Dec 22, 2013
#TheList, No. 431: The Wind in the Willows
Kenneth Grahame's 1908 classic, The Wind in the Willows, tells the tale of four animal friends - Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad. Toad is the reckless animal of the bunch - always coveting the latest trend whether it be horse drawn carriages or motor cars (note: this was written towards the end of the second industrial revolution). His three friends worry that he will get himself into trouble with his impulsive behavior and, lo and behold, Toad is caught stealing a car and thrown into jail for 20 years. He escapes and after indulging himself once again with irrational behavior, teams up with his friends to reclaim his old home from the animals who have overtaken it.
If a middle or high school student asked me for a nostalgia-based book they could incorporate into a history/literature project, I would say "you got it dude" and hand them The Wind in the Willows.
Looking for a riveting read? I would tell them to look elsewhere.
In terms of its historical significance and reflection of people resistant to change, it's a great read. Toad stands for the new and exciting industrial age, while his friends represent the fondness for a simpler time. While I may find it boring to read through (and some agree and many disagree), I really do appreciate the symbolic aspects of the story. For me, the analysis of the characters and action is more entertaining than the actual story. Plus, who doesn't love anthropomorpized animals?