Winnie the Pooh

It has been my discovery that many times, excellent writing will show an author's natural understanding of people and the way they act, who will hit upon the behaviors of the redemptive gifts by perception and insight.  For instance, let's look at the characters in Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne.  This beloved classic appeals to us because the characters are so  lovability despite their frailties.   We love the way they interact and react to situations. 

 

Who would be the prophet in the well loved books by A. A. Milne?

 

Did you guess Eeyore?  

 

He is rather gloomy, but often profound and insightful.  He seems to be the deepest thinker, of a melancholy nature, on the human condition.  ( I know, he's not human, but he is talking donkey.)  Nor is he full of faith, so we usually only see his dark side, but much of his personality is consistent with a redemptive prophet.  

 

Listen to Eeyore speak:

 

The old grey donkey, Eeyore, stood by himself in a thistly corner of the forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and he thought about things.

 

Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?"  and sometimes he thought "inasmuch as which" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.   

He is the quickest to assess and situation, and sadly, usually pronounce judgment on it, or to see himself as victim.  Now there is nothing valuable about a prophet who is all gloom and doom and no hope and faith, but it is the dark side of a prophet.   And despite Eeyore's gloominess, we like him anyway.  He voices despair, but there is often truth in what he says.  Or irony.  Or insight.  We cannot dismiss his voice, even when he speaks out of deep rejection, because we recognize that he might just be profound, despite it.

 

Servant:

Next, Piglet is a servant.  Piglet is always at Pooh's side.  He is perfectly safe for the Bear, and "although he has a very small heart, it could hold rather a large amount of gratitude."  I have always noticed that servants who walk in maturity have a lot of gratitude.  Their humility and their lack of expectation for how things "should be" make them capable of a lot of gratitude.  It is one of their most admirable qualitities.  

Piglet never gets annoyed with anyone, and he is able to see the best and believe the best about all the animals in the Hundred Acre Woods.  He is devoted and loyal to Pooh, and a reliable and patient friend.  He anchors Pooh and he never criticizes him.  He is completely trustworthy, and has no personal agenda.  All servant characteristics at their finest....

 

Teacher

 

The teacher is obviously OWL.  He is the character with the most knowledge: the "go to" character for information.  It is amusing to the reader that Owl doesn't always have the most accurate answers, and yet all of the other characters assume he does.  And because he knows more than they do, he is revered as the "all wise one."  His delivery is very pedantic and designed to impress the listener with his erudtion.  He loves details and always starts at the beginning of time to explain anything.  

These are quotes from Owl ( the Disney version.)

 

"This is just a mild spring zepher compared to the big, wind of '67.  Or was it '76?  Oh, well no matter, I remember the big blow well."

Typical of the teacher, Owl needs facts and dates to substantiate his words.  

 

"It was the year my Aunt Clara went to visit her cousin.  Now, her cousin was not only gifted on the glockenspiel, but being a screech owl also sang soprano in the London Opera."

 

This quote shows Owl first giving us the beginning, setting the stage with facts.  Like Luke in the telling of the events of Jesus' birth, as being in the "year of Ceasar Augustus," Owl begins in the "year that Aunt Clara went to visit her cousin."  Then he deviates from the story line to brag a bit about the talents of the cousin, his accomplishments, which were entirely note worthy.  He also manages to satirize the opera with his comments about his aunt.  That is the brilliance of a teacher's humor.

 

 

So who is the exhorter?

 

Tigger, of course.  Bouncy, bouncy, always enthusiastic, always looking for a party Tigger.  Like Eyeore, he is one dimensional.  He is the happy side of an exhorter, and he hardly labors for shifting paradigms or changing the Hundred Acre Woods, but we have to admit he is a force to be reckoned with.  When he comes into the forest, it is in an uproar.  Rabbit is trying to get order back, and the others are happily along for the ride.

 

 

Rabbit:  Giver 

 

First of all, by standards of The Hundred Acre Woods, Rabbit is rich.  He has a house and plenty of food.  He doesn't run out of honey, like Pooh, but is well equipped to stand a famine, or a Pooh Bear visit.

Rabbit is the most practical, the most helpful, the most dependable, the most down to earth, and the one who most wishes to control the behavior of the ohers who torment him with their failures and excesses.     

  

He is the most dependable one who is often called upon on  to make things happen or help the others out of scrapes.  

When Turtle complained he was at the end of his rope, Rabbit said, without mercy,  "Well, I am certain we can find you more rope."  Givers are not known particularly for their mercy, but for their practical and realistic views.

 

He makes rules for the forest, really to buy himself peace and quiet so that he can be about his perpetual business, and when questioned about the rules, he answers "Trust me."  He usually tries to outwit or sometimes bully the others into a concensus if he thinks it is for the greater good.  

He has perservance:    "You are not giving up are you?" he asks in a panic if the plan is not carried out to the end.

He is occassionally short on compassion:  "You two are going to get exactly what you deserve."

He is practical and logical."  Where is the train then?  It's not like it could have gone off by itself."

He knows many things and is never really surprised by new knowledge.  He acts as though he was expecting it:    "Everyone knows what a heffalump is!"      That is classic giver, to act as though they are never surprised.

He is exasperated when the others don't see what is obvious to him:      "Apples and pumpkins and many other things are harvested in the fall because that is when they ripen."  Sometimes his nuggets are entirely obvious to everyone, but he deems them new revelation  because he said it.

He looks ahead, usually with a bit of pessimism:    "Don't you see the awful things that could happen."

He brings order through control:    "I am issuing a one day pass for super sleuths to pass."

He is direct and aggressive:  "Tigger, why do you keep following me around?"

He is a bit impatient:  "For heaven sakes, Piglet, tie them together.  Don't you know how to tie a knot?"

He often second guesses himself:  "Why did I invite that bear to lunch."  It often doesn't pay to be nice in Rabbit's world where everyone is poised to take advantage.

He is first and foremost:  practical and able to do the hard thing to restore order.  "I have a good idea.  We will take Tigger on a long explore, somewhere where he's never been before, and we will lose him there."

He is never afraid to question others, as when he said about Owl's spelling:  "I knew Skull had one more Y."

He holds others accountable:  "Oh, you mark my words.  Tomorrow he will be a humble Tigger, a small and sad Tigger, a "oh, Rabbit, am I glad to see you Tigger, and it will take the bounce right out of him."

 

There is not another character in the stories like him.  He is confident, capable, and able to come up with a plan to fix most any situation.  He is practical and friendly, up to a point.  He does not like feeling taken for granted or out of control.  He hates being taken advantage of and he has a tendency toward expecting the worst.  He is busy, busy, busy.  

 

 

 

 

The sixth gift is the Ruler.  It is Christopher Robin who rules over the hundred acres woods.  He is summoned when there is a dilemma and he comes to solve it.  All of the kingdom owes its allegiance to him, and they are willing for him to be the one in charge.

 

 

 

 

And last, the gift of mercy.  I think it belongs to none other than Pooh Bear, who navigates with his heart and his senses.  Pooh bear is simple in his tastes.  He likes honey and to hum a little tune.  Now mercies aren't so forgetful or "of very little brain," but the point is that we love him because he doesn't strive to be something else.  He is transparent and vulnerable, a very precious mercy, who loves everyone.  He doesn't seem to take offense, because maybe he doesn't see it, but his life of humming and "tiddley de and tiddley dom" makes us all rest and sigh and wish we could be Pooh with his deep satisfaction about life and his philosophical acceptance of his own shortcomings and his high regard for his friends.  He aligns the hundred acre woods with his presence.  He is Christopher Robin's favorite.  He is the one whom Christopher communicates the deepest things with, like when he is about to go off to school.  We ache with Pooh, because we know how different his world will become with Christopher goes away.  Despite his being a simple bear, he is one of the best loved characters in all of literature because he shares his generous heart with all of us.