The fundamental moral lesson in “Little Red Riding Hood” cautions against naivety, and teaches against trusting complete strangers with private information. Readers (the young, and particularly girls) are advised against engaging strangers in talks even if their refusal may come across as rude to the stranger; the consequences may be far worse, if the death of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother is anything to go by.
Although in the Chinese Red Riding Hood the girls Felice, Mayline, and Jeanne are able to overcome the manoeuvres of the wolf that wanted to eat them, such a case might be the exception rather than the rule.
Therefore, young children and teenagers are cautioned to ensure that they completely avoid entertaining strangers and to be highly suspicious of people whose intentions they do not trust, as the girls in the Chinese Red Riding Hood were, and it saved their lives.
In the Grandmother (France), the element of caution is extended to the elderly (adults) too. The grandmother in this story is quick to open her door to the knocker, who unfortunately happens to be a werewolf. She is subsequently consumed by the werewolf, the lesson here being that even adults should avoid a carefree and incautious attitude insofar as their safety is concerned.
The grandmother is killed but the girl survives because she insists on being cautious even when she is dealing with a person who, as far as she knew, was her grandmother.
In The Little Red Riding Hood, the girl begins to doubt the identity of her ‘grandmother’ a tad too late. She questions what big arms/legs/ears her ‘grandmother’ has, finally baring her doubts with the last line “Grandmother, what big teeth you have got!” (Perrault Para.11), in a revealing question, that betrays her fears and doubts.
The wolf responds “All the better to eat you up with” (Perrault Para.11), and consumes her. In The Little Red Cap, the girl also finally asks “Oh grandmother, what a horribly big mouth you have!” pegging her doubts on the identity of her grandmother, with the wolf similarly responding that the mouth is for eating her, and proceeds to do so.
These tales reflect on an incident in my life that occurred a while a go. A ‘salesman’ for some kitchen appliances would always come at our place and inquire about whether my parents were in and after confirming they were out, he would proceed to complement the beauty and outlook of our house and the front yard. I took to slowly appreciating his weekly visits, which he would make in the neighbourhood.
Sadly, I discovered later and regretfully that these ‘visits’ were nothing more than surveillance surveys he was conducting for his group of robbers, because in the summer of that year several houses in our neighbourhood were burgled, and this man was amongst the group of suspected burglars that were later arrested.
In the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack forgoes the gain of the immediate cash in lieu of potential and delayed riches. When Jack accepts the magical beans from the old man instead of taking the cow to the market and selling it for cash that he and his mother would use to buy food and other items of sustenance, he was taking a risk.
His mother reprimands him: “Have you been such a fool, such a dolt, such an idiot…” (Jacobs Para.16) and his mother even denies him supper, but his act pays off in the long term, because the beans open forth doors for them and they eventually become rich.
This incident resonates with measures that I have taken in my life; for instance, I have refused to participate in many activities like to concentrate in my studies. Eventually, like Jack in the story, I know my efforts will pay off in future, even though some friends reprimand me sometimes for being too ‘uptight’.
Jacobs, Joseph. Jack and the Beanstalk, 2010. Web. 29 June 2011.
Perrault, Charles. Little Red Riding Hood, 2011. Web. 29 June 2011.