Using a rhetorical methodology, this essay argues that, rather than a narrative of character or of progression, animal fables are primarily narratives of symmetry and asymmetry, of balance and reversal that not only flip a story's composition, but upend its narrative and ethical assumptions as well. The success of the fable depends on the audience's willingness to be deceived, to be taken in by a narrative trick which keeps the distance between the telling and the told, the mimetic and thematic/synthetic functions of the story open and unresolved for as long as possible so that the narrative can complicate the stated or implied moral at its conclusion. Chuck Jones's Roadrunner cartoons exemplify the way animated film is particularly amenable to the exaggerations and spatial organizations inherent in the fable form particularly when used for a comic effect that complicates in rich and unexpected ways the ethical intentions of the story.


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pp. 146-162
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