Title and Author: “The Letter” from Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
Field of Philosophy: Logic; Aesthetics
Plot Summary: Every day Toad waits patiently for the mail to arrive, but he never receives any mail. Toad tells Frog he is sad that he never receives mail. Toad decides that he will stop waiting for the mail each day, concluding that he shall never receive mail given that he has never received mail before. Meanwhile, Frog secretly sends Toad a letter, and tries to convince Toad to keep waiting for the mail. Frog tells Toad that he has sent him a letter, and he tells him what the letter says. Toad finally receives the letter several days later, and he feels very happy.
Some discussion questions:
Toad concludes that he will never receive mail in the future given that he has never received mail in the past. Is this conclusion correct?
Imagine that Toad doesn’t receive any mail for fifty years. At that point, would it make sense for Toad to stop waiting for the mail? Why or why not?
Would it be correct for someone to argue that it will never rain chocolate chips by pointing out that in all of recorded history, it has never rained chocolate chips?
Why is Toad happy to receive a letter from Frog even though he already knows exactly what Frog’s letter was going to say?
Have you ever written a letter to a friend or family member? How is writing a letter different from sending an email or calling someone on the phone?
Imagine that you try to communicate something to someone else using different methods of communication: telling someone in person (speaking), sending that person an email, sending a text message, and writing a letter. Does the method we use to communicate something influence the meaning of what we are communicating?