The Wind in the Willows: The Many-Pocketed Animal

He gave the name of the station that he knew to be nearest to the village of which Toad Hall was the principal feature, and mechanically put his fingers, in search of the necessary money, where his waistcoat pocket should have been. But here the cotton gown, which had nobly stood by him so far, and which he had basely forgotten, intervened, and frustrated his efforts. In a sort of nightmare he struggled with the strange uncanny thing that seemed to hold his hands, turn all muscular strivings to water, and laugh at him all the time; while other travellers, forming up in a line behind, waited with impatience, making suggestions of more or less value and comments of more or less stringency and point. At last—somehow—he never rightly understood how—he burst the barriers, attained the goal, arrived at where all waistcoat pockets are eternally situated, and found—not only no money, but no pocket to hold it, and no waistcoat to hold the pocket!

To his horror he recollected that he had left both coat and waistcoat behind him in his cell, and with them his pocket-book, money, keys, watch, matches, pencil-case—all that makes life worth living, all that distinguishes the many-pocketed animal, the lord of creation, from the inferior one-pocketed or no-pocketed productions that hop or trip about permissively, unequipped for the real contest.

—Kenneth Graham, The Wind in the Willows

As a person who rarely ventures forth without enough supplies and equipment to survive an earthquake, zombie invasion, or two-hour wait for the doctor, I completely sympathize with Mr. Toad. I suspect that if The Wind in the Willows were written today Toad would never leave Toad Hall without his Burberry murse.

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10 comments on “The Wind in the Willows: The Many-Pocketed Animal

  1. Ruth says:

    Toad would have all the latest and greatest gadgets BEFORE they hit the shelves of Best Buy.

  2. kcecelia says:

    My favorite children’s book, which I read for comfort, beauty of language, and glorious illustrations! My level of Wind In the Willows expertise allows me to state unequivocally that Toad was so reliably, astonishingly, consistently irresponsible that he would have no waistcoat pocket, murse, purse, or platinum card to save him: the loyalty of his friends, then and now, is all that saved, and would in any moment in time, save Toad.

    • Sylvia says:

      I only just read it for the first time, and bemoan the fact that some intelligent adult did not get me to read it when I was little. What pure delight! Though I was a little annoyed with Toad’s behaviour. What a rascal! He would indeed have been in deep trouble without his friends and the kindness of strangers.

      • kcecelia says:

        Isn’t it delightful? I have the Grahame/Hague version. The Hague illustrations are my favorite. The respectful, transporting beauty of Grahame’s writing, coupled with the extraordinary world he creates has drawn me in since I was a little girl. The cunning attractiveness of each animal’s home touches me. But, the real heart of it all is the believability of each character, and the decent dignity of Mole, Water Rat, and Badger. I have Annie Gauger’s The Annotated Wind In The Willows, and someday will read Peter Green’s bio of Grahame, but I’m a bit leery of breaking the spell of Grahame’s fictional world.

      • Sylvia says:

        Thank you, I would like to get an illustrated edition. I listened to an audio version–it was my bed time story for an enchanted while. 🙂 So sad that he did not write more stories with these characters!

  3. Stefanie says:

    Poor Mr. Toad, he definitely needs one of those fancy man-purses as well as an iPhone 😉 I’ve only ever read pieces of Wind in the Willows, not sure why never the whole thing. I can say thought that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was o ne of my favorite Disneyland rides when I was a kid.

    • Sylvia says:

      Oh you MUST read it! It is completely charming. It will change your whole view on rodents. 😉 I think I missed out on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I was more of a Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean girl myself.

      • Stefanie says:

        I was there on Space Mountain and Pirates too but in the “kids” rides, Mr Toad rocked! Just downloaded Wind in the Willows for my Kindle. Maybe I will read it when I am done with Austen’s Persuasion 🙂

      • Sylvia says:

        Sounds like a plan! I should re-read Persuasion this year, it’s been too long. Why oh why couldn’t she have lived longer???

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