The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

The Wind in the Willows
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2016/17 Group Reads - Archives > The Wind in the Willows - Ch 10-12

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message 1: by Deborah, Moderator (new) - added it

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4493 comments Mod
I'm opening this thread, and am sure Frances will be out here shortly to continue the discussion. In the meantime, here's the space for you to post your thoughts.


message 2: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
Thanks.


Karel | 86 comments Ok, so, in this 3 chapters:
X. The further adventures of Toad, in which he has a disagreement with a barge woman about washing methods, a lot of Toad´s songs (composed by himself of course), he learns to sell horses, he drives a car again and finally arrives to Rat´s house.

XI. Preparation for war. Badger as the brain, Mole as the spy, Rat as the arms supplier and Toad... well, he doesnt do much.

XII. The war for Toad´s Mansion, conquest, celebration and finally Toad learns to have some sense.


message 4: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I think the scene on the barge, where Toad actually has to wash clothes, is one of the funniest scenes in the book.


Karel | 86 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I think the scene on the barge, where Toad actually has to wash clothes, is one of the funniest scenes in the book."
I laughed a lot when the barge-woman grabs him and toss him to the river, I imagined her taking two legs of Toad and threw him in a spiral into the water.


message 6: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I can just see him sputtering and trying to get to shore.


message 7: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1902 comments Mod
Thanks, Deborah. I was in Algonquin Park for a long weekend and had no internet access.


message 8: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
Frances, I am glad you couldn't connect for a good reason- nature.
Did you see any wild creatures? A toad dressed up as a washerwoman, a rat in a boat or a mole being a spy, or a badger leading a battle?


message 9: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I like the titles of chapters 11 and 12: 'Like Summer Tempests Came his Tears' and The Return of Ulysses.
Mole shows his true abilities when he does his reconnaissance mission at Toad Hall, dressed as a woman. The compliment he receives from Badger is as follows:
Mole,....I perceive you have more sense in your little finger than some other animals have in their whole fat bodies."
Toad reacts in this way: The Toad was simply wild with jealousy, more especially as he couldn't make out for the life of him what the Mole had done that was so particularly clever."
And meanwhile Ratty is having a hectic and wonderful time get the weapons and equipment ready for the big battle.

Neat the end of the last chapter, as they are celebrating their victory, the narrator says, after Toad does not make a speech or sing a song,
"He was indeed an altered Toad!"

But for how long?


message 10: by Deborah, Moderator (new) - added it

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4493 comments Mod
Frances wrote: "Thanks, Deborah. I was in Algonquin Park for a long weekend and had no internet access."

You are very welcome. It was no problem at all.


message 11: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 25, 2016 10:54PM) (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3744 comments "Like Summer Tempests Came his Tears" is a quote from Tennyson. Took me a while to pinpoint it:
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem...


message 12: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 25, 2016 11:39PM) (new) - added it


message 13: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 26, 2016 12:04AM) (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3744 comments Inga Moore:
http://www.fulltable.com/vts/aoi/s/sh...

Robert Ingpen. I love Badger's sweater, making him younger than other illustrators pictured him. I could spend hours studying all the fine details in these pictures:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I...

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I...

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I...


message 14: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
Rocehelle, thanks for the poem. I knew it was a Victorian poet, but didn't know which one. My local library had a copy with the Robert Ingpen illustrations, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The Tasha Tudor illustrations you showed look lovely too.


message 15: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments I found these final chapters getting a bit out of hand. The earlier chapters were somehow quite believable, in a strange way -- out on the river, driving a motor car and caravan, are all quite credible events, even if having animals doing them takes a stretch of the imagination. And the barge scene, I agree with Rosemarie and Karel, was consistent with that sense of fun. Even with the theft of the motor car and going to prison, there was an innocence about it all. But somehow stoats with rifles destroyed the innocence, and a secret passage and a pitched battle with swords and pikes and other instruments of war really broke up for me the sense of reality and pleasure I had in the story. I wish he had ended the book with Toad getting home normally after the barge episode, and the four friends having a nice celebratory dinner without all the violence and unreality.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments I agree with you about being disappointed with the final chapters (and about feeling queasy about all the militarization), though my disquiet came from a somewhat different source. It seemed to me that the last chapters descended into slapstick—the whole comic-Odyssey trope—and what I missed from the earlier chapters was the spiritual aspect, if I can call it that. The sense of the river as a living being and the source of the animals’ life; the psychic connections among all the animals and between the animals and the place; the god who rewarded kindness; Mole’s connection to home. The trust and compassion. Those are the elements I connected to emotionally in the book, and those are the things that will stay with me.

Still and all, what an extraordinary piece of writing to devote to the pleasure and enlightenment of children! This group read has made me look afresh at the golden age of writing (at least in English) for children, from Alice in Wonderland (1865) to The Hobbit (1937 I think). So much treasure there, for child and adult readers alike! An extraordinary period of talented writers deploying myth and psychology to write stories with something deep to offer all ages.

Off to revisit John Mead Falkner, George MacDonald, Farley, Stephens, Kingsley, Kipling, Stevenson, etc. Even Alcott and Barrie, maybe, though they were never favorites of mine!


message 17: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I reread Alice in Wonderland not that long ago, and enjoyed Wind in the Willows much more, especially because of the wonderful descriptions of nature and the river. Alice has always left me cold. I can appreciate the wit, but the characters are not like Rat, Toad, Mole and Badger, who on the whole are a delight. Toad, with all his antics, provided a lot of funny moments.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments I agree with you, Rosemarie, Alice is all surface, and if you aren’t familiar with the political debates of its era (which I am not), you miss at least half of its meaning. I’ve always liked the mythic ones best, from The Princess and the Goblins to Puck o’ Pook’s Hill. And I love Kipling’s use of language—great for reading aloud—though some of his values are discordant today.


message 19: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 27, 2016 09:50AM) (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3744 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I reread Alice in Wonderland not that long ago, and enjoyed Wind in the Willows much more, especially because of the wonderful descriptions of nature and the river. Alice has always left me cold. I..."

Much of Alice is political satire or just nonsense for the sake of nonsense. An annotated edition would be useful there.


message 20: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I enjoyed The Princess and the Goblin and the otherGeorge MacDonald as well. The Water Babies was a bit preachy at times, but well worth reading.


message 21: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
Rochelle wrote: "Rosemarie wrote: "I reread Alice in Wonderland not that long ago, and enjoyed Wind in the Willows much more, especially because of the wonderful descriptions of nature and the river. Alice has alwa..."

Yes, definitely. There are times when annotations make a difference to the understanding of a book. I don't know if annotations make a book more enjoyable.
Any opinions on this topic? I am curious because I have no set opinion on this matter.


Catherine (catjackson) I felt like the ending was somehow forced, as if the author knew he needed to bring things to a conclusion but just didn't know what to do. I felt like he wanted to add some sort of action to the plot, but this action is not what i thought was needed.


message 23: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 27, 2016 10:20AM) (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3744 comments I reread the last chapter, and noted that not one shot was fired, no one died and there was no description of injuries. It fit the way little boys used to play "Soldiers" and my brother and I played "Cowboys and Indians."

I've been looking through the videos on Youtube. The only complete one is an adaptation, with changed dialog, and the animation is awful. The one I like best is just the illustrated book with narration. It was posted when Youtube was accepting only 10-minute videos, so you have to follow the sequence of 18 parts along the right side.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhK50...


message 24: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 27, 2016 10:25AM) (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3744 comments I think Grahame's son and little boys everywhere would have been delighted by the last chapter. Probably not little girls.


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Abigail wrote: "It seemed to me that the last chapters descended into slapstick—the whole comic-Odyssey trope—and what I missed from the earlier chapters was the spiritual aspect, if I can call it that."

That's an excellent way of looking at it. You can definitely call the earlier chapters spiritual, especially concerning the river and its relationship with the animals.


message 26: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Abigail wrote: "I’ve always liked the mythic ones best, from The Princess and the Goblins"

I read that book when I was too young. It scared the dickens out of me, nightmares and all. I probably should go back to it as an adult to calm those fears (or maybe to get them re-energized? :(


message 27: by Linda2 (last edited Jul 28, 2016 09:25AM) (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3744 comments Everyman wrote: "Abigail wrote: "I’ve always liked the mythic ones best, from The Princess and the Goblins"

I read that book when I was too young. It scared the dickens out of me, nightmares and all. I probably sh..."


I don't think it will frighten you any more.

My brother sometimes took me to sci-fi movies, and some of them gave me nightmares, but I never had nightmares from fairy tales.


message 28: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I was a little girl in Germany and the fairy tales there are pretty graphic. I did have have bad dreams about the wolf biting my hand, and then I would wake up.
Wind in the Willows has a much gentler mood. I am reading Kenneth Grahame's The Golden Age, which is about childhood. I have just finished a chapter where the boy was messing about in boats. In this book the descriptions of the countryside are lovely also. The grown -ups are called Olympians and don't know how to have fun, with a few rare exceptions.


message 29: by Linda2 (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3744 comments I was looking at used copies at betterworldbooks.com, and they led me back to these 2 reviews here at GR. Interesting viewpoints

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Karel | 86 comments I disagree about the ending of the book, I absolutely loved it, it made me laugh a lot. Until chapter VIII, I didnt like Toad, but I think I found his personality really amusing in this last 3 chapters. I enjoyed everything: how he understands nothing, and keeps messing everything, when he puts empty chairs to gave his speech to a captive audience, so he can be a rational Toad later. I will reread Toad´s earlier chapters now that I got his personality.
Since I finished this book I´ve been recomended it to every mom with 5-6 year old children. I really like it.


message 31: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I thought Toad's speech at the end was funny. Everyone was waiting for one of his bragging poems.


message 32: by Linda2 (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3744 comments Karel wrote: "I disagree about the ending of the book, I absolutely loved it, it made me laugh a lot. Until chapter VIII, I didnt like Toad, but I think I found his personality really amusing in this last 3 chap..."

Only to mothers? I'd recommend it to my friends. A lot there that's over the head of 5-year-olds. (see our previous discussion.)

He really did a BAD job of acting like an old lady, messed up one encounter after another. It was hilarious.


Karel | 86 comments Rochelle wrote: "Only to mothers? I'd recommend it to my friends. A lot there that's over the head of 5-year-olds...."

Sadly, I dont have a lot of adult friends that read, and finding books that are suitable for 5-6 year old children is not that easy: Gaiman is too scary, Lemony Snicket is horrid, and those little books with 3 phrases and lots of pictures are pretty but not that entertaining. This one has some violent scenes but it is innocent enough (as someone said, no one dies). And there is even subtle moral teaching, as when Badger made Toad paid to all the people that helped him, and even to the barge woman.


message 34: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
My daughter read The Wizard of Oz to my five and a half year old grandson and he liked it. It is quite long, though.


Karel | 86 comments Rosemarie wrote: "My daughter read The Wizard of Oz to my five and a half year old grandson and he liked it. It is quite long, though."

I read The Wizard of Oz as an adult and loved it, I love the lion =)


message 36: by Linda2 (new) - added it

Linda2 | 3744 comments Rosemarie wrote: "My daughter read The Wizard of Oz to my five and a half year old grandson and he liked it. It is quite long, though."

It's really written for older kids. You could run it over several nights, with a cliffhanger at the end of each.


message 37: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments How closely do people think his characters match the characteristics of the animals as you understand (previously understood?) them?


message 38: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
Mole is the quiet thoughtful one, Rat is the busy one--but also the dreamer, Badger is the organizer, leader and solitary at times. Toad is ?
I think he succeeded with Mole and Badger, Rat during his busy times and Toad not at all. I like Toads and in my mind they are shy and unassuming creatures.


message 39: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Rosemarie wrote: "Mole is the quiet thoughtful one, Rat is the busy one--but also the dreamer, Badger is the organizer, leader and solitary at times. Toad is ?
I think he succeeded with Mole and Badger, Rat during ..."


I agree. And Toads are, at least from the ones I used to catch when I was a lad and catching all sorts of things out in the woods and stream behind our house was the thing young boys did, as you say, shy and unassuming and reticent.

I wonder why he chose a toad for that role. I suppose that was part of the humor -- it wouldn't have been so funny if it had been a fox or hedgehog or something else.


Linda | 230 comments I absolutely loved all the bits with Toad as the washerwoman. I laughed when the barge woman started talking to Toad about doing her wash for her and Toad thought "he didn't like this subject at all". I had visions of Jim Henson's The Muppet Show when the barge woman flung Toad off the side of the barge. Toad. He continually amazed me over his puffiness of himself!

I also liked the last chapter, but I agree that it didn't quite have the charm of previous chapters. I didn't mind about all the swords and pistols. Like Rochelle mentioned in message 23, it felt like they were play fighting. At one point Badger kind of chuckled and said that the stick was all he needed. He reminded me of the father of the group, and he went ahead and let Ratty have his fun in gathering all the weapons and gear, even if most of them were not needed.


message 41: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2924 comments Mod
I thought the part when Ratty was gathering all the weapons was very funny. You tell how excited he was, like a little child who is having such a good time that they get a little hyper.


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The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910

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Books mentioned in this topic

The Water Babies (other topics)
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George MacDonald (other topics)