Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mr Toad's Character

What a difference 100 years can make!

Background:  Maggie and I weren't sure what new book to start after our last read-aloud concluded.  We'd run across a reference to The Wind in the Willows in her math book [yes, I did say math book, odd as that may sound to those of you who don't know Fred] and I realized that Maggie had not heard TWitW last time the family had read it.  [Amazing problem that homeschool mothers have!  Some children have the audacity to not be born yet when you did something that all the kids were supposed to experience for "school."] So anyway, we grabbed a copy from the library and started reading.  I enjoyed the book well enough when we read it 20 years ago, but I'm finding it positively delightful this time!!  Maggie appears to be finding it acceptable. 

In The Wind in the Willows, Mr Toad likes new things.  He likes nice clothes.  He flits from one new curiosity/passion to another.  When he fell in love with boating, he ditched his previous passions.  When he decided to go traveling in a gypsy carriage, he was done-done-done with boating.  When he discovered a motor car, he promptly dropped his interest in traveling in his gypsy carriage. 

My impression is that, when the book was written, this Affinity For The New was seen as a character flaw.  Most of the other animals were more content with their place in life and with the simple pleasures of their surroundings.  Not Mr Toad.  The other critters bore with Mr Toad's idiosyncrasies.  He was curious about new things and always wanted to find out more about whatever-was-novel-today.

Today, in our society, in our economy, it's all flip-flopped.  Contentment is not considered good.  It's often considered hokey.  It's often considered unpatriotic (as contentment won't boost consumerism).  And it's definitely considered "dull."  Desire-for-the-new is held up as a cherished characteristic. 

We even run political campaigns with the promise of CHANGE.

My, how values have ... uh ... changed.

1 comment:

  1. We read the Wind and the Willows a few months ago. I loved it, the boys tolerated it. But when we went to Disneyland last week, Ds 1's favorite ride was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride-I'm sure it was because he recognized the story. There were so many things at Disneyland that the boys knew because we had read the book, not because they saw the movie.
    That was my thought when I was reading this book too, my how values and times have changed.