illustrated portraits of Toad, Mole, Rat, and Badger set against a woodland scene

The Wind in the Willows

by Kenneth Grahame

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How does Mole conduct his spring cleaning in The Wind in the Willows?

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In The Wind in the Willows, Mole goes about his cleaning with a great deal of energy, climbing 0n ladders, dusting, and even painting. However, a "divine longing" causes him to abandon his cleaning to be out in the beautiful spring air.

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As the book begins, Mole goes about his spring cleaning very industriously and with great energy. He uses brooms and dustpans to sweep, and he makes sure he gets every corner of the house clean by climbing up on steps, ladders, and chairs. He even goes so far as to begin to whitewash or paint his interior. We learn that he gets dust in his throat and eyes and splotches of paint on his fur, and he becomes achy and tired from his vigorous work.

Grahame characterizes Mole from the start in a positive way as a hardworking animal who likes tidiness, thoroughness, and order, and who knows that spring is the time to spruce up his home.

We might like him even better, however, as we learn that he abandons his vigorous cleaning because he smells spring in the air. The feeling of spring raises in him a "divine longing" to be out and about in the wider world, not stuck in his dark underground abode. Although clearly a responsible mole, he allows himself to give in to his desire, which is God-given ("divine"), to be outdoors and above ground in the warm and beautiful spring weather. He burrows his way up until his head pops through the earth and into the air, and so his adventures begin.

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