Sometimes I let the winds carry my thoughts wherever they will. Today, it was the story of the Three Little Pigs (I know, I know: but trust me, the winds have carried my thoughts to much more bizarre places!). Something clicked in my mind, and I thought I’d just sort of go with it – what follows are the results.
“Little pig, little pig, let me in!”
“Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!”
“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in!”
Why does the wolf bother to make such a request, when he believes he can force his way in anyway? Is the wolf being polite, or is the wolf trying to instill terror in the pigs? Notice, the wolf does not threaten the pig directly; but seems instead to really have an issue with a structure he cannot freely enter. Perhaps it is the audacity of the pigs, to build such structures in the first place, that the wolf is reacting to? In this case, perhaps the wolf is symbolic of the wilderness, of Nature, or even of Fate itself – resentful of the pigs’ attempt to block its free access to them.
It also occurred to me, that in most versions of this story I’ve encountered, it all begins with the mother pig sending her three little pigs out into the world, to find their own fortune. From what material would the mother’s house have been built – or did she even live in a house? She obviously survived long enough to raise her piglets up, without the wolf eating her or threatening her piglets. It seems odd.
Following the progression of the story, we see that the wolf has no problems with blowing through straw or wooden materials. It’s brick – not stone, oddly enough – that gives him pause. Brick is not natural. Do we have here another possible connection to the wolf representing Nature, and the pigs (who are definitely human-like) representing humanity and our gradual departure from our wilder selves? Is this story a warning that such a thing incurs the wrath of the wilderness?
Now all that is fairly mild and tame. What I really find interesting is what happens when the wolf encounters the brick structure. True, he can’t blow down the brick walls. Did the house not have windows, then? Are we to believe that the door was not made of wood (which the wolf would have had no problem with)? Instead, in most versions, the wolf either resorts to trying to trick the home’s occupant to come outside; or the wolf climbs a brick house (which all wolves can do, of course), and boils his rump when he drops down the chimney into a cauldron of boiling water. In some versions, the wolf is then fully cooked, carved up, and eaten by the pigs.
For me, at least, a couple of things are clear. First, the story really is about us and our diversion from our wilder ways. The wolf is a symbol of the wilderness, and the pigs’ homes stand in defiance of the wolf. The pigs would eventually have to venture outside their homes anyway, and would be easy targets for a wolf … if it were really a case of a hungry wolf, the homes would have never needed mentioning. The wolf punishes the pigs who aren’t sophisticated enough – ironically, the message is that if you are going to diverge from your wilder ways, do so fully, with no half-measures. The second thing is that this story clearly was first created by someone who sided with the wolf. Yes, the wolf gets it in the end in every version; but we all know that this isn’t how it really works. The wolf – if we were talking about real wolves and pigs – would simply wait for the right opportunity, and not worry about construction issues. The wolf, as a symbol of Nature, will get us every time, regardless what we build around us. In no version of the story that I’ve ever encountered was the door to the brick house ever mentioned … the storyteller doesn’t want us to think about it, we aren’t supposed to remember that a brick home is no stronger than the wooden door that stands as a part of it. The storyteller lulls us into believing that, with a genuine dedication to our departure from the wilderness from which we have come, we can escape our Natural fate. The original storyteller, for all we know, may have been the wolf, himself; and I can believe the choice of domesticated pigs was a cynical one, indeed!