Doctor De Soto

The ethics of extraordinary situations can prompt remarkable innovation.

A dentist, who is a mouse, decides to be charitable to a fox with a toothache, but wisely prepares for duplicity.

Full Review

The obvious basis of this story has a victim being charitable to his would be murderer. Technically it is morally wrong to help someone bent on eating you, but this story entails an animal context –the rules are different. Each animal has his natural traits that cannot be changed. We might look on the fox as an undesirable human. Normally we would have little sympathy for him, but if he is hit by a car we are not going to leave him to die. De Soto’s charity can be interpreted as being of this type. The fox’s carnivorous habit does not make him as evil as a murderer.

At the same time de Soto grasps the risk inherent in his benevolence towards the fox and prepares himself for the worst. Ultimately the story does not make sense, but it encourages the young reader to consider a number of issues about the unjust behavior of the kind de Soto, about the wisdom of his protecting himself, and about the fox’s dropping context in desiring to eat his benefactor. The story is strengthened by de Soto’s ingenuity, and its demonstration that one should be cautious as to whom we are charitable.

The complications and morality of this story has considerable value that parents can discuss while reading to their child.