Literature / The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids
"The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids" is a well-known fairy tale
written down by the Brothers Grimm
. The story has a few parallels with "Little Red Riding Hood
" and "The Three Little Pigs
". Indeed, given the differences between Charles Perrault
's Little Red Riding Hood
and The Brothers Grimm
's, folklorists suspect it was an influence.
A mother goat leaves her seven little kids home alone before she goes out to get some food. She warns them not to open the door for anyone, especially not The Big Bad Wolf
. Soon enough, after she leaves, the wolf tries to get in. He pretends to be their mother, but is betrayed by his gruff voice. The wolf leaves and returns a little later, this time using a sweet, light voice to impersonate their mother. At first the seven little kids think it really is their mother, but then they ask her to stick her paw in front of the window (in some accounts they see it under a crack in the door) and notice his big, black feet. They refuse to open the door and the wolf leaves again, this time going to the bakery (in some versions, the miller) to whiten his paw in flour. He returns and fools the little kids because they see his white paw and think it's their mother. The wolf jumps into the house and gobbles up six of the seven kids- the youngest one is able to hide inside a large standing clock before he leaves. After his big meal, the wolf finds he is very, very
tired, and so the first thing he decides to do is lie down against a tree and enjoy a good long nap.
When the mother goat returns, she discovers her house is a mess and finds her youngest kid inside the clock. He tells her what happened and they decide to go look for the wolf. They soon find him, still fast asleep, and the mother goat tells her youngest child to get a pair of scissors, a needle and some thread, with which they cut open the wolf's belly. The six goat children jump out, alive and well. Then the goats fill up the wolf's belly with rocks and the mother sews it back up again. The goats hide and the wolf finally wakes up, feeling thirsty. He goes to the well (in some versions, the river), but falls in and drowns under the weight of the rocks. And the goat family lived happily ever after.
This fairy tale provides examples of:
- An Aesop: Don't let strangers in!
- Animal Talk: The wolf can talk to the goats and pretend that he is their mother.
- Artistic License – Biology: Six goats swallowed alive? The mother who is able to perform surgery without anesthetics (though to be fair the wolf already was taking a nap at the time, some versions try to justify this by saying that the wolf was really, really tired)? Huge rocks put back into the belly? The wolf still being able to move after swallowing huge stones?
- The Big Bad Wolf: The antagonist of the story.
- Bowdlerise: Some versions have the wolf tie the kids up in a sack rather than eating them right there, and he falls asleep because he gets tired from carrying the heavy bag.
- Dark Is Evil: The wolf has black fur.
- Disappeared Dad: The father is never mentioned in the story. It seems mother goat is either a widow or a Truly Single Parent.
- Heavy Sleeper: After eating the kids, the wolf decides to take a nap outside- and he somehow sleeps through his own stomach being cut open and sewed back up. Sure he ate six whole kids so him quickly getting tired and quickly finding a spot to nap is understandable, but come on!
- Getting Eaten Is Harmless: six of the kids are eaten by The Big Bad Wolf, but when the seventh kid and their mother cuts the wolf's belly open, the kids emerge unharmed.
- Hide Your Children: Only one manages to hide.
- Just Eat Him
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: In several versions of the fable, whenever the wolf goes off to get the flour to whiten his paw (and in some versions, chalk or another substance with which to sweeten his voice), he'll barge into a store/bakery or a mill, which are usually owned and run by humans. The only comment that's passed by the humans is that the wolf is barging into their work and strong-arming them into giving him what he wants, never once raising an eyebrow over the fact that it's a wolf doing so.
- Man in White: Or the wolf, for that matter - using white flour on his paws to disguise himself as a goat.
- No Name Given: Nobody's name is mentioned.
- Once Upon a Time
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The wolf simply puts on a falsetto voice and whitens his paws in flour.
- To be fair, the kids weren't able to see him in full until it was too late.
- Rule of Three: Only the third time he tries, the wolf manages to get in.
- Rule of Seven: The number of the goat siblings.
- Scare 'em Straight: Don't let strangers in the house, or they might kill you and your siblings!
- Swallowed Whole: The wolf, apparently, was much too hungry to waste time biting.
- Unexplained Recovery: The kids somehow survive being Swallowed Whole by a wolf.
- Youngest Child Wins: Only the youngest kid can hide from the wolf and later tell the mother what happened.