Winnie-the-Pooh | Study Guide

A.A. Milne

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Winnie-the-Pooh | Chapter 5 : In Which Piglet Meets a Heffalump | Summary

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Summary

Christopher Robin casually mentions he has spotted a Heffalump. Not to be outdone, Piglet and Winnie-the-Pooh say they saw one too, wondering what a Heffalump is. After saying goodbye to Christopher Robin, Pooh tells Piglet he has decided to catch a Heffalump and invites Piglet to help. Pooh devises a clever trap; they will dig a big pit, and the Heffalump will fall into it. When Piglet asks why the Heffalump would fall into an obviously large hole, Pooh explains the Heffalump will be looking at the sky wondering if it is going to rain. If it is already raining, he continues, the Heffalump will be looking up trying to figure out when the rain will end. As they discuss the plan, the friends realize catching a Heffalump will be harder than they suspected, and they decide to lure the Heffalump into the trap. Pooh goes home to get some honey to use as bait, and Piglet digs the hole.

As it is time for a little something, Pooh eats most of the honey, bringing Piglet the nearly empty jar, which he places into the trap. Then each returns home. Neither Pooh nor Piglet can sleep; Piglet is haunted by thoughts of the fearsome Heffalump and Pooh by thoughts of the honey remaining in the jar. The call of honey is too much for Winnie-the-Pooh, who gets up and climbs into the Heffalump trap to eat the honey. Nervous Piglet is also lured to the trap by visions of the Heffalump; if it is not in the trap, he'll be able to sleep; if it is, he'll run away. At the pit Piglet sees a monster with a terrifying jarlike head making banging and bumping noises and finally "a loud roaring noise of Sadness and Despair." Terrified he runs to Christopher Robin. When they return, they find Pooh in the pit trying to knock the jar of honey off his head.

Analysis

Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet talking together actually speak of nothing. They repeat the empty phrases "If you see what I mean ..." "It's just what I think ..." Because they are great friends and neither is very bright, they can speak of nothing and believe it has great meaning. Their friendship transcends not only species but also language. In addition, Milne pokes fun at humans who admit to having done or seen things they haven't. In trying to keep up with Christopher Robin, both admit untruthfully to having seen a Heffalump but of course have no idea what one looks like, nor the suspicion no such creature exists. In fact, the word and image may likely be inspired by mispronunciation of the word elephant.

In keeping with his character, Piglet is anxious and fearful as he dreams about the Heffalump. Milne keeps the story moving by having the characters unable to sleep, each one focused on what motivates him: Pooh on eating, Piglet on fear. Pooh's desperation over the last of his honey lying in the trap causes him to leave his comfortable bed and eat the last drops at the bottom of the jar. Piglet's anxiety causes him to see a monster and relate his horror to Christopher Robin, who will take care of everything.

It is because of their friendship that Pooh and Piglet are beloved. However, a hint of competition surfaces in their relationship. Piglet measures himself, literally and figuratively, against other animals. He is somewhat envious because he did not think of catching a Heffalump first, although he feels gratified when Pooh asks him for help.

Milne continues to play with words; here he uses fonts as well. As Piglet gets more frantic, the sentences move faster and faster until Milne uses all capital letters, similar to the contemporary use of all capital letters on the Internet; Piglet is clearly shouting, even if it is merely in his head. Additionally, Piglet's confused alliteration as he describes his vision of the Heffalump underscores the author's linguistic playfulness.

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