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One Story/Many Variations

Little Red Riding Hood

It’s a tale that you all know. Or at least you think you do. But you may find that it doesn’t always go the way you expect as you look at and watch these assorted variations.

To start, what do you remember?

How do you remember Little Red Riding Hood ending?

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How old the story is or where it came from aren’t really answerable questions. There are stories from the classical Greek and Roman period, Norse myths, from Northern Africa, and others that share similarities. It has been connected with the stories “The Paths of Pins and Needles” and “The Grandmother’s Tale.”

The earliest written version in the form of that we know, was published in 1697 by Charles Perrault as part of his Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec des moralités: Contes de ma mère l’Oye under the title “Le Petit Chaperon Rouge” or The Little Red Cap. Please read it now:

Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature who was ever seen. Her mother was excessively fond of her; and her grandmother doted on her still more. This good woman had a little red riding hood made for her. It suited the girl so extremely well that everybody called her Little Red Riding Hood.

One day her mother, having made some cakes, said to her, “Go, my dear, and see how your grandmother is doing, for I hear she has been very ill. Take her a cake, and this little pot of butter.”

Little Red Riding Hood set out immediately to go to her grandmother, who lived in another village.

As she was going through the wood, she met with a wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up, but he dared not, because of some woodcutters working nearby in the forest. He asked her where she was going. The poor child, who did not know that it was dangerous to stay and talk to a wolf, said to him, “I am going to see my grandmother and carry her a cake and a little pot of butter from my mother.”

“Does she live far off?” said the wolf

“Oh I say,” answered Little Red Riding Hood; “it is beyond that mill you see there, at the first house in the village.”

“Well,” said the wolf, “and I’ll go and see her too. I’ll go this way and go you that, and we shall see who will be there first.”

The wolf ran as fast as he could, taking the shortest path, and the little girl took a roundabout way, entertaining herself by gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and gathering bouquets of little flowers. It was not long before the wolf arrived at the old woman’s house. He knocked at the door: tap, tap.

“Who’s there?”

“Your grandchild, Little Red Riding Hood,” replied the wolf, counterfeiting her voice; “who has brought you a cake and a little pot of butter sent you by mother.”

The good grandmother, who was in bed, because she was somewhat ill, cried out, “Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up.”

The wolf pulled the bobbin, and the door opened, and then he immediately fell upon the good woman and ate her up in a moment, for it been more than three days since he had eaten. He then shut the door and got into the grandmother’s bed, expecting Little Red Riding Hood, who came some time afterwards and knocked at the door: tap, tap.

“Who’s there?”

Little Red Riding Hood, hearing the big voice of the wolf, was at first afraid; but believing her grandmother had a cold and was hoarse, answered, “It is your grandchild Little Red Riding Hood, who has brought you a cake and a little pot of butter mother sends you.”

The wolf cried out to her, softening his voice as much as he could, “Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up.”

Little Red Riding Hood pulled the bobbin, and the door opened.

The wolf, seeing her come in, said to her, hiding himself under the bedclothes, “Put the cake and the little pot of butter upon the stool, and come get into bed with me.”

Little Red Riding Hood took off her clothes and got into bed. She was greatly amazed to see how her grandmother looked in her nightclothes, and said to her, “Grandmother, what big arms you have!”

“All the better to hug you with, my dear.”

“Grandmother, what big legs you have!”

“All the better to run with, my child.”

“Grandmother, what big ears you have!”

“All the better to hear with, my child.”

“Grandmother, what big eyes you have!”

“All the better to see with, my child.”

“Grandmother, what big teeth you have got!”

“All the better to eat you up with.”

And, saying these words, this wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding Hood, and ate her all up.

Moral: Children, especially attractive, well-bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say “wolf,” but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all.

source: Lang, Andrew The Blue Fairy Book, 1889, taken from Perrault

Was this the story you remembered? Comment below!

19 thoughts on “One Story/Many Variations

  1. This is exactly as I remember and the one I read to my children after we had to talk about why they should not talk to strangers. This story was a great fit for the message I was trying to teach them.

  2. The ending is different from the version that I heard.
    Where is the woodsmen who saves Little Red Riding Hood? That was the question that my children asked when I finished this story. According to my children, the analogies might be a little too harsh when it comes to teaching a child a life lesson about strangers. They believe that It can potentially cause trust issues between children and adults, and make it significantly harder for a child to detect whether an adult’s kindness is a trap, such as when the wolf was luring in little red riding hood. Parents should be the ones who should teach their children about the dangerous consequences of talking with strangers. When I asked what message they got from the story, they responded in unison that the message was ” Do not trust anyone or else you may die”. As I was discussing with a friend, age might influence they way children understand the message of the story. For example: Children in the first years of their lives might not know the concept of death, but older children who have lost a significant person in their lives can grasp the concept death. Therefore, the end of the story might have different message depending the children age. For example, toddlers might understand that if you go with a stranger, you will disappear and never be seen again. Meanwhile for more mature children, the message is deadly tragic.

  3. Little Red Riding Hood is a common story that I had heard when I was young even though I am of Chinese origin. I remember that this story made me feel nervous about the little red riding hood’s fate when I was young since the reader has a God view of what danger waiting in front of her.
    After reading the 1697 version of Charles Perrault, I am surprised that the end of the story should be a tragedy with a dark ending. In my memory, never have I ever remembered that the little red riding hood was eaten by wolf. Therefore, I browse some relative web pages and want to figure out what happens to the little red riding hood. In this way, I find that the classical version has another important character which is the hunter. The classical version of this story should be that a hunter killed the wolf and he opened the belly of the wolf and found that the little red riding hood was in it and still alive. In this way, the end should be a happy one.
    I have also remembered another version which was mainly about how smart the little red riding hood is and how she saves herself and kills the wolf with her wisdom. Of course, in this way, the versions may be varied and the translator or adaptor of different countries may adapt the story with their imagination and refers to their domestic fairy tales.
    Here is a common Chinese version and I translate it in English: The wolf waited for Little Red Riding Hood to follow her secretly when she returned home in the evening, trying to eat her while it was dark. But grandma saw through this guy’s bad thoughts. She remembered a big stone trough in front of the house, and said to the little girl, “Little Red Riding Hood, bring the bucket. I made some sausages yesterday, and I brought some water to cook the sausages into the stone trough.” Little Red Riding Hood then fetched lots of water and fill that big stone trough full. The smell of sausage floated into the wolf’s nostrils. It sniffed it vigorously, and looked down. In the end it stretched its neck too long and its body began to slide down. It slid off the roof and fell into the big rock trough, drowning. Little Red Riding Hood returned home happily, and no one ever hurt her again. This version was a typical Chinese story because it has a happy ending as well as shows the folk wisdom and this is what stories always want to convey.
    I also check some modern adaptation and found that the little red riding hood has already become a kid of element. Many scriptwriters just use the original plain story’s character ( grandma, little red riding hood as well as the wolf) to add more content in the story so as to make the story more rich. It tells the children that only by giving full play to their ingenuity, can they be brave in the face of difficulties and dangers. The fairy tale adaptation of “Little Red Riding Hood” allows children to subtly learn the philosophy of life while receiving artistic enlightenment.

  4. The Little Red Riding Hood story have many different variations,
    is among the most popular fairy tales in the world.After reading the story of Little Red Riding Hood I can say that I was not expecting the ending that it had.children need to beware of our surroundings and to be so very careful in speaking to strangers.

  5. This is a different ending than the one I grew up hearing. As I think back to the endings of the stories my mother used to tell me as a child im realizing that she changed up a lot of the sad and scary endings to happy ones. Which in a way I guess was her way of protecting me. As a child you dont realize that the stories and fairytales you grew up hearing have any morals or lessons to them. So as adults re-reading then now you understand the story in a new light and you see the lessons that the authors were trying to teach.

  6. Before reading this version, I did not remember how the little red riding hood ended. I always just assumed it was a happy story and the wolf ties up the grandmother instead of eating her. It is so interesting to see that stories typically meant for kids can be very dark while portraying a very relevant message however. Kids are super vulnerable and need to know not to talk to random people and share personal information with them.

  7. Halfway through the story, it was similar to what I have read as a child. But then the ending changed a whole lot as to where the wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood and what I read was right when the wolf would open his mouth to eat Little Red Riding Hood the woodcutters would shot the wolf and take out the old grandmother from his belly. Teaching us the big moral of the story to not stop and talk to strangers at all. Children especially are vulnerable to these types of danger and continue to occur.

  8. As a child, I remember reading this version of Little Red Hood and as a child it was scary and suspenseful because when a child hears about fairytale they expect magic, joyful and a happy ending. But, clearly it was unexpected in Little Red Riding Hood as she gets eaten by the bad guy. Even though Ive heard this versions multiple times, there are other variations with different endings that are happy but some are sad too and they follow the same concept as the original.

  9. The Charles Perrault version is very similar to what I remember being told up until the end. I remember being told two primary versions of this story, one in which the grandma is not killed and eaten but in the basement/other room and comes and saves little red riding hood, and another where red riding hood saves herself and slays the wolf.

  10. The ”Little Red Riding Hood” by Charles Perrault is not much different from the story’s variation I have known since I was little. Comparing this tale to the standard version I have learned, you notice that the general structure is the same: a young girl heading out to see her grandmother meets a wolf and then runs into it again at her grandmother’s house. Still, Charles Perrault included some differences. The version I learned starts with Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother rushing home after her having dinner with Little Red Riding Hood and the mother because she is afraid to encounter the bad wolf on her way home. In Perrault’s version, this is not mentioned at all. Also, Perrault’s version is missing a hunter. In the version I have learned, a huntsman appears at the appropriate time and helps save Red Riding Hood and her grandmother from the wolf’s hungry jaws. Perrault’s variation of the tale is much more terrible, with no happy ending because of the absence of the huntsman.

  11. I think that the story suits the message very well but this isn’t the story I remember, I remember that the huntsman or lumberjack would hear a scream and then break down the door and that’s when he would cut open the wolf and save the grandma and little red riding hood. Still gruesome and not very accurate but that’s what I’m used to hearing. I think I would read this story for sure to show a lesson to a class of kids when teaching them about not talking to strangers.

  12. I remember this story really well because growing up this used to be one of my favorites and I would end up reading it a lot and I remember at the end the hunter would kill the wolves and save the red riding hood and her grandma.

  13. This is exactly how I remember this story. Except I may be wrong but I do remember little red not having a mother because her mother was eaten by a wolf & she lived with her grandmother who had gotten sick. Her grandmother always warned her about going out because of the wolves. Little red ran to the market to get some ingredients for soup & when she came back it was the wolf instead. That was the only difference I could recall but I may have the tales mixed up with something else.

  14. This is the ending that I remember in the little red riding hood, however, like Alexis stated above, I also don’t remember the mother in the story. Over the years I’ve also heard different variations of this story, but I guess I understand why that is. I remember being a bit afraid when I first read the story, so it’s understandable that many people change the ending so that children do not get afraid.

  15. I have read this version of the story but I remember being really scared. The version that I liked was the one where the grandmother saves Little Red Riding Hood because I liked happy endings. There are many variations of this fairy tale because children are often frightened from the one where the wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood so coming up with a different variation with a happy ending is deemed suitable for children.

  16. Definitely hit a nostalgic nerve. This is one of the stories that was very good at allowing your readers to play around with their ability to use imagery. This version does a very good job at putting the scenes into place, I think this is very important especially or a children’s book print that does not contain drawings. Although I really remember the same type of ending, I remember the little red riding hood was at least saved from the peril.

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