Alan Alexander Milne was born in1882 in London to a master of Henley House and a teacher. At three years of age, Milne amazed his father by reading a word which his two older brothers could not and it was not long after this incidence that he (Milne) realized that he was good at reading; his favorite book then being Alice in wonderland. By 1906, he had been part of a team that created successful comedies and novels.
He has written numerous novels and among his most successful novels is Winnie-the–pooh in 1925 (Ward, 6). Winnie-the-pooh was a dedication to his son whose name, Christopher Robin, features among the main characters in the novel. The story became so popular that it even made the headlines of the local dailies then.
Milne went on to write several other novels, diversifying from his original writing of children books. He even played a role in the Second World War as a home guard captain. A few years after retirement, he experienced a stroke which led to his death in 1956.
Main and supporting characters
The characters in the story are mainly animals, mortified pets and one human character. Winnie-the-Pooh is the main character in the story and is described as having a golden skin and a characteristic red t-shirt. He is presented as the silly one with silly actions and an everlasting craving for honey, which, more often than not lands him in trouble.
Christopher Robin is the only human character in the story. As mentioned earlier, this character is named after the author’s only son who also shares the same name (Ward, 6). In the story, he is seen to be everyone’s favorite friend and is portrayed as being the closest friend to Winnie-the-Pooh.
The Bouncy Tigger is an ever-excited character who is described as one who frequently jumps around, hence his name. He is portrayed as a fun loving tiger who is additionally egocentric. From the novel, Eeyore the Donkey is portrayed as not being amused by this ‘jumpy’ behavior.
Many who have read the story find Eeyore the Donkey to be interesting in many ways even though he is the gloomiest of the characters (Browne, 917). Eeyore, in most instances has some tinge of humor in his statements. His falling tail and falling house are a constant taunt to him and this adds some good humor to the story. According to the story, he is excited by red balloons and disturbed by jumpy characters like the jumpy Tigger.
Rabbit is among the characters named as a real animal. This is perhaps, is because he is named after the author’s pet rabbit. Like Owl, he is a minor character in the novel. Rabbit is portrayed as being an organized and responsible character, and this is represented by his behavior of taking notes of most occurrences around him.
Piglet in the story is revealed as Winnie-the-Pooh’s best accomplice who also happens to be also very close to Christopher Robin. He is depicted as the brave one in spite of his small size and is mostly seen in his characteristic stripped shirt.
Owl is the wisest of the animal characters and is often consulted whenever crises occur. He however finds difficulty in pronouncing some basic words like his own name, ‘OWL’, which he spells as ‘WOL’. He comes in later in the play probably to fill in the characters just like Rabbit.
Kanga & Roo are two fictitious characters with Kanga as the only female character in the entire story and is the mother of Roo (Milne, 99). She is seen regularly couching Pooh on how to improve his jumping skills (every Tuesday).
In the story line, Christopher Robin is in an adventure with his animals friends. Winnie-the-Pooh brings comes up with several ideas for adventures including, stealing honey from beehives, welcoming the bouncy animal, “Tiger”, consoling the gloomy Eeyore and enduring a tough flood to the search of the South Pole.
The honey-lover, Winnie-the-Pooh tries to get honey from a beehive on a tree in vain. He then tries the same with a floating balloon borrowed from Robin with which he uses to float to the top of the honey tree, unnoticed, posing as a dark rain cloud but is still, unfortunately driven away by the angry bees.
Giving up, he decides to get some of Rabbit’s honey by climbing into Rabbit’s house to steal the honey but he gets stuck in the hole. No attempt by the other characters to get him out yields any fruit and they result to waiting till he loses some weight so he can slide out.
The second chapter is set around the forest house. In this chapter, Pooh takes a nap but is interrupted by a strange sound which he sleepily tries to figure out what could be making the sound. It turns out that the sound is coming from be the bouncy Tigger.
The friends then embark on an adventure which leads pooh and piglet to the rather unusual Jaguar. Jaguar, according to Pooh has the unusual behavior of calling for help and jumping on anyone who looks above to help him. They therefore ignore him when they hear him shouting for help.
Theme of the story
Throughout the story, the theme of fantasy can be seen as being quite pronounced through the use of animal characters such rabbit, bear and tiger among others. This is developed from animal folktales and fables. Animal characters in the story assume active roles and are involved in human activities such as reading, writing, rescue team-making and expeditions. The story teller pushes the animal characters ahead of the human characters to enhance the jungle setting of the story.
Realistic fiction is the other theme that can be noted throughout the story. This is revealed through the use of fictitious characters to address real life issues like greed, family life and communism. For instance, the fictitious Winnie-the-Pooh is depicted as being very greedy when it comes to honey to an extent that he applies unorthodox methods just to get some honey. This greed is seen as always landing him in problems just like in real life where greedy people get into problems because of their greed.
Greed as aforementioned is carried forth by the main character’s craving for matters he cannot handle on their own. For fear of competition Winnie-the-pooh stages greedy and selfish deals alone but does not seem to succeed in any of his plans. Winnie therefore is left with no choice but to seek help from the very friends he had tried avoiding, especially when he gets into trouble. This is well illustrated in the scene where he gets stuck while stealing honey.
Another important theme in the story is the separation of good and evil. This is central in the story as the author attempts to illustrate why evil must be condemned and good praised at all times, and is shown when the greedy behavior of Winnie-the-Pooh is strongly met with condemnation from his friends (Gislason, 489). He (Winnie) is also said to be full of shame as he tries to shake off the guilt of his otherwise unbecoming character.
Humor in the story cannot be ignored given its role in keeping these friends together even in crises. Almost all characters have a tinge of humor. The gloomy Eeyore is illustrated as making humorous statements about his own falling tail, and additionally, Winnie’s ways of seeking honey are depicted humorously. Winnie’s description of being too fat to set break free after consuming honey is yet but another example of the many humorous scenes.
Browne, Pat. The guide to United States popular culture. Bowling Green, OH :Popular Press, 2001.
Gislason, Stephen. Existence and the Human Mind. Linden,VA: Environmental Research Inc, 2005.
Milne, Alexander. Winnie The Pooh. Toronto: McCleland & Stewart, 1988.
Ward, Stasia. Meet A.A. Milne. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2001.