The Stories of Pictures

Question

What sort of stories do basic pictures tell us? In this picture, from an objective viewpoint, we see two monkeys sitting on a bush. There is nothing explicitly telling a story, yet we are able to derive many different stories for this. Different people may see different things all from a picture of two monkeys perched on some foliage.

To me, it looks like the little monkey is pouting. He is slumped over and has his arms crossed around his legs, revealing a possible displeasure in his emotion. He looks immature through both his diminutive size and his youthful face, indicating that he might be having a tantrum like a 3-year old human. He refuses to look at the bigger monkey, who is also refusing to look at him.

What would the bigger monkey be saying? I think it is something along the lines of: “This isn’t mine…I don’t know this kid. I’ve never seen him before in my life.” He appears to almost be embarrassed by the behavior of the young monkey next to him. Through his appearance, we can infer that he is older due to his size, and through his age, we can infer wisdom.

Or could the story be completely different altogether? Maybe the little monkey is afraid and misses his parents and the older monkey is waiting around to look after him while they wait. Maybe they are a duo of expert pickpockets that are planning to relieve tourists from their wallets and are searching for their next target. So many different stories can be deduced from this picture, yet all it is is two monkeys sitting on a bush. We don’t actually know the ages of the monkeys, their personality, or their behavior, but we can use our creativity to put the pieces together and paint a picture in our heads.

What stories do you see when you look at this picture?

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