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The Four-Tusked Elephant – Four Levels of Interactions | Flax Golden Tales

The Four-Tusked Elephant – Four Levels of Interactions | Flax-Golden Tales

The Four-Tusked Elephant - Four Levels

The Four-Tusked Elephant – Armond Denis, Belgium (1896-1971)

Literal Comprehension

The narrator was camping in Congo with the two people, Putnam and Texan. In fact, the camp belonged to Putnam. They have heard about the four-tusked elephant living in the forest. He saw Putnam talking to the pygmies about the four-tusked elephant. The narrator wanted to know about it. He hypothesized that it lived very far from Putnam’s camp. Form pigmies’ conversation, he also knew that it could speak human language and was very much fierce. He decided to go there taking the help pygmies. After four days of their journey, he and pygmies saw a group of elephants in the jungle having every two tusks. Then the narrator stopped his journey.

After many months, he revisited to pigmy’s country. He stayed in a place, Butembo where in a hotel; Belgian sellers were talking about the four-tusked elephant. One seller revealed that he heard a bargaining between an agent and a tax office. Hearing his secret matter, the narrator again got curiosity on the four tasked elephant and went to talk to the tax officer to know more details about it. Tax officer said to him that he sent the tusks at Abba. After that, he talked to the Belgian administrator. The officer told him that Mumbai had given him all tusks to keep, but he would not tell him when and where he has kept.

Sad narrator decided to return back his name. later he found a skull buried in a ditch. He taking the skull went to New York Museum, he fitted the four tusks into skull’s sockets. Among four tusks, one of the tusks did not fit satisfactorily. So he still doubted in four-tusked elephant’s existence.


The story tells us that chances play important role in scientific discovery and invention. Sometimes, few chances really help scientists to draw a conclusion from their hypothesis. For example: in Armand Denis’s case, his search for the four-tusked elephant received a decisive boost from a chance conversation of four people in the language of Denis’s childhood. By chance, if he had not heard their conversation, he would get great difficulties to know the existence of the four-tusked elephant.

Not only this much, but there are also some others episodes where chance occurrences played a significant role in Denis’s ultimately successful quest for the four-tusked elephant. For example, he saw a skull buried in a ditch. He realized that it was the same thing which he was searching to know the reality. It means that he was searching the elephant’s head to know whether the four tusks would fit into it or not. If they were set in sockets of elephant’s head, they were of the one elephant; otherwise, the four tusks would be the tusks of the two elephants.

Critical Thinking

A Critical reader as he reads the text analytically, he finds many unconvincing ideas expressed in the story. For example, did the narrator really find the skull of the elephant in the ditch? Do we take an elephant rotten head very far just to know the existence of a four-tusked elephant? Can an elephant speak in a human voice? Is not the narrator’s quest of knowing about the existence of such animal absurd? Was he allowed to fix four tusks into the elephant’s skull in New York Museum?


After reading this story, I understood the value of chance in the time of scientific invention and discoveries. In fact, the quest of a four-tusked elephant made me remember a famous scientist, Newton who got curious to know about gravity as he saw a fallen apple on the ground. I also understood the benefits of single-minded activities in the time of observation and experiments. Due to the single-minded obsession, Denis, to some extent got success to make the research on the existence of a four-tusked elephant.

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