“Right away the huntsman guessed what had happened. ... So he took out his knife and quickly killed the wolf while he lay sleeping. Then he carefully cut open the wolf’s stomach.
“At the first cut, he saw the red velvet cloak, and after a few more slashes a little girl jumped out and cried, ‘Oh, thank you! I was very frightened! It was so dark inside the wolf!’”
Hmmm. Many modern versions of the Little Red Riding Hood mythos don’t include the hunter actually cutting open the wolf. However, I suspect this version touches on a particularly ancient tradition.
And I suspect this version and the ancient tradition say a lot about what is really happening in this story. I think most people kind of/sort of have a feeling that fairy tales are about much more than just the superficial events narrated in the story.
I suspect this business about cutting open the wolf is the narrative clue that in the Old Times people intuitively understood that the darkness inside the wolf, along with the warmth and digestive juices, would activate deeply encoded genetic programs inside the cells of the Little Red Riding Hood creature. The cells of the Little Red Riding Hood creature would then start to grow and multiply, furiously dividing and reproducing the Little Red Riding Hood creature. Soon two Little Red Riding Hood creatures would burst out through the wolf’s abdomen, just like those creatures in the movie “Alien.”
(The movie “Alien” and its rip-offs are all contemporary incarnations of the Little Red Riding Hood mythos. That’s why there is almost always a young woman as the protagonist. I suspect there is also a large content of something like genetic memory, what people used to call ‘race memory,’ at work in these films which feature creatures that, in the course of their feeding and reproducing, rip their way through a person’s abdomen. Of course, in the original “Alien” the character played by Sigourney Weaver, “Ripley,” [that is, Rip-ley] rips apart the creature’s life cycle, killing it, even though she has no intention of eating the creature or using it to reproduce herself. In this kind of thing there is always more going on than meets the eye.)
This reading of the Little Red Riding Hood mythos preserves the “happy ending” consistent with a traditional fairy tale format. The Little Red Riding Hood creature is prevented from reproducing. The wolf is killed, but the wolf’s death is in service to what philosophers characterize as the ‘greater good’ of preventing the spread of Little Red Riding Hoods.
And, also consistent with a traditional fairy tale format, this reading maintains a strong moral. A real moral. Of course, the actual moral of the Little Red Riding Hood mythos is not targeted only at young girls and has nothing to do with ‘staying on the path’ or ‘avoiding strangers.’ The real moral of the Little Red Riding Hood mythos is much more primal.
The real moral of the Little Red Riding Hood mythos is: Just because something looks good that doesn’t mean you should eat it.
I hope everybody has a happy Halloween!