LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

So Long, Farewell

on April 18, 2013 1:43pm

Throughout both Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, Milne repeatedly draws attention to the comings and goings of the characters from the Hundred Acre Woods. This is especially true in regards to Christopher Robin.  Christopher Robin is admired by the other inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood.  He is an authoritative figure, seen as the voice of reason in any dilemma.  His character is portrayed as more intelligent than his animal companions.  When Pooh is trying to pass as a rain cloud in order to steal some honey away from the bees and asks Christopher Robin to go home and get his umbrella, then walk around underneath proclaiming that it looks like rain, Christopher Robin laughs to himself because he knows that this is a nonsensical idea.  However, out of fondness for Pooh, he does it anyway.  In addition to helping get his friends out of their individual misadventures, Christopher Robin also serves as a mediator between the animals.  When Owl’s house is destroyed by the storm and he is about to move into Piglet’s house, Piglet is at a loss. What is he going to do? It is Christopher Robin who steps in to smooth things out and prompts that Piglet should live with Pooh.

Christopher Robin’s identity as the authority, the problem solver, and the peacemaker set him up as an idealized child.  No child is ever really like that, at least, not all the time.  So Milne has created in Christopher Robin the ideal child who is always looking out for his friends.  It is in viewing him as the ideal child that the preoccupation with his leaving is significant.  The World of Pooh is a very nostalgic tale.  Milne was writing long after the other Golden Age authors and was in a way regressing back to that time when this sort of whimsical, carefree writing was popular.  Milne was trying to hold onto a time that had passed.  Christopher Robin’s character is like that time for the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood.  When he isn’t around, things go amiss.  Eeyore’s house is stolen by Piglet and Pooh (with good intentions of course),  Pooh and Piglet get stuck in the gravel pit while trying to catch a Heffalump, and Tigger gets stuck up a tree.  Without his guiding presence, the forest enters a state of chaos.

The point arrives, of course, when Christopher Robin’s presence starts to fade.  When Pooh first realizes that Christopher Robin is often unavailable in the morning time, he is a bit dismayed and, try as he might, he cannot provide Rabbit with a satisfactory explanation of where Christopher Robin might be between the hours of eleven and twelve.  In the last chapter, when it comes out that Christopher Robin will be going away, all of the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood know that, from now on, things are going to be different and Christopher Robin implores Pooh that even though he must go away, Pooh must not forget him.  He must move into the next phase of his life, and Pooh and his friends are losing their idyllic child friend.  But they are the embodiment of his childhood, and they will continue on, just as they are, even though he cannot.  So although it is troubling to be losing Christopher Robin, he will never really be gone, because our idealized memories stick with us.

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