Challenged by a talking hen

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I’ve been reading the Oz books with Rasine for about a year now. There have been some animal-friendly parts in the first two books, particularly with the Tinman, a gentle pacifist of a character that never wants to harm a living being.

We’re on the third book, Ozma of Oz and we came across an interesting passage where Dorothy’s own eating habits are challenged by a talking hen named Billina:

“What are you doing?” asked Dorothy.

“Getting my breakfast, of course,” murmured the hen, busily pecking away.

“What do you find?” inquired the girl, curiously.

“Oh, some fat red ants, and some sand-bugs, and once in a while a tiny crab. They are very sweet and nice, I assure you.”

“How dreadful!” exclaimed Dorothy, in a shocked voice.

“What is dreadful?” asked the hen, lifting her head to gaze with one bright eye at her companion.

“Why, eating live things, and horrid bugs, and crawly ants. You ought to be ‘SHAMED of yourself!”

“Goodness me!” returned the hen, in a puzzled tone; “how queer you are, Dorothy! Live things are much fresher and more wholesome than dead ones, and you humans eat all sorts of dead creatures.”

“We don’t!” said Dorothy.

“You do, indeed,” answered Billina. “You eat lambs and sheep and cows and pigs and even chickens.”

“But we cook ‘em,” said Dorothy, triumphantly.

“What difference does that make?”

“A good deal,” said the girl, in a graver tone. “I can’t just ‘splain the diff’rence, but it’s there. And, anyhow, we never eat such dreadful things as BUGS.”

“But you eat the chickens that eat the bugs,” retorted the yellow hen, with an odd cackle. “So you are just as bad as we chickens are.”

This made Dorothy thoughtful. What Billina said was true enough, and it almost took away her appetite for breakfast. As for the yellow hen, she continued to peck away at the sand busily, and seemed quite contented with her bill-of-fare.

It might be tough for even the most hardened meat-eater to justify their habits if they had to explain them to the animals they were eating.

One Response to “Challenged by a talking hen”

  1. nicole

    love this. x

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