Book Review: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

This is weird, I loved The Wind in the Willows as a child, and I still do on so many levels, but now, as I look at the piece from an adult’s perspective, there is this weird moralizing which I don’t entirely agree with. As frivolous and inconsiderate the Toad can be, why are his friends willing to use violence to control his urges and change his mind?

Then there is the fact that there is this divide between Wild Wood (unpredictable and following their nature) and the riverbank animals (civilized and the leisure class.) There is something fishy going on there. I understand it as a plot device. (Also, it mirrors the class divide back when this book was written. I get it.) It makes the woods more dangerous, makes the world more “mystical,” and adds tension in the end with the weasels and stoats, but still, this seems unnecessary divide between those who should work together for a common goal. Also, it gives a bad rep for some animals.

But then there is the fact that there is something very lovable about the Badger (who is your Darcian character with solemn moods,) the Mole (trusting, open, cowardly, but a champion in the end,) and the Water Rat (a teacher, a true friend, a helper, the one that makes the story move.) Even the Toad is someone to relate with. We all are a bit selfish at times and blind to our flaws. And the Toad is not evil. He “just” puts himself first and likes to boost himself to others. That is the moral of the story, he is wasting his fortune and life pursuing silly fads and not seeing who his real friends are. Who can argue with that? But to come back to the first point I made. The Badger, the Mole, and the Water Rat never stop to listen to the Toad and why he is so fond of fast cars. They judge him instantly and force him to their ways without regret. That I find very silly.

Now, as I write this review, I feel like I’m betraying the child in me who loves this story. The inner child is saying, that why nitpick about these things? Let it go and enjoy the whimsical story, the animals who are just like us, and picture this wonderful riverbank and be happy. But I have to say that stories and words matter. If a rumor can shape the world, so can children’s books. Children are like sponges, they take in everything. Okay, I was read this book as a child, and I turned out okayish. Hmm?

Thank you for reading, have a magical day!

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