I simply love the story of “The 3 Little Pigs”. When I was very young, my mom used to read it to me before bed. She would do very dramatic readings of it and act out all the parts (which is the reason I became the dramatic storyteller I am today!) When I became a preschool teacher, I read the story to my kids and it was always a big hit. When I left teaching to become a storyteller, “The 3 Little Pigs” was one of my favorite stories to tell. I went from dramatic readings of the book to a full blown telling of the tale using puppets (a wolf) and props (most notably a pig nose)
In the last 20 or so years as a storyteller, I have told “The 3 Little Pigs” hundreds of times. It never fails to thrill the crowd, and I always get lots of laughs from the way I tell it. I regularly tell the tale because it is an essential story for kids to know. It pits good (the pigs) against evil (the Big Bad Wolf) with good prevailing in the end. I always saw “The 3 Pigs” as a perfect story. Very recently however that all changed!
One day while telling the tale to a group of preschoolers, I had a stunning realization. I actually stopped mid telling to think about what I had just discovered. I went on with the tale, but at the end of the show I was shocked. What I had realized, was that there is an amazingly large plot hole in the “The 3 Little Pigs”
To understand the plot hole, let us recap the story for the 0.00001% of people who haven’t heard it. Three pigs go out into the world to start their lives. One pig is very industrious and builds his house out of bricks. The other two pigs are slackers and spend their days goofing around. The industrious pig warns them about the potential danger of the Big Bad Wolf. To appease him, one builds a house of straw, the other makes a house of sticks. The wolf shows up, the pigs shelter in place and the trouble starts. He shows up at the pig’s house made of straw and utters the line “Little Pig little Pig let me in” the pig says the now iconic “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin”. Wolf says “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!”. He then proceeds to do so, causing the pig to run to his brother’s house of sticks. The whole scenario is repeated and the two pigs head to their brother’s house of bricks. After the exchange and the threat, the wolf tries to blow down the brick house to no avail. He then tries to get in through the chimney only to end up falling into boiling water, and either running away burnt or dying (depending on the intensity level of the teller or author). The pigs of course live happily ever after, and it is assumed the other two pigs hire contractors and build equally strong brick houses.
So there is the tale, and on its face it seems to be pretty solid. However there is one BIG hole. When the wolf shows up at the house of straw, he asks to be let in, threatening to blow the house down if he isn’t. The pig naturally refuses and the wolf blows the house down. The question is, why did the wolf have to go through the formality of asking to be let in in the first place? The pig clearly was not going to let him in. Whether the wolf was there to eat him (and to be fair he never actually stated that outright initially) or sell him insurance, the pig was playing the odds that letting a hungry wolf into the house would not end well for him. As we know, once the wolf blows down the house he goes after the pig, proving that the pig had the right instinct.
The wolf wanted to eat the pig and had the means to blow down the house the whole time. So why didn’t the wolf just not gone through the process of asking to be let in, blow down the house, eat the pig and move on with his life? Sure, he was thwarted by the house of bricks, (because regulations clearly stipulate brick houses need to be able to withstand storms, earthquakes, and giant wolves). However if he had just skipped the formalities, he could have blown down two houses, eaten two pigs and never had to deal with the brick house at all.
Who knows, maybe the wolf was raised with really good manners and even in a situation where he wanted a pork dinner he needed to be polite. Maybe he was a bit under the weather and figured he could get in to eat the pigs the direct way without having to exert himself. It could also be that he didn’t want to eat the pigs at all, but his rejection after being refused to be let in sent him into a rage. If you think about it (and I have), there are many other reasons you can come up with as to why the wolf behaved as he did
No matter how you look at however, there is no denying that there is a giant plot hole right at the center of this tale. Of course knowing this does not diminish my love for the story, or stop me from telling it. In fact in addition to the regular way, I also now tell a two minute version where the wolf just takes care of business from the start. I will keep wearing my pig nose,working with my wolf puppet, and telling “The 3 Little Pigs” no matter how flawed the story may be 🙂