The World on the Turtle's Back: A Look at Two Different Viewpoints of Creation
By Daniel Hallquist, published Nov 20, 2006
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Different cultures all have various accounts of creation. However, since the world can only be created once, the different accounts are similar in many ways. Two examples of different accounts of creation are the Christian account in Genesis, and the Iroquois account in The World on the Turtle’s Back. They have differences such as how the world was created, attitudes of humankind, and the authority of man over animals in the beginning. Their similarities are that they believe essentially the same thing.
Genesis and The World on the Turtle’s Back differ in several ways. Genesis says there is one God who existed before anything was created. The World on the Turtle’s Back states that there are many gods, who exist with almost everything already created. According to Genesis, in the beginning, everything is good, nothing is evil, there are no crimes such as murder, and nothing has yet been created. In The World on the Turtle’s Back there is already evil, as exhibited by the pregnant mother when she wants roots from the Great Tree, even though that is breaking the law. In order for there to be good, there has to be an equal amount of evil to create balance and harmony, whereas in Genesis the world is already balanced with no evil in it. The World on the Turtle’s Back also shows the animals capable of sustaining themselves, with man and animals completely independent of each other. In Genesis, man is placed in authority over animals, and is even the one who gives them names. The differences between Genesis and The World on the Turtle’s Back are more specific, whereas the similarities are more general and broad.
The similarities of Genesis and The World on the Turtle’s Back are few and general, but they show more about the story that do the differences. They both acknowledge deity, meaning they both believe in a supreme being or beings. In The World on the Turtle’s Back, there is the Great Tree, and in Genesis, there is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. These are both examples of a sacred tree. In both accounts, the woman corrupts man. In Genesis, woman is the first to eat the fruit, and then she gives it to her husband and tells him to eat it. In The World on the Turtle’s Back, the woman is pregnant and she keeps nagging her husband until he goes to get the roots from the sacred tree, even though it is against the law and customs to disturb or defile the Tree. Overall, the base of the story is the same, the only difference being the small details.
The core of both stories is essentially the same, showing that they both are derived from the same source, but have been changed through time. They are changed because of cultural differences, personalities of the storytellers, and forgetfulness. Stores are changed through the generations because the storyteller changes them to fit the culture that he or she is telling the story to, and so that the people will appreciate it more. The similarities between the Genesis account and The World on the Turtle’s Back outweigh the differences only because the differences show that the two accounts came from the same source. This means that one story is most likely true in general, and the other is correct and true.