Winnie-the-Pooh | Study Guide

A.A. Milne

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Winnie-the-Pooh | Chapter 1 : In Which We Are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, and the Stories Begin | Summary

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Summary

Edward Bear bumps down the stairs, certain there must be another way down, if only he could think of it. He is introduced as Winnie-the-Pooh. Although Winnie is often thought of as a girl's name, Christopher Robin explains that the makes it the perfect name for a boy bear. Sometimes Winnie-the-Pooh likes a game, but on the bear's behalf, Christopher Robin asks for a story. Best would be a story about Pooh, and the stories begin.

While walking, Winnie-the-Pooh hears the sound of buzzing coming from an oak tree. He concludes there must be bees nearby, and therefore honey, for "the only reason for being a bee ... is making honey." He tries climbing the tree, but it is too tall, and he tumbles into the gorse bush below. Determined to get the honey, Pooh devises a plan. He finds Christopher Robin and kindly requests a balloon. His plan is to float gracefully toward the tree, tricking the bees into believing he is small black rain cloud. Once tricked, the bees will allow him near their honey, which he will take for himself. The plan is less than successful; Pooh floats up toward the tree but cannot reach the honey; the bees buzz angrily, and he believes them suspicious. Meanwhile, at his request, Christopher Robin marches under the Pooh cloud with an umbrella, looking as if preparing for rain. Pooh sings a rain cloud song, cementing his disguise. "How sweet to be a Cloud/Floating in the Blue!" Alas, the bees are suspicious, and Pooh decides they are the wrong kind of bees after all. Discovering the bees might in fact be hostile, Pooh realizes he has no plan to get down. Christopher Robin shoots the balloon down, and Pooh comes back down to earth, again getting stuck by the gorse.

Analysis

This is Winnie-the-Pooh's debut as a character in the narrative, being dragged down the steps—bump, bump, bump—head first by Christopher Robin. Readers soon discover Pooh's basic understanding of the world around him: bees make honey, honey is made solely for his enjoyment, and Christopher Robin can be counted on to save him from any predicament. These are pretty much the cornerstones of all the Pooh narratives. Honey is a motivator, and Christopher Robin is a kind and gracious partner in adventure and savior in misadventure.

In this story Pooh writes and sings three songs, including the line "Isn't it funny, how a Bear likes honey." Art is created in an instant in the forest; Pooh, despite being a bear of very little brain, is a creator and takes deep and abiding pleasure in the rhythms of language. Additionally, a child's logic is examined as Christopher Robin explains the irrational rationale for Winnie being a name suitable for a boy.

Milne uses the symbol of balloons in this story to show their importance as children use them imaginatively at play, taking pleasure in the array of colors and versatility. A mere party souvenir, the blue balloon here becomes a rain cloud that may distract the bees.

Milne uses a capitalization technique in Winnie-the-Pooh that is both childlike and entertaining for adult readers. He capitalizes the first letter of any word he wants to emphasize: "so that is why he sang a Complaining song." Although the book may be read aloud to small children, Milne's capitalization indicates a sly and subversive wit. Only the reader will see and understand how he bends language to his whims.

Additionally Milne establishes the role of the narrator who tells the Pooh story in third person but interrupts himself and uses first person to address Christopher Robin as his audience rather than as a character in the story. Ending the exterior frame, Milne begins his story within a story.

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