There’s No Place Like Home: An Analysis of Two Characters’ Journeys in “The Wind in the Willows”
As discussed in this course, classic children’s literature often involves some kind of journey for a character, in which they temporarily leave home, only to discover a self-truth and a new appreciation for that which they often took for granted. Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows” is no exception. The two animals that most notably go through a transformation as a result of leaving home are Mole and Toad. While their reasoning and experiences along the way differ, they both prove changed characters, and for the better.
“The Wind in the Willows” begins with a busy Mole, caught in his spring-cleaning daze, and within the first paragraph he has decided to leave the work behind as “something up above was calling him imperiously” (Classics of Children’s Literature, pg. 637). Mole’s home is underground, and as soon as he breaks the surface, the nature around him is described as very positive with words like “sunlight”, “warm”, “caress”, and “happy” (pg. 637). He takes in his surroundings and is pleased to “be the only idle dog among all [the] busy citizens” (pg. 637). He quickly comes across the river, something that he’s never seen before, and makes friends with Rat, a loyal and happy member of the River Bank. The experience on a boat is grand, and Rat doesn’t have to say much to convince Mole that venturing out was the best idea: “Absorbed in the new life he [Mole] was entering upon, intoxicated with the sparkle, the ripple, the scents and the sounds and the sunlight, he trailed a paw in the water and dreamed long waking dreams” (pg. 639). Rat goes on to teach Mole all the necessary “animal etiquettes,” different things about the inhabitants of the Wild Wood, and how to do river tasks, like rowing. Even though he fails in first attempts to fit in, Moles spirits are easily lifted by the comfort of his friends.
Mole stays with Rat through the summer and...
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