The Wind in the Willows (Grahame, 1908) is a classic children’s story about four anthropomorphised (humanized) animals and their relationships with each other and society. It is full of good dialogue and humor. The main characters are good-natured Mole, hospitable and worldly Rat, the wise Mr. Badger and Toad; rich, spoiled, obsessive and conceited.
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Set in rural England, the changing of the seasons and the natural enmities among animal groups show the power natural laws. Created equal, animals have also to find and nurture their relationships and environments.
There are many examples given of the positive laws applied. The story shows that when a misdemeanor is committed, there is a corresponding punishment. When Toad, obsessed with motor cars, ended up with crashes, injury to himself and complaints to his overspeeding, his friends forcibly take him under their control to improve his moral values. However, he runs away, steals a motorcar ws caught and imprisoned. Toad learns that within the legal system, corruption existed because he was offered by the prison guard luxuries and the chance to escape in exchange for a fee. Elements of the law were also presented as efficient but a bit slow to action.
Police officials that pursued Toad after he escaped from prison used a train (which cannot overtake another train) to pursue the train that he was riding. In another scene where Toad escaped from the car which he drove and crashed, the policemen running after him did not catch him as he, fortunately, got carried away by the river current. Even when Toad was already living in his hometown, no case was filed against him based on his newer escapades. However, Toad was not able to avoid paying back those he wronged because his friends Mr. Badger, Rat and Mole made sure that he made amends to those he fooled during his escape from prison.
Toad is totally irresponsible and uncaring of the consequences of his actions. He is like a spoiled child who has never been disciplined for his naughtiness. Conceited, he thinks that everyone appreciates him and by this, he also shows that he is clearly in need of attention and understanding. Mr. Badger acts like an indulgent father who tolerates Toad but only up to a certain point after which, he imposes sanctions on Toad. Mole and Rat are the best of friends, showing concern for one another. Toad’s friends put up with him because he has an inherently good nature except when he is overtaken by his obsessions and desires. Before the story ends, Toad changes for the better with the help of his good friends.
The story teaches the child to love nature and animals. A child reading this story would find many lessons; among the greatest would be about nurturing friendships, taking care of those you love, being loyal and having the courage to do what is right for your friends.
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