Study Guide

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh Honey

By A. A. Milne

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It's the best. The ultimate. The crème de la crème. The cherry on top. The pot-o-gold at the end of the rainbow. The green light across the water. The crunchy part on the top of crème brulee. In other words, it's good.

I Do It All for the Honey

Honey is the single driving force behind all Pooh's behavior. In the very first chapter, Pooh tells us, "'the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it'" (Winnie-the-Pooh.1.29). In fact, it's this instinctual drive for satisfying his hunger that leads to many of Pooh's great innovations. He learns to fly in pursuit of honey in the first episode. He takes to the water thanks to his big honey pots (Winnie-the-Pooh.9).

And the quest for honey even inspires many of his social outings and friendships. Take the chapter in which Piglet does a very grand thing. Pooh explains why he wants to go visit everybody—"'Because when you've been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody's house, and he says, "Hallo, Pooh, you're just in time for a little smackerel of something," and you are, then it's what I call a Friendly Day." (House.8.6). And "friendly" is even capitalized, so you know it's a big deal (see the section on capital letters for more on that). So Honey is important to Pooh, our protagonist. Which also means it's important to us, the readers.

What's Your "Honey?"

Let's take a step back then, and use a broader lens. We all have our "honey," the thing that motivates us. There's some significance that it's food in the Pooh tales. For all animals, people included, hunger's our primary instinct. Evolutionary theory dictates that all our actions are aimed at survival, and eating is on top of the survival list.

The quest for survival is what helped us evolve into bipeds; it led us to some of our greatest innovations like cooking, irrigation, and reality television. It's even the driving force behind our instinct to socialize, since working together is the best way to safely get food.

Milne may not have been thinking about all this evolutionary stuff when he wrote about Pooh's endless quest for honey, but he certainly wanted to use that storyline to get us thinking about what motivates us. We here at Shmoop just wanted to take that extra step to remind you how primal that motivation actually is, and how so much else flows from it.

PS: it doesn't have to be food. But food is definitely a good one. We're thinking of you, honey mustard pretzel bites. 

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh Honey Study Group

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