Otter and Odder, by James Howe, was introduced to me recently by one of my undergraduate students. The story is about Otter who, looking for food, falls in love with the fish he is about to eat. Told by his community that this is not “the way of the otter,” and characterized as “odd and getting odder,” Otter asks himself, “What is right? What is wrong? What is natural? What is the way of the otter?”
Can a fish love an otter, when the way of the otter is to eat fish?
The story inspires thinking about social norms and the forces that impact the way we understand the world, changing moral and social values, the meaning of community, what it means for something to be “natural,” the nature of love, and the relationship between individual desires and the demands of the community.