The other day I was reading an online magazine article and it seemed like an obvious plagiarism of another author’s short story, B. Traven’s Macario. The original version was later made into a movie.

Here are the similarities between the two stories:

Both take place in Mexico.
The main character is a poor peasant struggling to feed his family.
The peasant is constantly hungry.
He finally goes off alone to devour a meal, not wanting to share it with anyone.
While he is off on his own, he has three visitors, representing God, the Devil and Death, in that order.
Each asks to share his meal. God and the Devil are rejected but he decides to share it with Death

The differences are slight to say the least, such as:

The actual location changes from the Yucatan to the village where the author resides.
The original meal was a turkey, which was a gift from the peasant’s wife. The new version has him eating a stolen chicken.
Instead of going into the woods to eat his bird, he goes up the mountain side.

Even though it has been years since I read Macario, the similarities were so srtiking I immediately recognized the story.

Based on my information, would this be considered plagiarism?

Where’s the online version? Are they both based upon a common folktale? Does one reference the other?

So go ahead and E-mail the editor of the online magazine pointing out all the similarities that you’ve noticed. Give the editor the name of the story by B. Traven and the anthology in which it would be easiest for the editor to find the story. At that point it’s the job of the editor to worry about the plagiarism. You might want to contact the estate of B. Traven if you can figure out how to get hold of them. Figuring out whether there’s been plagiarism is a difficult job. Since we haven’t read both versions, I don’t see how we can be expected to comment on this.