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Winnie-the-Pooh | Symbols



Honey is the single largest influence in Winnie-the-Pooh. It is the concrete motivator for most of the actions Winnie-the-Pooh takes. Its presence in every story serves either as a motivator or as a reward. It symbolizes home, sustenance, and sweetness. It is no coincidence a bear as sweet as Pooh derives the bulk of his nourishment from honey.

When Piglet asks Pooh his first thought in the morning, Pooh replies, "What's for breakfast?" Piglet responds, "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today." And Pooh, nodding thoughtfully, says, "It's the same thing." The honey and its representation of sustenance inform nearly all the actions and thoughts of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Signs and Language

Signs figure prominently in Winnie-the-Pooh. They symbolize Milne's love for written language, as well as his keen understanding of the learning process.

Owl's signs feature invented spelling. While a child being read aloud to would not grasp the significance of "Cnoke here," the reader can see that while Christopher Robin might be the responsible man of the forest, in truth, he is a little boy learning to read and write.

"Trespassers W" and "Mr. Sanders," the signs that adorn the homes of Piglet and Winnie-the-Pooh, respectively, signify the absurdity of real-world adult labels. "Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted" does not seem an appropriate name for a grandfather pig, but the fact is Piglet's grandfather could be called anything. The broken sign is proof the label itself is insignificant. It makes sense for a child to attribute a meaning to "Trespassers W" that makes sense to him; obviously it must be someone's name.

Winnie-the-Pooh, or Edward Bear, lives under the name "Sanders." Taking the term literally (Pooh lives under a sign that reads "Mr. Sanders") makes the idea of an alias, or a label, absurd.


Balloons also figure prominently in Winnie-the-Pooh. Party balloons are a symbol of childhood. They are toys that also carry the risk of popping, making them exciting and a little dangerous, as well as impermanent. Because balloons fly, they are symbolic of absolute freedom. Pooh uses a balloon to carry him up to the clouds. Because they deflate or pop, they are a melancholy reminder of childhood's end. The balloons in Winnie-the-Pooh firmly locate the stories in childhood and the characters' joy in them as childlike.

In Winnie-the-Pooh, it is the deflated balloon that brings the most joy, as Eeyore puts it in his useful pot and takes it out again. While a deflated balloon might reduce a child to tears, for Eeyore, unused to happiness, its deflation is of little consequence: "But Eeyore wasn't listening. He was taking the balloon out and putting it back again, as happy as could be."

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