A Very Stylistic Symbol
Yeah, yeah. These aren't symbols, per se, but it's safe to say
that every time you see misplaced capitalization in Winnie-the-Pooh, Milne is
emphasizing something. Consistent with his valuing literacy and signs (check
out "Signs") as a mode of
communication, his use of capital letters upends our usual expectations as
readers when we see capitals.
We typically think of capitalized words as reserved for proper
nouns, or the beginning of sentences. Since he throws them into the middle of
sentences, Milne essentially turns a whole lot of everyday phrases into proper
For example, as he climbs the tree in Chapter 1, Pooh sings a "Complaining
Song" (Winnie-the-Pooh.1.34). By capitalizing this phrase, Milne
essentially creates an official title for this category of song. This is not
just a song in which Pooh complains. Nope, it belongs to the broader realm of
Complaining Songs. Just like "Luncheon Time" (Winnie-the-Pooh.3.46)
or a "Special Outdoor Song Which Has To Be Sung In The Snow"
Too Much Of A GoOd ThInG?
We think not. The distinctive thing about Milne's capitalization
is that He Uses It A Lot. The emphasis created by the capitalization shows How
The Characters Understand Their World, and mimics The Way Children Learn. That
is, kids like to categorize things. It helps create of set of rules help them
understand the world, until something comes along and changes the rules or
until they develop the capacity for nuance.
Milne shows us this by creating such categories that are overly
specific, like describing "just the day for Organizing Something, or for
Writing a Notice Signed Rabbit" (House.5.1). Milne also likes to show us
how these categories are created.
For instance, check out the chapter in which it's shown that
Tiggers don't climb trees. Pooh and Piglet see Tigger and Roo up in a tree and
mistakenly think that they're Jaguars. What does a Jaguar do? Well, explains
Pooh, they hide up in trees and drop on people, because they're "very good
droppers" (House.4.93). This makes such a strong impression on Piglet that
he creates a new category of beings for himself. His next thought is that being
under a "Very Good Dropper would be a Mistake" (House.4.94). So the
capitalization shows us what's really important to our characters, how they
understand the way things connect to form broad categories and concepts.