Little Red Riding Hood and Sex

Southwest TX Popular Culture Conference Thursday
Well, the eight a.m. Myth and Fairy Tale turned out very oddly. Only one of the panel presenters attended. That was especially odd since there were four papers scheduled for that hour. His paper was, thankfully, fascinating enough to get five pages of notes out of and everyone was very interested in what he had to say.

Hungry Like the Wolf: Sexual Discovery in “The Story of Grandmother”
Michael Howarth, Missouri Southern State University

little-red-riding-hoodSince I read “Little Red Riding Hood” in class when I am introducing literary analysis, though I usually use the Grimm version, I thought this was particularly interesting. In fact, I am hoping he will send me a copy of his paper so that I can reference it in my presentation for CCTE next week.

Here are some of my notes:

The wolf is a gothic symbol. (monster)
The wilderness is a metaphor for change…. The characters need to exit the wilderness in order to symbolize growth and change.

“undiscovered and dark side of human nature”- something to look at

Adolescents are confused over their roles. This is a good work to use to talk about those things.

Dealing with the wolf is dealing with both sexual urges and male predators. (Is the reason male predators are more common in lit because there are so many or because they make more interesting stories?)

Wolf has the role of an independent friend and of a seducer.

The girl and the wolf meet at the crossroads of Pins and Needles (a metaphor there, too). She says she is going down Needles, which is relevant to growing up in French culture, serving an apprenticeship in embroidery/sewing. (Question: Was this work originally in French?)

There is a talking cat.
“The slut is she who eats the body and drinks the blood of her grandmother.”

This is a clear eucharistic image. It even borrows the language.

Michael said the talking cat comes out of nowhere, that the girl seems not to hear it. Perhaps it reflects the cultural mores of the day.

I thought that it was an insertion of the narrator into the story. Interesting, narrator as talking cat.

In French slang, a girl losing her virginity is “meeting the wolf.”

“The Grandmother” was an oral version of the tale recorded by an ethnographer in 1914.

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