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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What is the climax of The Wind in the Willows?

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The storyline of “The Wind in the Willows” is fairly episodic, so it can be hard to point to a specific single climax for the book. Nevertheless, if we understand the book to be about Toad’s change from a dangerously impulsive, immature character to a functioning adult, then the highest point of the action must be the retaking of Toad Hall, in the chapter entitled, “The Return of Ulysses.” Toad, after his escape from jail, returns to the riverbank to find his house inhabited by weasels and stoats. With the help of his friends Badger, Rat, Otter, and Mole, Toad is able to retake his house using a secret tunnel to gain access. 

The climax is a significant moment in the development of Toad’s character. He learns that he needs the help of his friends to reclaim his home. Mole also learns that he is a brave and capable person, since it is his “reconnaissance“ mission to Toad Hall that draws the weasels out of the building, giving Toad and his allies a significant advantage in the attack.

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The climax of The Wind of the Willows takes place after Toad escapes from prison and evicts the stoats and weasels that have taken over his house, Toad Hall. With the help of Badger, Mole, and Rat, Toad follows a secret tunnel into his house and attacks the intruders, who flee. At the celebration that Toad gives afterward, he humbly thanks his friends and is finally aware of the value of their friendship. This marks the climax of the action because the book has been filled up until this point with ongoing action, including Toad's constant road accidents and his failure to heed his friends. After Toad and his friends retake Toad Hall, Toad recognizes what is truly valuable--his friends--and decides to live peacefully and responsibly ever after. The action falls after Toad retakes his house and settles down to a quiet and happy life with his friends.

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