“Why Reeds Are Hollow” Summary: Gabriela Mistral Short Story Synopsis

Why Reeds Are Hollow SummaryGabriela Mistral Short Story Synopsis
“Why Reeds Are Hollow” Summary

“Why Reeds Are Hollow” is a short story by Chilean writer Gabriela Mistral, who is known primarily for her poetry. It’s the legend of how reeds fomented a revolution among the world’s flora, including the effects of this on humans, animals, themselves and all the other plants. Mistral was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945.

“Why Reeds Are Hollow” Summary


A revolution once occurred in the world of plants. It was led by the reeds, and the wind spread the message to all plants, wild and domestic. The movement was in favor of equality of height. No other trait was tampered with, only height—all plants should be uniform at their heads. A few modest flowers objected that this was unnatural and prideful, but they weren’t taken seriously. An old poet condemned the movement in the name of beauty.


What happened? Earth spirits blew and worked an ugly miracle. One night, the shorter plants grew dozens of feet. People and animals were frightened and confused. The reeds laugh in their victory, now as tall as the eucalyptus.


A month passes with the new equality. A decline sets in due to the unnatural height of most plants. Some dry out, break, lose their blossoms to the wind, or droop to the earth. The reeds ignore or justify all these problems. When the potatoes grow pitifully, they take note. Insects can’t reach the blossoms to fertilize them. The humans and animals are running out of food. Only the naturally tall trees are thriving.

Finally, the reeds deteriorate from excess humidity in their roots and drying out elsewhere. In reaching upward, they’ve become hollow. With all this contradictory evidence, the philosophy of the reeds disappears.

Nature repairs the damage in about six months, and the plants grow again in their usual way. The poet appears and sings of the restored order, praising the variety in vegetation. Plants bear their fruit and humans and animals have plenty to eat.

The reeds are left with the mark of their disgrace—they’re hollow.

I hope this summary of “Why the Reeds Are Hollow” by Gabriela Mistral.