Study Guide

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh Houses

By A. A. Milne

Houses

You Are What You Read (in)

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: a bear's house is a mirror into his personality. In Milne's stories, homes and houses are practical, and they perfectly suit the characters who live there. In one of his first songs, Pooh marvels:

If Bears were Bees,
They'd build their nests at the bottom of trees,
And that being so (if the Bees were Bears),
We shouldn't have to climb up all these stairs.
(Winnie-the-Pooh.1.33)

In other words, when bears make their houses, they do it in a practical way.

So when Milne describes a character's house for us, we can safely assume that it defines that character to some extent. Christopher Robin lives in a tree in the center of the forest, high atop a hill. So, he is literally in the center of this world, which has been created around his own playful imagination. Rabbit, on the other hand, lives in a small burrow, allowing him to insulate himself from his friends when he wants to. Owl lives perched high up in a tree, paralleling his feeling of superiority among the other characters.

Sure, these are the natural abodes of woodland animals, and fit into how Milne characterizes his figures (See "Characterization: Type of Being.") But consider Eeyore. He has no house at all in the first tales, illustrating his aimlessness and sense of estrangement in the woods. But once he has a house of sticks, thanks to Pooh and Piglet, he's more rooted in the community, and starts to demonstrate greater agency in involving himself with the goings-on of his friends.