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“Rolls for the Czar” by R. Kinkead Essay

In “Rolls for the Czar,” by R. Kinkead, and in “What is Intelligence, Anyway?” by Isaac Asimov, intelligence assumes different forms. The two types of intelligence referred to are book smarts and quick wit. In the first story, Markov the baker demonstrates quick wit, while in the second story, Isaac Asimov ironically does not.

In “Rolls for the Czar,” Markov the baker, who we assume to be a simpleton, shows remarkable quick wit by cleverly saving himself from the Czar’s wrath. When the Czar found a fly in a roll that Markov had baked, he was furious. Markov’s reaction was incredible. He popped the insect in his mouth, ate it, and declared, “It is a raisin, Sire.” This clever reaction of Markov appealed to the Czar’s sense of humor and “he broke out laughing.” This saved Markov his life. Although Markov may not have been high class and educated, he possessed street smarts, which is definitely a form of intelligence.

In our world today, people tend to associate intelligence with book smarts. In “What is Intelligence, Anyway?” the author displays book smarts. He tells that when he took an aptitude test in the army he scored extremely well and says: “they made a big fuss over me.” While the normal score for the test was about 100, Asimov scored a grand total of 160! Today’s society assumes that if you do well on such standardized tests then you must be smart. In his article, Asimov points out that perhaps there are different forms of intelligence. He gives the example of his auto repairman who he had always assumed to be less intelligent than himself. However, after thinking the matter through, Asimov realizes that the fact that the repairman is such a wizard at fixing cars shows great intelligence on his part. When the repairman plays a clever joke on Asimov, he begins to ponder the matter further.

It is interesting to note that in both articles, ironically, the characters who we consider less important displays dazzling wit. Both Markov and the repairman show us that while they may not be college educated or well read, they can still think sharply and quickly.

In conclusion, I feel that reading these two works of literature should give us some food for thought. People whom our society label as stupid may in fact be quite brilliant. What I learned from these two short stories is simply to be more openminded towards people, and not to be so quick to label someone as “smart” or “dumb.”

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