Annika and Tommy have one. Pippi doesn't. So where does that leave her in Pippi Longstocking? Not all that bad off, as it turns out. She's got a house, two animal housemates to share it with, and a couple of best friends next door. Plus she seems to have a whole lot of fun. So then is Astrid Lindgren suggesting that family doesn't matter? Not at all.
For one thing, Pippi counts Mr. Nilsson and the horse as kin. And for another, Pippi references her parents constantly. She fully believes that her mom is watching over her from above and that her dad will be back for her as soon as he can. So she does have a family—more or less—and her parents' influence endures, even when they're not around.
Because the child characters in Pippi Longstocking appear to be greatly influenced by the environments in which they are being raised, this book makes a great argument for nurture over nature.
Tommy and Annika are held back in many ways by their parents, while Pippi, who lives on her own, is free to develop to her full potential. In this way, Pippi Longstocking is an anti-family book.
Education, shmeducation. Who needs it anyway? Well maybe Tommy and Annika. They do, after all, attend school every day in Pippi Longstocking, and no one ever suggests that they shouldn't. Not even Pippi, who only needs a few hours to decide it's not for her, Christmas vacation or no.
Still, Pippi knows how to do a lot of things that most ten-year-olds don't. She cooks, cleans, sails, sews, rides horseback, cares for complicated pets, teaches herself to dance and draw, and out-thinks a fire chief in order to rescue children from a burning building. She knows the capital of Portugal because she's been there, but does her life experience count as education?
People can get pretty much all the education they need through life experience and self-study (especially with the Internet at their fingertips). Formal education is completely unnecessary.
By having Pippi dismiss the idea of going to school so quickly, Astrid Lindgren both undervalues the importance of public education and damages its reputation with her readers.
Sugar and spice and everything nice? Snips and snails and puppy dog tails? Whatever you think boys and girls are made of, you can forget it—Pippi Longstocking takes traditional gender roles and throws them out the window. Sure Annika is a conventional 1950s girl—polite, proper, helpful, kind, and well dressed. And Tommy, her brother, is a typical boy. He too is well dressed and polite (that's the kind of family these kids come from), but he's more of a risk taker than his sister.
And then there's Pippi. She lives on her own, she never cries (though both Tommy and Annika do), and she's stronger than the strongest man in the world. Crooks who think little girls are easy targets need to think again when it comes to Pippi, and anyone who believes girls need to conform to society's ideas of beauty to fit in can take a hike, too. Pippi doesn't play those games, but she still comes out on top.
If Pippi Longstocking had been published for the first time in the year 2010, Pippi wouldn't be considered a feminist icon at all; she'd just be a weird kid who lived with a monkey and a horse and happened to be super-strong.
Even though Pippi Longstocking was written over sixty years ago, it still challenges gender roles today.
It's hard for individuals to find their place in society. Societies have to have rules, and the rules don't always suit all the individuals, but it's even harder when the individuals are individual to the extreme. Like Pippi in Pippi Longstocking—she's not exactly a blend-into-the-crowd kind of gal, and she certainly has her own ideas about how to live. Being raised on the ocean seems to have made her particularly unfit to live amongst others on the land, but with her super-strength and her refusal to be boxed in according to her age, gender, or size, we wonder if being raised in a more traditional setting would have made fitting in any easier for her.
Pippi Longstocking is amusing, but the choices she makes—such as ignoring police officers and refusing to go to school—make her a bad role model for children,
By the end of the book Pippi has found her place in the society of the small town and been accepted by the other residents.
Pippi, like Peter Pan, embraces her youth—every single moment of it. Though some adults in Pippi Longstocking definitely have a children should be seen not heard approach to kids, the overall take on childhood is that it's a blast and kids should be left to enjoy it. Pippi is creative and fun and silly and spontaneous, she can make a day of hunting for tin cans or climbing trees. Without adults around to shape her development or impose a lot of rules, the people of the town at first worry that Pippi will be taken advantage of, or become a delinquent, or otherwise fail to thrive… but they're wrong on every count.
It's all well and good to say that kids should have time to climb trees and have picnics, but the childhood depicted in Pippi Longstocking—where kids roam their neighborhoods free of all adult supervision—is unrealistic in today's world.
Kids today are overscheduled and overregulated. Parents, educators, and kids would all do well to take a page out of Pippi's book and chillax when it comes to their schedules.
Obviously Pippi's super strong, but why do you think Astrid Lindgren made her that way? Sure it's funny to think of her lifting cows and horses and policemen, so comic relief is part of the reason, but we think there's a bigger one. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman when society needed a hero to battle bullies like Hitler and the Nazis. Pippi came along a decade or so later to take on a few bullies of her own: institutions that demand conformity; societies that over-regulate children; and anyone who's ever used the phrase throw like a girl as an insult instead of a compliment.
Pippi's physical strength is what makes Pippi the remarkable character she is; without it, she would be a completely different and far less compelling character.
Pippi's physical strength isn't really that essential to her character; without it, she'd still be just as dynamic, capable, and interesting.
It might shock you to think about isolation as a theme in Pippi Longstocking—after all, she's so funny and she always comes out on top. But when it comes right down to it, Pippi is alone in the world in a lot of ways. Her appearance sets her apart from others right away and even earns her a few jeers and taunts. Add to that the fact that she has no parents, she's freakishly strong, and many of society's key rules don't really suit her, and you've got one isolated nine-year-old.
Everyone feels isolated from time to time—it is part of the human condition.
Pippi would be happier if she could rein in her outrageous behavior and fit into society instead of always standing apart.
What does it mean to be a principled person? Can you still be a principled person if you:
These are all things Pippi does in Pippi Longstocking, and yet we get the feeling she actually has some pretty solid principles—honor, loyalty, kindness, compassion, and a strong work ethic to name a few—that she adheres to rather fiercely.
Pippi's principles are so inconsistent throughout the book that she really can't be said to have any at all.
Pippi may seem uncompromising and even a little bit self-absorbed, but when it comes to Tommy and Annika, she always puts her friends' needs first.