Hospitality comes naturally to many of the characters in The Wind in the Willows. The text is filled with occurrences of one animal offering food and/or shelter to another. At times it is merely a casual exchange among friends, like Rat’s long standing engagement of going to the Otters’ for dinner, or Rat paying a call on Toad and introducing his friend Mole. At other times, there is a specific need, as when Badger brings Rat and Mole out of the cold of a snowstorm, followed by a pair of lost hedgehogs the next morning. The novel’s most impressive example of hospitality is that of Rat taking Mole into his home, which ends up lasting at least a year, having only met Mole that day. There is neither discussion of payment nor any sort of anticipation that Mole will return the favor. It is simply accepted. Shortly after Mole is invited to stay at Rat’s, the text reads, “When they got home, the Rat made a bright fire in the parlor. . . .” It does not say “when they got to Rat’s home” because it is now home to them both.
Forgiveness comes quickly and easily in The Wind in the Willows, regardless of the size the offense. When Mole apologizes to Rat for taking the sculls away from him in the boat, which leads to Mole and the luncheon basket going overboard, Rat immediately responds with “That’s all right, bless you!” He then goes on to invite Mole to stay...
(The entire section is 1135 words.)
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