rethinking the meaning of predators through story
A century later, and the world has changed. Much of the world's forests have disappeared, and many predators threatened with extinction.
Traditionally animals were thought of as either good or bad. Bad animals were ones that competed with us for food. Good animals were either domesticated, or caused us no trouble.
Today it is understood that every animal has its niche in the ecosystem. In Yellowstone Park, for example, when the wolves were gone, the elk population soared to such an extent, that they destroyed ancient forests. Now wolves have been re-introduced, and these predators have brought balance, life and biodiversity back to Yellowstone.
In a traditional fairy tale there is a hero and a villain. If the animal is not the villain, maybe the human is the villain? In the case of Little Red Riding Hood, maybe it is the woodcutter?
Barbara G. Walker* has written her own versions of fairy tales - challenging the traditional patriarchal society in which they were based. In her short story Little White Riding Hood, the hunter / woodchopper represents 'man's destructive exploitation of the wilderness'. The wolf, on the other hand, represents 'the spirit of the wilderness itself'.
|Gray Wolf (Wikipedia)|
When Little White Riding Hood is bringing food to her grandmother, she is accosted by two hunters carrying the body of a female wolf they have just killed. They bully and threaten Little White Riding Hood, but she runs away to her grandmother's house.
Grandmother and grand-daughter find the orphaned wolf cubs and rescue them. Then they break the traps of the hunters. When the hunters come to grandmother's house to get their revenge, grandmother puts on a wolf suit, and frightens them away.
These stories are very entertaining, and worth a read. Fairy stories reflect and affect our beliefs and values. Marina Warner says fairytales are stories that try to find the truth.
The truth is that the world is trying to find a way for humans and predators to co-exist. But that's for another post...
*Feminist Fairy Tales, by Barbara G. Walker. Available as e-book by Harper Collins.
It's a bit of a stretch to think of this as a review of a gardening book. But I think I'll link it to Holley's monthly Garden Book Reviews meme anyway.