Wind in the Willows

jenne at fiedlerfamily.net jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
Sun Jul 6 19:48:02 EDT 2003


> > I think the difference between getting into a poor neighborhood and a bad
> > neighborhood is generally quite marked.
>
> It certainly can be - though I've known quite a few that were both, I'm
> afraid. I don't think I mentioned poverty, so much as a 'rough' or 'dodgy'
> area, btw.

But it does matter. You seem to be arguing that the separation between the
main characters and the Stoats and Weasels is primarily one of class,
whereas I believe that the Stoats and Weasels are at best toughs and at
worst, well, criminal gangs of the 19th-century sort.

> I'd never thought of the WitW characters in this way, I'll admit.  The WitW
> characters certainly seem to be adult (except those specifically described
> as children, like young Portly), and even if they act in childish ways at
> times that's something many adults do - not least I suspect when possession
> of a private income relieves them of workaday reponsibilities. Are bullying
> and self-indulgence and pomposity  particularly childish traits? Then again,
> is it only adults who make class distinctions? Not in my experience, alas...

However, bullying, self-indulgence, pomposity, and inability to control
one's impulses are all significantly kid things, whereas class
distinctions are, well, things that are secondary to kids' behavior. In
other words, in children's social interactions, class distinctions tend to
be only one of the factors that determine how the groups divide up.

If you see the intended audience of WitW as a 5-8 year old boy, it's easy
to see Toad as the compendium of all the 'bad little boy' behaviors. He's
not malicious, just impulsive to the point of destructiveness, and simply
doesn't pay attention to the needs of others around him.

Of course, that leads into my personal theory that the upper middle class
and upper class culture of Victorian and Edwardian life encouraged men
never to grow up in a lot of ways. :)

-- Pani Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika   jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
"I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and
Henry knows we know it. *smiles* We're a knowledgable family." -- _Lion in
Winter_

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