The Friendly Mongoose


One of the most acclaimed stories and arguably, the best story to dissect stereotypes, The Friendly Mongoose consists of a rising action, climax, and a falling action. A rising action dives into the causes and leads to the climax while a falling action is an effect that takes place after the climax.

The rising action of the story begins with a family of three consisting of a father, a mother, and a new born. The father, also a farmer, decides that it would be appropriate for the family to have a pet and for the kid to have a companion so he convinces his wife to adopt a pet mongoose and care for it every day.

The climax comprises a set of circumstances and events with the mongoose and kid growing up together, the father and the mother growing to love the kid and the mongoose, and an unfortunate incident that follows.

One day, when both the father and the mother are out, the mongoose encounters a snake near the baby and brutally kills him. The mother returns unaware of the killing that took place in her home and finds the mongoose covered in blood. Scared that the mongoose killed her toddler, she retaliates by dropping her groceries on the mongoose and killing him. When she enters the house, she is met with the sight of the dead snake and realizes her grave mistake.

The falling action requires the reader to think about the consequences of their actions and to go against the preset notion of known stereotypes. The story asks the reader to use rationale to reach logical conclusions which often is impossible in times of emergencies and crisis. However, one can look at every possible answer before drawing a conclusion of their own.

Understanding the Story


The theme of the story centers around the concept of thinking before making a judgement. The story can be sectioned into three different themes considering the climax.

  • The first is thinking before making a judgement as aforementioned.

  • The second is to wait before taking an action.

  • The third is to question possibilities in a time of crisis.


The moral of this story is to help the reader understand the importance of ignoring stereotypes and trusting your loved ones.

In the story, the mongoose is a voiceless member of the family who is generally considered dangerous given his wild nature and his difference as an animal. The stereotype of him being dangerous is part of the reason why the mother assumes that he has killed her child. This leads to the death of an innocent mongoose who must have loved and cared for the family but was not trusted by the very people that he loved. Although the mother shows regret, it is in vain as the mongoose cannot see it.


The story is set in a village, inside the house of a farmer and his wife. Therefore, it supposedly harbours three members of the family and a pet animal.

There are five characters present in the story given as follows:

  • One father who is a farmer

  • One mother

  • A child

  • A pet mongoose

  • A deadly snake

The distinction is made between the human family and the pet in terms of who has a voice and who doesn’t. This voice is supposed to represent the lack of reasoning on the mother’s part as she thinks before she hears or she sees. The mongoose is supposed to represent the stereotype of being ‘dangerous’ while the mother represents a person who unconsciously believes in stereotypes.


In this tutorial through the story of “The Friendly Mongoose” we have established that it is of the utmost importance for a person to think before they act.


Q1. “Look before you leap.” How does the story justify the aforementioned statement?

Ans. The story clearly justifies the aforementioned statement as it builds it up throughout the story. The story begins by clearly distinguishing between the child and the mongoose where the child is looked at as an innocent being and the mongoose is looked at as a dangerous savage. The mother is inclined to believe that the innocent being is endangered by the dangerous savage in the house. This is why, the moment she sees the bloodied mongoose, she kills him.

Q2. The mother could have avoided killing the mongoose if she chose to trust the mongoose. Do you agree?

Ans. Yes. In the story, the robbers and the rishi exist in the same jungle. This signifies that good and evil exist in the same space. Furthermore, the birds know about each other’s existence as suggested and referenced in the text. The good bird talks about the bad bird when questioned by the king. Apart from the good and evil presence, the jungle also harbours a neutral presence in the form of the king. Therefore, it is only right to assume that the jungle or the space harbours a good, an evil, and a neutral presence.

Q3. What different stereotypes can you spot in the story?

Ans. We can see that the mother does not look at the pet mongoose as a member of her family because in a time of crisis, she looks at the animal as a dangerous savage who might have killed her child. Although it is absolutely normal to assume the same, given that the mongoose is a wild animal, it is also wrong to allow preset notions about something to cloud your judgement.

Q4. How do you think the scene would have played out if the snake was placed before the mongoose?

Ans. If the snake was placed before the mongoose and the mother had discovered the snake first, then the mongoose would have been rewarded greatly.

Q5. Why did the mother regret her actions in the end?

Ans. The mother realized the impact of her actions after the mongoose died. She had killed someone who was innocent and was only protecting her child out of love. This was not only cruel in terms of humanity but also cruel towards the child and the father who loved the mongoose immensely and would now struggle with the guilt of his death. She had not only wronged the mongoose but also the members of her family.