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What is the meaning of chasing a crooked shadow? I read Chase a crooked shadow in the Times of India newspaper, 10 Feb 2012, but could not understand the meaning of that title.

Some context from article:

There was a man who was so disturbed by the sight of his own shadow and so displeased with his own footsteps that he decided to get rid of both. The method he hit upon was to run away from them, so he got up and ran, but every time he put his foot down, there was another step, and all this while his shadow kept up with him too without the slightest difficulty. ... This parable is from the Chinese philosopher, Chuang Tzu. So many of our experiences, particularly during the impressionable years of childhood, are based on negative feedback on who we are ...

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Context. Please. –  simchona Feb 12 '12 at 4:56
    
@simchona: this was an article at Times of India . when i came across an article " The Speaking Tree". –  Krishna Chandra Tiwari Feb 12 '12 at 5:00
    
That doesn't help. Post more context in your question or this is going to be closed and downvoted. –  simchona Feb 12 '12 at 5:01
    
I'm not going to do work to find the context. If you want help understanding, you need to put it all here. –  simchona Feb 12 '12 at 5:04
    
@simchona: the title was on Times of India newspaper dated 10 feb 2012. at the "THE SPEAKING TREE". –  Krishna Chandra Tiwari Feb 12 '12 at 5:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Act in a Hypocritical Manner or Treat Symptoms Rather Than Causes

This reminds me of the skunk that insisted on staying put until the stink had left. In other words, one is focusing on symptoms rather than treating causes.

Evidently, the crooked shadow is a reason for offense. The quest to chase this shadow appears to be an attempt to rid oneself of its loathsome presence.

But like the skunk with the stink, the real problem is not the crooked shadow, but rather the entity that casts this crooked shadow.

So, in essence, the author is calling attention to the hypocritical behavior and attitude of the shadow chaser. In reality, if you want a straight shadow (something good) you have to straighten up (be good).

Goods begets good. Bad begets bad. You reap what you sow.

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Generally good answer; except hypocrisy is wrong word here; misunderstanding or lack of insight is not hypocrisy –  jwpat7 Feb 12 '12 at 15:17
    
In the case of the skunk there is no misunderstanding or lack of insight. By that analogy, there is none on the part of the shadow chaser, either. Showing empathy for the skunk will not encourage it to change behavior, the same may hold true for the shadow chaser. –  Jack Robbin Feb 12 '12 at 18:29
    
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the skunk story entails hypocrisy. It is a fallacy to argue that because the analogy entails hypocrisy, so does the article. I submit that the article discusses instances of misunderstanding and lack of insight, but not hypocrisy. –  jwpat7 Feb 12 '12 at 19:27

This is not a standard idiom in English, but rather the (catchy) title of a 1958 thriller.

Google Ngram Viewer shows no use before about 1968.

I don't think it has any deep meaning, and it doesn't relate in any way to the article in question.

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