The Mouse Does not Know Life Until it is in the Mouth of a Cat.
The Vietnamese are people of the Asian region and have a very productive nation thus mice are a common feature in their lives (Karnow 1997). Thus the relation and symbolism of using the mouse and the cat is derived from the actual experiences of these people. So is the use of them to paint a wider picture of life as may be perceived by the mice.
The scientific argument behind the proverb is the natural relation between the mouse and the cat where the cat is the predator and the mouse is the prey. This means it is just natural that the mouse will always fall victim of the cat wherever the two encounter each other. It creates the sense of superiority and inferiority for the cat and mouse respectively.
This creates two aspects the understanding of the mice of the world which may not make much sense once interpreted literally. The life of a mouse may never go beyond its environs which basically know there others like it and obviously the awareness of the predators such as the cat. But it is just that an awareness but when this mouse is captured by the cat it understands the meaning of a hostile world beside its calm and secure environs. Thus the Vietnamese in using these illustrations sought to explain life as that painful experience that on goes through while living, it is the existence beyond one’s comfortable setting.
The use of the cat as a threat to the mice is used to illustrate life itself where the cat represents this hostile and turbulent environment that exists. That which until you are there you cannot claim to have experienced life. (Dodd 2008).
No one gets to understand life which is characterised by ups and downs until they get to experience the harshest treatments from it. Just like the mouse gets the harsh treatment as a result of capture by the cat.
Dodd, J (2008). Vietnam and Vietnamese Culture: Vietnamese proverbs: http://www.adoptvietn am.org/vietnamese/proverbs.htm
, Retrieved on October 8, 2009.
Karnow, S (1997). Vietnam: A History 2nd edition, Penguin Publishers.
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