The Dragon Rock: Summary, Characters & Analysis

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Can a rock spring to life and save an entire town? In a child's eyes, anything is possible! This lesson will focus on dissecting the short story 'The Dragon Rock,' as well as looking at the characters who occupy the village.

Faith of a Child

Somewhere along the way, you've probably heard mentioned the importance of having ''faith like a child.'' If you think about it, a child's faith is typically much stronger than an adult's - maybe because they have not yet suffered true disappointments or been scarred by life's problems. Children believe in Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy, simply because of childlike faith or perhaps a touch of naivete.

In the Ellena Ashley short story, ''The Dragon Rock,'' it is the children who continue believing in the legend of the dragon awakening to help save their town. They believe it so much, in fact, that they band together to awaken the dragon, while the adults sit by, angry and resentful.

Let's take a closer look at the story, the characters, and the intent of this magical little tale.

The Story of ''The Dragon Rock''

The story begins with ''once upon a time,'' because, the author says, ''the best stories do,'' and proceeds to lyrically describe the setting of the village at the center of the tale: ''a steep sided valley cluttered with giant, spiky green pine trees and thick, green grass that reaches to the top of your socks so that when you run...''

The people of the valley are happy, work hard, keep things tidy, and take good care of their children.

The problem is, the weather is hot - unbearably hot, in fact: ''By two o'clock in the afternoon, the town would be in a haze of slumber, with grandmas nodding off over their knitting and farmers snoozing in the haystacks.'' Nevertheless, it doesn't stop the children from playing and having a good time.

The Rock

One of the most favorite spots in town, for children and adults alike, is a ''large, long, scaly rock that looks amazingly similar to a sleeping dragon.'' The children like to play on it, while the adults use it as a setting for chopping firewood or hosting a weaving group.

The legend of the dragon rock, turned into a poem handed down through the years, is this: ''In Times of Trouble, The Dragon will Wake, And Free the Village, By making a Lake.'' And, indeed, the valley found itself in a time of trouble: it has not rained for a very long time. The wells were running dry and everything was turning to a hot, dry brown.

Doubting or Believing?

The adults of the valley become more frustrated and angry that the legend of the dragon rock has not been delivered. They surmise that the story cannot be true. Yet, the children carry on, convinced the dragon will come to life and help them; they were all in agreement on that.

A week passes and the children hatch a plan. They gather flowers from around town, and build a circle around the dragon rock. The wind blew and, suddenly, the dragon starts to move: first, a nostril, then an ear. Finally, the dragon raised his head and let out a giant sneeze.

The impact of the sneeze ''split open the dry earth, sending explosions of soil and tree roots high into the sky like missiles...'' Suddenly, water poured from the open earth. It ruined a lot of things in town, but nobody cared because there was water again.

Every year thereafter, the townspeople celebrated ''Water Dragon Day'' for the dragon who helped them with only a sneeze.

Dragon Rock Characters and Analysis

This is an interesting story from the standpoint of characters because most of the references to the townspeople divides them into one of two categories: adults or children.

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