The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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2016/17 Group Reads - Archives > The Wind in the Willows - Ch 7-9

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message 1: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1901 comments Mod
This section present us with 3 very different chapters.

Chapter 7 appears to touch on the magic or mystical at the heart of this imaginary world, and left me with more questions-there is a loss, a search and then a finding of something extraordinary. How did you interpret this chapter?

Chapter 8 shows us Toad's imprisonment and escape, with the help of possibly kind, possibly opportunistic acquaintances. This chapter is perhaps the height of the animal-people-machines melange. Did this chapter make it easier to reconcile this aspect of the book, or did it worsen it?

Chapter 9 is a meditation on the thrill of adventure and discovery versus the joys of home and of the familiar. Grahame has extolled the simple pleasures of home and hearth and stressed the dangers of straying too far up until this chapter, but now we see things from the wanderer's point of view. Is he convincing one way or the other?


message 2: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments Ahh, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”—at last! May I say that I adore this whole chapter, for me the best children’s lit writing ever?

I love the emotion and tension about the lost little one, the quest through the darkness, the coming of light and then the coming of Light, the kindness and the mystery and awe of Pan (or Cernunnos, perhaps, in any case the god of the creatures), the sense of loss as the sacred disappears and the quotidian returns. So much in this chapter. I love how the real world (well, okay, real in terms of the book) becomes magical and then real again. How the animals forget but a part of them remembers.

It seems at some points to be Christian allegory, but for me it rises above that specific level to become a direct expression of the numen. What more could a good pagan ask for?

All that said, chapter 7 sticks out like a sore thumb in the book, doesn’t really go with the rest.

P.S. It’s better in English than in Latin. I’d try it in Greek—if I knew any Greek.


message 3: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou Abigail wrote: "All that said, chapter 7 sticks out like a sore thumb in the book, doesn’t really go with the rest."

YES. I couldn't enjoy because it doesn't seem as though it's part of the story. And if I'm honest, the image of Pan creeps me out a bit. I may have enjoyed it more if the otter had been a more prominent character throughout the story, and Pan hadn't been an actual, physical presence.

For the same reason, I didn't enjoy Wayfarers All. It was a bit of a jolt. Here I am, thoroughly enjoying the English countryside and the thought of having tea with Mole and Rat, and all of a sudden some interloper is trying to take Rat away from us with tales of exotic, foreign lands! As I was listening in the car at the moment when Rat was seemingly in a trance and preparing to hit the road, I said out loud, "Where the heck is Mole?!" The very next sentence was, "...he stepped across the threshold just as the mole appeared at the door." I was never so happy to see a character arrive on the scene!

Seemed as if Grahame had other stories to tell, and he just inserted them here. I noticed that the abridged version I own, with the lovely Inga Moore illustrations, completely deleted these chapters.

As for Chapter 8 - what a delight! I laughed throughout at Toad in drag, and his interactions with everyone. This passage, of Toad and the gaoler's daughter, made me feel all cozy and happy inside. Perhaps that's why the Wayfarer bothered me so much.

When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in it in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over, and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.


message 4: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
Even though chapter seven had a different mood than the previous chapters, I enjoyed it. The descriptions of nature and the mood evoked are very special, especially when they find little Portly safe and sound. As the chapter ends I can still here the lingering word "forget" as they carry on with their lives.
The washerwoman Toad chapter is so much fun, and horrible for Toad when he discovers that he left all his money in his clothes, and is poor(at least temporarily).
I hope he feels proper gratitude towards the kindly engine driver who let him escape.
As for chapter nine, I liked the descriptions of all the creatures actions in the fall, but the sea-rat's tale seemed out of place in this book, especially all the details of his journey. I just wanted him to end so that we could get back to Rat, Toad and Mole. As the book progresses, I am growing very fond of Mole.


message 5: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments Didn’t someone say that the book was born from bedtime stories Grahame told his son? That may account for the sense of discontinuity in this section. It will be interesting to see if he pulls all the threads together in the end. (It has been too long since I read the whole book for me to remember.)


message 6: by Karel (last edited Jul 16, 2016 11:36AM) (new)

Karel | 86 comments Abigail wrote: "...the kindness and the mystery and awe of Pan..."
Oh, for the Greek ancient gods, of course it was PAN, thank you for clarifying that! When I read this chapter I didnt understand the appearance until I saw the illustration of a faun, but I didnt get it was the greek god Pan. I found endearing that Otter couldnt speak that she feared that little otter was dead (because of the protocol) but Rat and Mole try to help anyway. Rat is such a good friend to everyone, I really like him.


message 7: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1418 comments Mod
I had a substitute class on Monday right across from one of the most beautiful parks in Prague, and the previous class was cancelled, so I spent that time in the park reading chapters 7 and 8. What a perfect place to read this book! I really enjoyed these chapters.

Just one thing about Toad - yes, i know, we have to suspend our disbelief in these kind of stories, and although it was difficult, I was able to do it with Toad dressed up as the washerwoman. But, he's going home! Wouldn't that be the first place the police go to look for him? Wouldn't he have to become a fugitive or something? Maybe that will be addressed in the last few chapters; I've been good and haven't read ahead.


message 8: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1418 comments Mod
Oh right, I remembered what I was thinking about Rat. As I was reading about him and the Seafaring Rat, I was thinking of the parallels between this possible excursion and that of Mole. Mole left his home and came to live with Rat, with very little encouragement needed, in search of adventure. I really thought Rat might do the same and go to sea. I'm still wondering if he's going to go later. I'd hate to see him go (and poor Mole and Otter if he does!), but it would be an interesting arc for him, especially since the book is about to end.


message 9: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 16, 2016 04:13PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Abigail wrote: "...the sense of loss as the sacred disappears and the quotidian returns. ..."

I missed something. Could you please explain this?


message 10: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments I was deeply moved by Rat's depression and grief over the road not taken. I'm not sure why, maybe because I've taken the wrong road so many times and regretted it.


message 11: by Karel (new)

Karel | 86 comments Lori wrote: "Just one thing about Toad - yes, i know, we have to suspend our disbelief in these kind of stories, and although it was difficult, I was able to do it with Toad dressed up as the washerwoman. ..."

I loved the jailbreak of Toad, that must be a really huge toad and a very short (and old and green) washerwoman so the men didnt recognized him. I just went for it because it was so funny. I hope that when he finally gets home, mails money for all the people that helped him.


message 12: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments I never thought of that. She must have been green too.


message 13: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
Isn't there an expression "green around the gills"? But toads come is mottled brown colour as well, more like a weather- beaten face.


message 14: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Mary Lou wrote: "I couldn't enjoy [chapter 7] because it doesn't seem as though it's part of the story. And if I'm honest, the image of Pan creeps me out a bit.."

I agree that it didn't fit in the story at all, and detracted from the flow of events.

But, viewed as an independent story, on its own merits but just borrowing the characters of the book, I agree with Abigail that it was beautifully written on the classic themes of loss, parental love, a quest, the value of friendship, and the magic of spirits of ancient Britain, it was wonderful. Pan didn't bother me because I was brought up on Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill, which is Puck and not Pan, but same idea.


message 15: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Rosemarie wrote: "...the sea-rat's tale seemed out of place in this book, especially all the details of his journey. I just wanted him to end so that we could get back to Rat, Toad and Mole. As the book progresses, I am growing very fond of Mole.."

I agree on both counts. Rat and Mole are a great example of the interaction of best friends; sometimes Rat takes the caring role when Mole is temporarily not "with it" (as in the incident when Mole finds his old home); this time it is Mole who takes the caring role and helps Rat get over his temporary mesmerization. They are just what best friends should be.


message 16: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Abigail wrote: "Didn’t someone say that the book was born from bedtime stories Grahame told his son? That may account for the sense of discontinuity in this section. .."

Good point.


message 17: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Mary Lou wrote: "This passage, of Toad and the gaoler's daughter, made me feel all cozy and happy inside.."

But of course the gaoler's daughter was very, very naughty. I fear she is in for some serious trouble -- and so, probably, is her father.


message 18: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments Rochelle wrote: "Abigail wrote: "...the sense of loss as the sacred disappears and the quotidian returns. ..." I missed something. Could you please explain this?"

I was thinking of this passage:
“When they were able to look once more, the Vision had vanished, and the air was full of the carol of birds that hailed the dawn.
“As they stared blankly, in dumb misery deepening as they slowly realized all they had seen and all they had lost, a capricious little breeze, dancing up from the surface of the water, tossed the aspens, shook the dewy roses, and blew lightly and caressingly in their faces, and with its soft touch came instant oblivion. For this is the last best gift that the kindly demigod is careful to bestow on those to whom he has revealed himself in their helping: the gift of forgetfulness. Lest the awful remembrance should remain and grow, and overshadow mirth and pleasure, and the great haunting memory should spoil all the after-lives of little animals helped out of difficulties, in order that they should be happy and lighthearted as before.”


message 19: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
Abigail, I think that is a beautiful passage-the words and the thoughts behind it.


message 20: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments Wayfarers All was my favorite chapter in the book so far.

I could feel for Ratty - everyone leaving around him, and he has never been anywhere. He's happy, but he does wonder what is out there that entices those around him. And it makes him angry that everyone is leaving.

I could really relate to the story. I live in New England, and people leave all the time to go South or West, where it is warmer, places people insist are "better." But I love New England, and I've lived in warmer states, and wasn't all that impressed. So, even though I did it myself, I get a bit annoyed when I hear people saying how they can't wait to leave for greener pastures (quite literally).

But it also stirred up the urge to go explore again myself. Maybe the Rat should have gone and then come back. As Dr. Seuss said, oh the places you will go!


message 21: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments For the record, I love Toad. He's so irresponsible and so arrogant and proud, but deep down, he's a good guy. And then when he cries when Badger or someone else calls him out, you know he means it at the time, but in the next second, he'll go back to being...well, Toad.


message 22: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou Lynnm wrote: "I could feel for Ratty - everyone leaving around him, and he has never been anywhere. He's happy, but he does wonder what is out there tha..."

You make me want to rethink this chapter. I rarely travel - for a number of reasons - but am often a bit envious of friends and family who plan fabulous trips and post amazing photos on Facebook. (The photos from the long flights and of the large credit card bills are never shared for some reason!)

I guess the difference is that the trip I dream most about is England, and that's what Rat is escaping from!

(PS One of the reasons I haven't bitten the bullet and taken an British vacation is that I'm pretty sure the reality won't live up to what's in my head. I'll be expecting Herriot's Yorkshire Dales, Dickensian Christmases, and Elgar, but may well end up with Benny Hill, Coronation Street and the Sex Pistols! I did go there when I was young -- back in the early 70s -- so I have some vague memories.)


message 23: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments Mary Lou, I get your concern, but you might try going to the Lake District (I went with friends, flying in and out of Glasgow, and it was absolutely delightful and as English as anything in your imagination!). As a bonus we spent a couple of days in Yorkshire, and it happened to be at the time of the caravans--thousands of people on the roads in little horse-drawn gypsy wagons, quite fascinating!


message 24: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou Abigail wrote: " you might try going to the Lake District (I went with friends, flying in and out of Glasgow, and it was absolutely delightful and as English as anything in your im..."

Thanks for the recommendation!


message 25: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 18, 2016 03:57PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Lynnm wrote: "I could feel for Ratty - everyone leaving around him, and he has never been anywhere. He's happy, but he does wonder what is out there tha..."

You make me want to rethink this chapte..."


A portion of the Lake District had been owned by Beatrix Potter, and she designated that it must not be developed. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think she left it to the National Trust.


message 26: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Lynnm wrote: "For the record, I love Toad. He's so irresponsible and so arrogant and proud, but deep down, he's a good guy. And then when he cries when Badger or someone else calls him out, you know he means it ..."

I don't care for him. Frog is an acquired taste ;-)


message 27: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments I believe you’re right, Rochelle! I got to visit Beatrix Potter’s house when I was in the Lake District, and it’s quite interesting. She was a proto-environmentalist, and also the first collector of children’s book art. Both interests are reflected in her house, which is mostly kept as it was when she lived there; it is as if she had just stepped out for a walk.


message 28: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Lynnm wrote: "Wayfarers All was my favorite chapter in the book so far.

I could feel for Ratty - everyone leaving around him, and he has never been anywhere. He's happy, but he does wonder what is out there that..."


I didn't see that anyone was leaving except the Sea Rat.
There's something about Rat's grief that was heart-wrenching to me, and I still get sad just picturing it.


message 29: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou Rochelle wrote: "Lynnm wrote: "For the record, I love Toad. He's so irresponsible and so arrogant and proud, but deep down, he's a good guy. And then when he cries when Badger or someone else calls him out, you kno..."

I've been thinking about this. I can't very well say that I LIKE Toad. He's flighty, self-centered, entitled, etc., etc. But I do ENJOY Toad. I find him really entertaining and, deep down, kind of lovable. Like Archie Bunker. Whether they're right or wrong, I can't help but laugh!


message 30: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 18, 2016 06:31PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Abigail wrote: "I believe you’re right, Rochelle! I got to visit Beatrix Potter’s house when I was in the Lake District, and it’s quite interesting. She was a proto-environmentalist, and also the first collector o..."

She kept buying up more and more land for the purpose of preserving it. She must have been a good person. I missed the film, but a few years back there was a PBS documentary about her life.


message 31: by Everyman (last edited Jul 18, 2016 04:09PM) (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Lynnm wrote: "Wayfarers All was my favorite chapter in the book so far.,,,[Rat's] He's happy, but he does wonder what is out there that entices those around him."

I'm a Ratty who is happy to hear of the adventures of others but has no interest in following them. All the rest of my family are always going hither and thither and yon, here and there, never seeming to be happy where they are. My sister (from Seattle) right now is in China, and when she gets back will be heading for Main, and then for Virginia, and then for Hawaii. Anywhere but home! My brother-in-law (local resident, on those rare occasions when he's home) just spent four months driving across the country up into Newfoundland, got back a few weeks ago and is already planning to head up to Alaska. My niece, whose legal residence is in Hawaii, is in Thailand "finding herself" before her marriage this Fall. My other niece, who lives in Seattle, goes over to Europe once a month to spend time with her husband who has a temporary job in Sierra Leone.

And, to be honest, I think that I, who basically never go anywhere but travel from my armchair, am happier than any of them. Because what they always find is that no matter where you go, you take yourself with you. Whether in China or Thailand or London or Canada or Amsterdam or London or wherever, you can't escape yourself.

So frankly, Ratty is better off staying home and being content with his home, his friends, his family, and his library.


message 32: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments I've finished the book, and I feel like I've lost old friends. I might start again from the beginning.


message 33: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Mary Lou wrote: "The photos from the long flights and of the large credit card bills are never shared for some reason!"

LOL!! Nor do the ever tot up the greenhouses gasses they spew in to the atmosphere from all those flights, those rental cars driving all around, or the other environmental costs of their flitting hither and thither. (The worse ones are those who claim to be ardent environmentalists even as they pile up the frequent flier miles.)


message 34: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou Rochelle wrote: "I didn't see that anyone was leaving except the Sea Rat. There's something about Rat's grief that was heart-wrenching to me, and I still get sad just picturing it. "

In the beginning of the chapter, prior to Rat meeting the Sea Rat, he ran into birds and other critters who were all preparing to leave for the season. He was already feeling a bit lonely and left behind when he ran into the Wayfarer.


message 35: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I remember Ratty chatting with one of the birds who decided not to leave with the rest of his fellow birds who ended up leaving later anyway because of the cold and nasty weather conditions. He also said that they come back in the spring because they miss the English season of spring and the green woodlands, etc.


message 36: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments I was thinking just of his immediate friends.


message 37: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
Rochelle wrote: "I was thinking just of his immediate friends."

Yes, I can't see Mole going into the wide world. The visit in the Wild Wood had enough excitement for him. As for Toad, he is having an adventure and just wants to go home--and be himself again.


message 38: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Five bachelors who have a true and deeply felt friendship, and no interest in marriage or having kids. Looks perfect to me.


message 39: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments I scanned this in from my Tudor edition because I like the very human pose that she drew for Ratty. It's from Chapter 9.

http://i1066.photobucket.com/albums/u...


message 40: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I like the hand in the pocket.


message 41: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 18, 2016 08:55PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I like the hand in the pocket."

And I love many of her outfits. In the first pic of these, I think Ratty has a red handkerchief in his back pocket. In the next, Mole wears rubber galoshes. The Sea Rat wears an earring. She was a brilliant illustrator, and I'm going to look for her books:

http://www.kennethgrahamesociety.net/...

Does anyone else have some favorite illustrations?


message 42: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Rosemarie wrote: "As for Toad, he is having an adventure and just wants to go home--and be himself again. "

And just how long do we think that's going to last? [g]


message 43: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Rosemarie wrote: "As for Toad, he is having an adventure and just wants to go home--and be himself again. "

And just how long do we think that's going to last? [g]"


Until he gets bored!


message 44: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Being himself will last forever.


message 45: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou Everyman wrote: " no matter where you go, you take yourself with you. ... you can't escape yourself. ."

My daughter is in the Foreign Service, and at 28 she's already been all over the world - Pakistan, Congo, Nicaragua, Mexico, Dubai, Turkey, and on and on. When she's not traveling for work, she's traveling for pleasure, and gets very antsy when she's home for too long. So different than I am - like you, Everyman, I'm generally quite content to nest here. Part of it is just different personality and priorities, but I do think that, for her, there's also an underlying unhappiness there that she's trying to escape. And if I'm brutally honest, on my part there's probably an underlying anxiety that I'm trying to quell.

Who knew that one chapter in a children's book would prompt such introspection? :-)


message 46: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I like travelling in comfort-no camping for me. I really like trains and small ship river cruises. I enjoy watching the landscape roll by. I also like walking aeound new cities and towns and enjoying the atmosphere. I also love mountains.
But I am also quite content at home, near my family. No matter where I go, I bring a book.


message 47: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I really like trains .... No matter where I go, I bring a book. ."

Some close friends of mine recently had to travel from Seattle to Chicago, and took the train -- basically a 2 day (2 overnights) trip. They loved the train. But they didn't take a single book. They spent their time enjoying the scenery, following their trip on their GPS, and lots of meeting and talking to people. But no book.

I don't know whether I could have survived two days on a train without a book. Would I have gone mad? Just jumped off the train as it crossed a high bridge? I simply can't comprehend the possibility of spending two full days without a book. (I even take a book when I drive to town in case. It's my Linus blanket.)

But ... but .. do Mole or Rat or Toad ever read a book? If there are books in their world, I haven't noticed them. Does Badger ever read to pass the long winter nights alone? And if they did have books, what would they be about? Would they make up magical children's stories about people?

But here's where the magic of e-books comes in. An e-search says that Toad's caravan does have book-shelves, but no books are mentioned.

BUT, when Rat reasons about about the boot-scraper that Mole stumbled over, Mole exclaims "Well, I've read about that sort of thing in books, but I've never come across it before in real life." So Mole DOES read books! Hooray for him!!


message 48: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 19, 2016 11:06PM) (new)


message 49: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 19, 2016 01:52PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Everyman wrote" Some close friends of mine recently had to travel from Seattle to Chicago, and took the train -- basically a 2 day (2 overnights) trip. They loved the train. But they didn't take a single book. They spent their time enjoying the scenery, following their trip on their GPS, and lots of meeting and talking to people. But no book."


Given that we love being home too, there's also a lot to be gained from "lots of meeting and talking to people " and enjoying scenery.

There's more to traveling than being antsy or insecure. Some people learn a great deal about other people, countries and cultures by traveling. That distinguishes the tourists from the travelers., BTW. The tourists go to 5-star hotels and eat USian food, and stick with other USians in their touring.

If I have my head in a book the whole trip, I'm not learning anything new, and might as well stay home., unless I'm reading more about the area I'm in. On a trip, I generally read late at night, when there's not much else going on and I want to relax.


message 50: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 19, 2016 02:04PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments I love these pix. Badger is an older man, a father figure to everyone, and he's a little stooped. Another illustrator portrays Mole with eyeglasses.

https://lisawallerrogers.files.wordpr...

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&r...


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The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910

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