My 2-year-old is on a Little Red Riding Hood kick. If I’m not reading the story to her, I’m telling her the story from memory.
But she gets the watered-down version of the story — no human meal, no woodcutter/hunter slaying the wolf. While I tell her the story, I am plagued by problems I have struggled with since my oldest son’s story-time ritual.
The problem I have with Little Red Riding Hood: the many plot holes. I know it is a children’s fairy tale, but come on. Every time I read the book or recite the tale, I fight the urge to alter the story. But I can’t anymore. I can’t keep it in. I must release my aggravation.
But first, I must address suspending disbelief. As a fan of fairy tales, sci-fi and comic books, I can reject life’s norms for a moment. I am OK with the talking Big Bad Wolf. I understand the story takes place in a magical world, but it should not be devoid of common sense.
OK, here we go.
The meeting in the woods
The story begins with Little Red Riding Hood needing to visit her sick grandmother. While Red is walking through the woods, she encounters the Big Bad Wolf and my first problem.
The wolf was stalking Red and comes out from behind a bush to speak with her. Why didn’t he eat her then? Come on! He could have eaten her with no one knowing. Instead, he had a chat. Then, during the chat, Red gives up her whole day to a wolf. To a wolf! I don’t know a lot about wolves, but if I had lived in a fairy-tale world where wolves are always the bad guy, I would know better than to spill my heart out to a wolf.
And after she gives up the information about visiting her grandmother, the wolf tells her to pick flowers. She listens to him and turns her back to pluck some daisies. I’ve read enough National Geographic to know it is a bad idea to turn your back on a wolf.
The grandmother encounter
There are two popular versions of what occurs within the house. One story has the wolf eating the grandmother. Another adaptation has the grandmother getting locked in the closet. Let’s look at the second one.
If you are telling kids the grandmother is locked in the closet, what you are telling them is grandmas are more concerned about their own welfare than their grandchildren’s. Find me a grandmother who would not do everything she could to make sure her granddaughter was not in the presence of a man-eating wolf. All the grandmas I know would have fought the wolf to the death or at least pounded away on the door and shouted.
The wolf in drag
I know what a wolf looks like. I know what my grandmothers look like. There is a big difference. Red should have walked in and looked for a millisecond and thought, “Nope, that’s a wolf.” And got right out of the house. End of the story. But no — Red has a dialogue with the wolf.
The eating of Little Red Riding Hood
Again, there are two stories. In one story, Red is saved before becoming a meal. The other is the wolf swallows Red along with her grandmother whole. As I mentioned before, my knowledge of wolves is limited, but I know wolves like to chew things. Also, the wolf would have choked on swallowing them whole. But, for whatever reason, the wolf gobbles them down like a python and takes a nap.
The cutting of the wolf
While the wolf is taking a siesta, a local woodcutter walks by the house. I think the woodcutter is a little sketchy.
We have no more information about him other than he is a woodcutter. Is he a friend? Is he a family member? We don’t know. If he isn’t a friend or a family member, why is he walking into a house he doesn’t own? Does he have Goldilocks’ disease?
But I digress. He walks into the house, sees the sleeping wolf, takes his ax and cuts the Big Bad Wolf open. And what does he find inside? Red and Grandma together. And they are fine! They were inside a belly and didn’t try to get out. They had no issues with stomach juices or lack of air. In fact, they are so fine they have a little feast with the woodcutter after the rescue.
I’ll continue telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood with my kids, but it’s a real struggle. Maybe an update is in store.
One more thing. Goldilocks, I mentioned you and I’m coming for your story next. Why would you walk into a house you don’t know? And who do you think you are eating the baby’s porridge? Stay tuned.
A version of this first ran on One Good Dad.