even make the person braver – it could show just how brave they were. It also may be necessary for someone to take a moment to re-gather his nerves.
It is important to explore the notion of bravery and courage, and it is useful to see how there can be several variations and aspects to the definition. We all want to be contributing members of society and lead meaningful lives. It is important to instill in people a feeling of self worth and value. By gaining a deeper understanding of our own thinking and the thinking of others, we can become stronger individuals and a stronger community that values the bravery of every member, regardless of what form that bravery takes.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion of Dragons and Giants
Frog and Toad look in a mirror to see if they are brave. Frog says they look brave. Toad asks if they really are brave.
The nature of bravery
Frog says that trying to climb a mountain should tell him and Toad whether they are brave.
Perception of bravery
In the story, Toad says that he is not afraid.
Bravery and fear
When the snake tries to eat Frog and Toad, they jump away and Toad starts shaking.
Understanding bravery and time
When Frog and Toad get back to Toad's house, Toad jumps into bed and pulls the cover up over his head. Frog jumps into the closet and shuts the door.