Study Guide

Christopher Robin in The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh

By A. A. Milne

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Christopher Robin

Multiple Personalities

We're not trying to get all Fight Club-y on you here, but Christopher Robin has two very distinct personalities in the Pooh books. First, he's a character outside of the narrative in the Forest—the little boy who is listening to or dreaming the stories beside his father, the narrator. Second, he's a character in the stories who interacts with all the quirky talking stuffed animals. Amazingly, these two versions of Christopher Robin are quite different.

CR: The boy

Christopher Robin (the listener) is the "real" Christopher Robin. He's a little boy pulling an inanimate stuffed bear down the stairs, asking for a story, and pretty frequently interrupting the very story he asked for. We're told that this is the boy that inspired the Pooh tales in the first place. So Milne portrays him as a very young child. The illustrations by Shepard in the first chapter show him not much bigger than the bear he drags along, so that gives us some perspective.

Because of his youth, CR the listener has a lot of questions. When Milne narrates about where Pooh lives, CR interrupts the story to ask: "'What does "under the name" mean?'" (Winnie-the-Pooh.1.20.). But when he hears the answer, he doesn't admit his ignorance. Instead, he projects it onto Pooh, and then even speaks for the stuffed bear in response: "'Winnie-the-Pooh wasn't quite sure,' said Christopher Robin. 'Now I am,' said a growly voice" (Winnie-the-Pooh.1.22-23). The boy also shows a sense of wonder when he hears his own name in the stories: "'Was that me?' said Christopher Robin in an awed voice, hardly daring to believe it" (Winnie-the-Pooh.1.42). 

You see, there's something remarkably innocent about real-boy Christopher Robin. He's acting a bit bigger than he is, like one of those kids who insists he's the Fastest Person in the World, or who can lift the Heaviest Rock There Is (as long as it's smaller than a grapefruit). The real Christopher Robin is an audience member--someone taking in the narrative that world throws at him, and soaking it up with awe and wonder.

He Wears the Pants

Literally. Christopher Robin, the character is the only one in the book with pants. Figuratively, CR is the leader, the guide, the caretaker, the problem-solver-of-last-resort among the imagined community of the Forest. The real Christopher Robin is a young child with a lot to learn. In the stories, this immaturity and naiveté is located in the character of Pooh and other animals, and CR the character is now wise and experienced.

How do we know? Well, CR is always the one the animals go to for help. When Pooh falls into the gorse-bush in the first episode, Milne writes, "And the first person he thought of was Christopher Robin" (Winnie-the-Pooh.1.47.) When Pooh gets stuck in Rabbit's front door, Christopher Robin is decisive and assertive: "'Then there's only one thing to be done,' he said. 'We shall have to wait for you to get thin again.'" (Winnie-the-Pooh.2.62-63). He even knows exactly how long that will take: one week. And when Rabbit kidnaps Roo, Kanga knows that he'll be okay. How? Christopher Robin:

Just for a moment, she thought she was frightened, and then she knew she wasn't; for she felt quite sure that Christopher Robin would never let any harm happen to Roo. (Winnie-the-Pooh.7.121).

Of course, CR the character is still a kid, and does lots of kid things. But he's a child who is also an expert, and whatever he says goes in the Forest. Like when Piglet tries to plant an acorn, please, for example. "'It will [grow] because Christopher Robin says it will, so that's why I'm planting it.'" (House.4.27.)

In the end, Christopher Robin represents the multiple facets of childhood. He's your child listening to the stories, and he's your child acting as a leader during play. He's also sooo cute in his plaid jammies.

It's fun to think about the real real CR getting a huge kick out of his father's stories in which he's everyone's rescuer and problem-solver, and where he knows all kinds of useful things about spelling and pumps and knights. And it's touching to think about A.A. Milne creating stories that make his son feel just that way—helping CR see himself as someone becoming strong and capable. 

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