|Is Piglet a Gay Stutterer? |
By Andrew Janes
Casual observation of Walt Disney films featuring the Winnie-the-Pooh characters suggests that the character Piglet is a PWS (piglet who stutters). Following a brief, but significant, discussion on the Passing Twice Yahoo group regarding Piglet’s sexual preferences, this paper examines the primary sources (Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926, henceforth WP; Milne, The House at Pooh Corner, 1928, henceforth HPC) for evidence of his dysfluency and homosexuality.
1. Pink and dirty
Clear evidence for Piglet’s gayness is frequent and varies from subtle—his love of flower-arranging (HPC:ch.5), for instance—to blatant. The illustrations alone provide sufficient evidence: Mr. Shepard has depicted our hero wearing a curious, tight, sleeveless garment, clearly made from artificial fiber, and color editions reveal him to be pink. The most obvious revelation of Piglet’s sexuality is the description of his excitement at the thought of Christopher Robin stripping off to reveal his blue braces (ibid:ch.4); the non-literal connotations of blue should not be forgotten here. Note also that this incident occurs during the retrieval of Roo and Tigger from a tall, upright tree, the symbolic significance of which should be obvious.
Fortunately, it is clear that Piglet is not lonely and closeted, but surrounded by others of his own persuasion: Roo’s wish to be ‘bounced’ by Tigger (HPC:ch.6) and Christopher Robin’s frequent, open declarations of love for Pooh are clear examples. (Any speculation about the friendship between energetic, house-proud Rabbit and fussy, academic Owl is, however, precisely that.) Indeed, the lack of heterosexual relationships—the sole female character, Kanga, being a single mother—makes a refreshing contrast to run-of-the-mill children’s literature. (As an aside, we observe that, in spite of Kanga’s best efforts towards a wholesome cleanliness, Piglet “likes it dirty” (WP:ch.7)).
The sole dark cloud on the landscape is the Pooh-Piglet-Christopher Robin love triangle. The close nature of Piglet’s friendship with Pooh is apparent throughout both volumes, and Piglet’s lust for Christopher Robin, and the latter’s counter-affection for the bear, have already been noted. Sadly, this tangle must end in disappointment for at least one party, and, here it is Piglet that suffers most. Within twelve pages of Piglet agreeing to move in with Pooh (HPC:ch.9), then the honey-loving cad elopes to An Enchanted Place with the young gentleman (ibid:ch.10). Although our knowledge of Piglet’s story ends with this distressing abandonment, there is hope that he will not be alone forever. We have not yet mentioned Eeyore, whose affection for Piglet is hinted at in his description of his friend as the “little fellow with the excited ears” (WP:ch.10) and comment that Piglet is his ‘favorite size’ (ibid:ch.6). Piglet’s gift of violets (remembering the symbolism of that color) to this cuddly donkey (HPC:ch.5) may lead to a fulfilling new romance and much frisking of tails (ibid:ch.4).
2. ‘Squeak, piggy, squeak’
In contrast to their lush homoeroticism, neither volume offers evidence for our hero’s dysfluency. Even when he exposed to such terrors as meeting a suspected Heffalump (WP:ch.5), being washed (ibid:ch.7), climbing out of the rubble of Owl's ruined house after a hurricane (HPC:ch.8), having his own house Surrounded Entirely by Water (WP:ch.9) and losing the house altogether following a complex misunderstanding (HPC:ch.9), he remains fluent, if slightly falsetto in tone. The harsh truth is that Piglet does not stutter: he is just a bit nervous. Presumably, the cinematic stutter was devised by Disney to enhance his charms to a discerning audience. (Conversely, some of Owl’s utterances, e.g. “Hipy Papy Bthuthdth Thuthda Bthuthdy” (WP:ch.6), suggest that dysfluencies are not absent from the Hundred-Acre wood, but this issue we leave to future research.)
Piglet’s fluency does not mean, however, that he and his friends have nothing to teach us. Firstly, while the inhabitants of the Hundred-Acre wood have diverse habits and attitudes to life (Tigger’s boundless energy contrasts sharply with both Eeyore’s pessimism and Pooh’s greedy sloth, for instance), they all live peaceably together, enjoying shared “expotitions” and other outings [sic]. Secondly, Piglet is gentle, thoughtful and brave, and does not let his small size affect his enjoyment of life. He shows us that our imperfections need not devastate our lives: Piglet may be puny-limbed, squeaky-voiced, fictitious, old enough by now to be a 23-year-old’s grandfather, and a piglet, but he’s still damnably cute!
Milne, AA (1926), Winnie-the-Pooh. London: Methuen & Co.
Milne, AA (1928), The House at Pooh Corner. London: Methuen & Co.