This fairy tale has a KHM 5 label in the collection of stories by Brothers Grimm. It’s also known under several slightly different titles: Wolf and Six Kids, Wolf and Seven Young Goslings, Wolf and Seven Sheep, Wolf and Seven Little Goats, etc.
It’s a relatively simple fairy tale with an obvious cautionary message: don’t open to a stranger. But when we dive under the surface of the story we find many interesting resemblances with other known fairy tales and also a very important myth from old Greece.
There is a she-goat who has seven kids. She needs to go to work every day. This means she must leave them alone at home. Every time she warns them not to open the door to anybody but her and they always promise to obey her rule. Yet one day a wolf comes by and tries to come in. At first, the kids didn’t listen to him. But when he later came disguised as a goat majority of kids believed it’s safe to open the door.
Then the wolf ate all but the youngest kid. The little one hid in a grandfather clock and there his mum founds him when she came back home. Fortunately, they saw the wolf in the neighborhood, sleeping with his stomach full of (still alive) kids. They opened his stomach, release the kids, load it with stones and sew it back together just in time to see how wolf wakes up and thirsty falls into a well.
This is how Oskar Herrfurth portrayed the story in a series of color postcards:
Resemblances with Little Red Riding Hood:
- warning against the danger,
- the carelessness of youngsters,
- gluttony of the wolf,
- help to come from the older character,
- freeing the already eaten victims,
- filling the stomach of the sleeping wolf with stones what eventually kills him.
Resemblances with Three Little Pigs:
- the carelessness of youngsters (two of three),
- the last pig helps the other ones,
- wolf has to try several times before he succeeds.
Resemblances with the myth about Cronus:
- Cronus eats his children (considering the fact their divine nature, that doesn’t kill, just imprisons them),
- Cronus’ wife, the mother of the sixth, the youngest (!) child gives her husband a stone (1) instead of the kid,
- the youngest kid (Zeus) survives thank to a good hideout,
- Zeus later defeats his own father with a blade,
- Cronus is a god of time (chronometer gets its name after that and the youngest kid in the fairy tales hid himself in a grandfathers clock).
You can check a detailed analysis of Wolf and Seven Goats in an article focused particularly on that subject as well.
The moral of the story
The story Wolf and seven kids is offering several clear moral messages:
- don’t trust strangers,
- listen to older ones, they very likely have more experience and knowledge than you,
- brute power is not the only way to enter one’s home, a deception is a popular option too,
- don’t judge others just by their appearance (wolf softens his voice and whitens his paw),
- resting on one’s laurels can be a dangerous habit (sleeping with a stomach full of kids too close to their mom’s house falls into that category, for instance),
If you believe there’s anything to add, don’ hesitate to leave a comment.