There is an almost archetypal interconnectedness to the variations of “Little Red Riding Hood.” As Tatar used Berne to point out in the introduction, it is difficult to pin one moral idea to the vary content of the stories. While the content and general path of the stories are similar, it is virtually impossible to extrapolate a single common value lesson.
I was particularly interested in the more risqué versions of the tale, ranging from the Nievre, to the Dahl, the two of which I will discuss herein.
Of the two versions I chose to examine, the Nievre, “The Story of Grandmother” is controversial in the sense that the wolf has the girl remove her clothes and throw them into the fire, stating that she will no longer be in need of them. I cannot help but wonder if the author was inadvertently trying to warn children away from the predatory nature of some strangers. The question is, why would the child so easily and without question remove her clothing, even for her grandmother? It seems to me, given the slip she gives the wolf at the end of the story by tying the rope to a tree, that she knew she wasn’t dealing with a relative and yet, she played along anyway.
The Dahl piece shows how the view of children has evolved from the baby Jesus view of the sixteenth century. It is an amusing tale, again showing the ingenuity of children, though some adults may find issue with the fact that the child uses a gun to ward off the wolf rather than leaving such dirty work to an adult (like the woodsman) or nature (see the Calvino version). As such, the child departs from that innocence of other portrayals. Though the Dahl piece was written in 1982, given the climate of today, how this version of the story could appeal to current children more than some of the others, especially given the propensity of children to see gun violence regularly on television, is clear.
Tatar, M., ed. (1999). The Classic Fairy Tales. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.