The Folk Tale behind the Poem The Camel's Hump



This is a summary of the tale called ‘How the Camel Got Its Big Hump’. It would be useful to

understand the background of the poem: The Camel's Hump by Rudyard Kipling.

Long ago when animals just began to work for man, there lived a camel in the middle of a desert
because he did not want to work. Presently on a Monday morning a horse came to the camel
with a saddle on his back and said “Camel, O Camel come out and trot like the rest of us”.
“Hump!” said the camel and the horse went away and told the man that the camel had refused.
Presently the dog came with a stick in his mouth and said “Camel, O Camel come and fetch and
carry like the rest of us”. “Hump!” said the camel and the dog went away and told the man that
the camel had refused again.

Presently the ox came with the yoke on his neck and said “Camel, O Camel come and plough
like the rest of us”. “Hump!” said the camel and the ox went away and told the man that the
camel had refused.

At the end of the day the man called the three animals and said “The ‘hump thing’ in the desert
refuses to work and the three of you should work double time to make up for it”. The
disappointed and angry animals met the Djinn (the magical creature) in charge of all deserts and
complained about the camel’s behavior. The Dijinn later met the camel and requested him to
work and told him “It is Thursday and to cover the three days, you should work without eating”.
But the camel only said “Hump” and no more. Finally the Djinn said, “If I were you I would not
say that again” and requested the camel to work. But the camel said “Hump” again, but no
sooner had he said this, his back began to puff and puff into a big lolloping hump. The Djinn
said “Today is Thursday and you have not worked since Monday. Go and join the three and
work”. The camel, though he refused at the beginning, later joined the three to work. And from
that day to this day the camel has always worn a hump. But he has never caught up with the
three days that he had missed at the beginning.

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