Winnie-the-Pooh | Study Guide

A.A. Milne

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Winnie-the-Pooh | Chapter 6 : In Which Eeyore Has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents | Summary

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Summary

Eeyore is particularly morose on his birthday. Winnie-the-Pooh encounters him muttering to himself and asks what's wrong. "Sad, why should I be sad? It's my birthday. The happiest day of the year." Eeyore has nothing to signify a birthday: no cake, no presents, no candles, and no attention. Eeyore's sadness is too much for Pooh, who runs home to find Eeyore a present. At home he finds Piglet trying to reach the knocker and kindly knocks for him. When no one answers, Piglet points out that Pooh is knocking on his own door. When Pooh suggests Piglet also find Eeyore a present, Piglet goes home to find a leftover balloon from his own birthday. Pooh chooses a pot of honey for Eeyore.

While returning to Eeyore's corner of the Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh gets hungry. Delighted to be holding a pot of honey, he congratulates himself for his forethought but after eating the honey realizes he has eaten Eeyore's gift. Distressed, Pooh decides to re-brand the gift as a "Useful Pot" and asks Owl to inscribe it. Owl writes "HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY." Pooh is impressed with the long birthday wishes, meaning "A Very Happy Birthday with love from Pooh."

While Owl inscribes the pot, Piglet decides to give his present to Eeyore first, as if he thought of it himself. Running along, he steps into a rabbit hole and POP. The nervous Piglet thinks the world has exploded, but it is just Eeyore's balloon. Sadly Piglet brings Eeyore the popped balloon, and sadly Eeyore accepts it. He expects nothing more; popped balloons are just the type of gift he would get. Then Pooh comes rushing in with his empty, but Useful, pot of honey. Eeyore is overjoyed to see he can put his balloon into the jar and take it out again. Piglet and Pooh leave him putting the balloon in the pot and taking it out again. Christopher Robin reveals he was absent from the action of the day because he was planning a party for Eeyore.

Analysis

Winnie-the-Pooh does not understand sarcasm or irony of any type. He is a concrete thinker and, although used to being challenged intellectually, is completely unaware a person (or in this case a talking stuffed donkey) would say the opposite of what he means. (Although Pooh does often pretend to understand something when he doesn't, he never intends to mean the opposite of what he says.) When Eeyore invites Pooh to look around and see all of his presents, Pooh doesn't realize the invitation is a mournful attempt at a joke; rather he looks around and is stunned to see no presents. Gentle Pooh, once he understands the situation, is rocked to his core. This is the first time Winnie-the-Pooh's empathy is tested, and for a Bear that thinks mostly about himself, he reveals he is quite empathetic.

It is worth noting that Pooh displays these feelings because both Pooh and Piglet also tend to try to outdo each other. Both crave recognition. Piglet wants to give Eeyore his gift first, to appear as if he had thought of it on his own. Pooh will not allow Piglet to share in his gift giving. Although their motives and gestures are for the most part charitable, both want Eeyore to credit them with kindness.

Eeyore is not only bitter and morose in this story, he is also terribly sad. Similar to when he loses his tail in Chapter 4, Eeyore's overall mien in this story makes him nearly invisible. Pooh, in describing Eeyore to Piglet, says, "you know what Eeyore is." The use of what rather than who or even how makes Eeyore even more like an object.

The plot events leave readers to understand the motivations and results of giving gifts. Children have little or no understanding of the concept, so Pooh and Piglet give gifts that appeal to them and that they have at hand. In fact, Pooh likes his gift so much that he eats it on the way. His action reflects a familiar feeling among children bringing gifts to a birthday party; they like the present so much they would like to keep it for themselves. Eeyore's reaction to the two gifts is somewhat less in keeping with his character. Rather than complaining about them, he demonstrates enjoyment, probably touched by the gestures. In this reaction, Milne implies the importance of behaving graciously when receiving a gift.

At the end of the chapter the narrative moves outside the main story as Christopher Robin and the narrator briefly discuss the boy's whereabouts during Eeyore's birthday.

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