Little Red Riding Hood Narrations in the Post-truth Form

Vladimir Propp criticizes the research made before him on the fairy tale in his Morphology of the Folktale and says: "In order to investigate the origins and sources of the fairytale, it is first necessary to know what the fairy tale is" (Rifat 9).

“Little Red Riding Hood”, one of the Grimm’ Fairy Tales, overlaps with the classical structure of Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folktale, in which the morphological features and structures of the tales are taken into consideration by looking at the morphological features, which are repeated and resemble to each other in various versions of supernatural tales. According to Propp, "the actions of tale people are the main parts of the tales" (Rifat 11), each action has a function and these functions are "dispersed within the spheres of action of seven persons: the sphere of action of the villain (the bad person); of the donor (provider); of the helper; of a princess (a sought-for person) and of her father; of action of the dispatcher; of the hero; and of action of the false hero" (12). Functions can be classified in thirty separate forms.[1] What he means by function is "the act of a character, defined from the point of view of its significance for the course of action" (Propp 24). Therefore, the functions that are classified are actually the main parts which constitute the tale. There may be a limited number of functions in a fairy tale, as they do not always have to follow the same order, but in any case, they are all connected to the same type in terms of structure.

The plot in the two narrations of the "Little Red Riding Hood" is based on the sphere of actions of the wolf (villain), the hunter (donor), the mother (dispatcher), the grandmother (sought-for person), and the Little Red Riding Hood (hero). Functionally, the Little Red Riding Hood gets away from the house (Function 1: one member of a family absents himself from home); the mother warns her daughter: "Take the road before it gets hot; be docile when you walk through the forest, do not turn right or left... Remember, when you enter, you will say 'Good morning!' "(Grimm 188) (Function 2: an interdiction is addressed to the hero); The wolf sees the girl and asks her where she is going, what she carries, and where her grandmother is (189) (Function 4 and 5: the villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance and receives information about his victim); The grandmother is ill and needs healing (Function 8: one member of a family either lacks something or desires to have something); "I must be cunning, so I can capture both of them together," the wolf thinks, and tricks the character. "Turn your head and look at those beautiful flowers on your right and left! Why don’t you look around? God knows, you do not hear the birds singing sweetly? You walk by looking at only the front as if you head to the school. Everywhere is filled with joy but you do not know about it"(a. y.) (VI. The villain attempts to deceive his victim in order to take possession of him or of his belongings); she believes in him, “If I take a bunch of fresh flowers, my grandmother will be happy for sure. Anyhow it is too early, I will not be late” (ibid) (Function 7: the victim submits to deception and thereby unwittingly helps his enemy) so the first rule made by her mother was broken "do not leave towards the right or the left from the road!" (188) (Function 3: the interdiction is violated); the wolf goes home, deceives grandma and eats her (190) (Function 8: the villain causes harm or injury to a member of a family); then, he eats the Red Riding Hood and sleeps. At that moment, a hunter, who is passing by the house, supposes that the snore of the wolf is the voice of grandmother, and goes in. He sees the wolf and says: "So you're here? I have been looking for you for a long time" and cuts the stomach of the wolf. (191)(Function 10: the seeker agrees to or decide upon counteraction); the grandmother and the girl are released, the stomach of the wolf is filled with stones, the wolf dies, the hunter wins the hide of the wolf (192) (Function 18: the villain is defeated); the grandmother eats the cake brought by the grandchild, drinks milk and gets relaxed (Function 19: the initial misfortune or deficiencies are met); thus, the fairy tale ends with a happy ending.[2] Similarly, the second version of the fairy tale ends with the death of the wolf. This time the Little Red Riding Hood and the Grandmother are cautious because they took lessons from previous adventures. They do not open the door and set traps to the wolf (194). However, the fairy tale is received in its first version by protecting the classical structure, and additionally many adaptations are made. In the post-truth, the ways of the reception of the fairy tale are varied, and even if some of the classical functions, which are explained by Propp in the structure, are preserved, the structure of the tale is broken deliberately. In these texts, where the distinction between villain and victim is revised, and where the deficiencies need to be filled, directed to the fairytale by moving away from the character; new messages replaces with the message that classical fairy tale aims to convey. It introduces new meanings to new readers by attracting attention to the plurality and relativity of the truth together with the diversity of fiction and utterance. One of these texts, Who is Afraid of Little Red Riding Hood, focuses on –both in a visual and textual sense- the point that the wolf has a mother and the way of a raising a child is important.


The Transformation of the Character, who Left Home: What if the Victim is the Wolf?

The main characters of Who is Afraid of Little Red Riding Hood, are the mother and the puppy. Little Red Riding Hood and the Hunter are the secondary characters to be avoided. In the narrative, the first function begins with the puppy, who wants to go to the forest alone as a grown person (Şahinkanat, 2). Even if the mother reacts this desire positively, she tests him. Thus, the prohibition of the text on the puppy emerges respectively. The puppy should hide behind the bushes when he sees Little Red Riding Hood (10), if he sees a grandmother sleeping in a house when he gets sleepy and hungry, he should not go inside but run (13), and he should not take a nap under a tree nearby the river when he is full and sleepy (17). However, at this point in the narrative, the puppy breaks the rule and pretends as if he falls asleep, and makes his mother afraid: "Let's say I am full and not sleepy. A tree shadow nearby the river… Such a pleasure should not be missed"(ibid.) However, he has a plan for himself –in fact he is a vegetarian. He designed a poster for the Hunter in advance:

Thus; the puppy, who passes his mother’s test, leaves home (22). Here, the first structural function of the classical fairy tale appears again. However, the text ends by leaving the possibility of how the fairy tale could be rewritten, to the imagination of the reader when the narrator rewrites the narrative by reversing it. Therefore, he removes the villain-victim relationship. Another example of this situation is seen in Very Little Red Riding Hood. The wolf turns into the favorite playmate of Little Red Riding Hood.


The Transformation in the Character's Function: Playmate Wolf and Energetic Grandmother

Very Little Red Riding Hood text is also connected to the first function of the classical fairy tale with the departure of the little girl from the house. The prohibition that the mother puts on her daughter is appeared as "the reverse form of the ban, command or suggestion" in this narrative (Propp 30): "Let's see. Be nice to your grandmother. And try not to break anything! "(Heapy 3). So, it becomes the nature of the first changing ban. The danger that the girl should avoid is not the danger outside, but the objects that should not be broken in the house, and this concern are manifestations of the compression of living space into the house in the modern world. In this narrative, one of the first things that the little girl must know is the adaptation to the inner place. The encounter of villain and victim in the classical narrative appears with the transformation of the wolf here. When the girl first sees the wolf, she hugs him by saying "a cute fox" instead of being afraid (4). The wolf is surprised by this sincere approach and says "You are brave" (6). However, the girl knows that she is not brave. She even tells that she is going to the Grandma before the wolf asks about it. What the wolf wants is to eat the cake rather than harm the character. He tries to deceive her to eat the cake but fails because the little girl does not like the yellow flower that the wolf offers (9). The wolf will have to offer her red flowers. All of a sudden, their relationship evolves into playmate relationship rather than the villain-victim one. They start playing tag game. When they arrive to the grandma’s house, the wolf with a bunch of flowers in his hand wants to go inside, but Grandma does not allow him. The wolf stares inside from outside of the window. At this point, the reason why little girl leaves the house becomes clear: the need for playing games instead of meeting the needs of somebody from the family: "I brought my bag, red teddy bear, my cups and blanket. Would you like some tea, you cute fox?" (13). Hence, the wolf gets permission from the Grandma to enter the house. They all play games together. Unlike the classical tale, the Grandma is very energetic. They meet the girl’s need of playing games. However, in the evening, what the little girl really needs becomes clear: "I wannnntttttttt a mother!" (18). They try every way to console her but the little girl keeps crying. At that very moment, the wolf has an idea, and then, the questioning of the classical fairy tales is incorporated into the narrative by changing its form and function:

 The wolf began trying.

 "Your eyes are so big and wet," he said.

"How big and mucous your nose is," he said.

"How big and red mouth you have," the wolf said.


"Now I will  ..."

"I'll tickle you so much!" (21-25)

In this new form, who asks is the wolf and who is been asked is the little girl. The "tickling" action removes the villain-victim relationship altogether. The wolf’s ability to get information is again based on deception, but this time it is for a good reason. At the end of the narration, everyone sleeps happily, and hence, the narration is formed in a way that there is no loser. Here, the transformation of the fairy tale occurs largely in content rather than the structure. The structural transformation of the fairy tale appears in The Wolf Who Fell Out of a Book, which has post-modern fiction features.


Structural Transformation: the Wolf Seeking for Himself

Unlike the Little Red Riding Hood narratives, there are two secondary characters in The Wolf Who Fell Out of a Book: Deniz, the owner of the library where the wolf falls, and his cat. The narrative begins with the fall of a book from the shelf in a library. When the book falls, it hits the ground such hard that the wolf, rushes out from the book. The wolf is afraid of this world unknown to him, but the real danger that should be avoided is the Deniz’s cat. 

This is because, when the cat sees the wolf and a chase begins among the shelves of the library. At this point, the book turns into a house just like the wolf is the one who leaves the home. The venue is Deniz's room and the characters are the other books that the wolf tries to penetrate. When the wolf runs from the cat, he tries to enter in a book in which there are many sheep. However, the sheep dismiss him: "What are you doing here? It is not your turn yet." (6). After that, he tries to enter another one. This time, the wolves in the book get angry with him because he was not present at the place where he had to be, and they reject him. There is another book where a prom is held and the wolf tries it too. However, once again, he encounters the problem of not having a suitable dress for the prom. The wolf, who thinks that other wolves will make fun of him if he wears a dress for the prom, leaves also this place and finds himself among the dinosaurs in the Stone Age. The wolf, who runs from the dinosaurs, encounters the cat and jumps into the first book he sees. This is a forest which is familiar to the wolf. He is in the milieu of his own narrative. However, he is not aware of this situation dues to the post-modern structural games. The wolf loves this place and sees a little crying girl in a red dress when he walks around. The girl is a Little Red Riding Hood trying to take cookie and butter for her grandmother as in the classical fairy tale, but there is something wrong here. There is no wolf to encounter in the forest, and if she does not come in time, the story is in the risk of ruin (22). The wolf, at this point, is the hero to save the course of the story:

- Well. I am the wolf here. I'm black. I have huge teeth... I can help you if you want....

- Would you do this for me? Are you going to not chase the children or eat sheep?

- No... I have no other work to do.

- Do you want to walk to Grandma's house with me? I teach you what you have to do on the way.

- Why not! (23-24)

Thus, the wolf learns what to do and they continue to the story after gaining their roles. The text, at this point, reminds the reader that how a text which is read or explained with a Brechtian break in the classical fairy tale looks like. It does not only change the functions of the characters, but also transforms the tale into a theatre that has its own structure. The other books the wolf tries to enter are also a way of association or dissociation of the book that the reader has in his/her hand. The fact that the wolf is not welcomed by the other wolves and is dismissed from the other narratives can be interpreted as the transformation of the classical structure. Propp argues that this transformation can be observed in fourteen different ways, such as "decomposition", "expansion", "distortion", “inversion”, "intensification and mitigation", "internal transformation", "realistic transformation", "religious faith based transformation" and “vain faith based transformation” (161-168). He considers the dismissal act as a demonstration of the intensification function. On the other hand, another remarkable transformation in the narrative is the return of the villain-victim relationship. The villain is the cat and the victim the wolf. But the narrative again reconstructs the classical structure and constructs a narrative in which the seeker does not get harmed but even finds himself. In other words, it constructs a new structure that the character turns into a narrative subject. In this narrative, he is aware of the fact that his villain-victim relationship with the Red Riding Hood is only a fiction. Yet, who has the control is not the character but the narrative this time. Therefore, the subject does not include himself in the narrative by fictionalizing himself but he is subject to the narrative. The characters who want to be part of narrating will appear in Another Little Red Riding Hood.


The Narrative Playing with the Structure: Temporality, Historicity and Characters as Readers

In Another Little Red Riding Hood, readers as narrators criticize artificial happy endings. To do that, they declare that the book is from the "anti-classics" series, and argue that they discovered the fabrication of previous written works. Moreover, according to them, it is needed to question the donation of a character who emerges spontaneously in the classical fairy tale. A grandma, Karoline, becomes the narrator of this text, which is a kind of rewriting, and the narration begins with a promotion which can be considered as a frame story (Scaliter 3). First of all, Karoline begins deconstructing the classical structure by criticizing the syntagm of the rhymes of the fairy tale. Here criticism is about time: "My little listeners always tell me, ‘Dear grandma, your tales are really weird. None of them begins with ‘once upon a time ...’. Well, of course it will be like that. It does not make sense to begin as usual all the time"(4). At this point, the words of the grandma gives meaning to the text as well as reminding us Ricoeur, who focused on temporality: "Temporality is the primordial ‘outside-of-itself’ in and for itself. This differentiation is intrinsically implied by temporalization insofar as it is a process that gathers together in dispersing. The passage from future to past and to present is both a unification and a diversification” (Ricoeur 121). The narrator of the Another Little Red Riding Hood speaks in a temporality that also includes the historicity of Little Red Riding Hoods. It brings together the present of the reader with the temporality of the text. The attention has been paid to universality and historicity of the text. Therefore, the audience decides to organize the "World Little Red Riding Hoods Congress" and develops a critical attitude towards the previous and other versions of the tale all around the world. Moreover, in her narrative, she also includes the time when the out-of-text of the text was written: "In addition, of course, some people has tale discs in which the tales were recorded." (Scaliter 6). Ultimately, it makes a call to all the Red Riding Hoods in the world. It, also, makes the characters to write the future of the narrative in the present of it by combining the temporality and the historicity. What speaks to the readers now are the female characters who write their own tale. Moreover, as a global-local example on the Turkish scale, Ayşecik is also included in the text. She "becomes the first audience of the tale, who decides to organize ‘The World Little Red Riding Hoods Congress’, in which all the other Red Riding Hoods will come together to make the changes." (8). "And beyond reading, it is in effective action instructed by the works that the reception of the text is transformed into reformation… The formulation marks the intersection between the world of the text and the world of the listener or the reader, the intersection, therefore, between the world configured by the poem and the world within which effective action is unfolded and itself unfolds its specific temporality” (Ricoeur 267). The reader and writer characters of Another Little Red Riding Hood begin their work by questioning the truth of the classical narrative.

Characters try to portray an evil creature that brings together the features of global-local evil creatures in their own tale, such as Namik Kemal, who depicts the beauty of the “beloved” in classical literature. An unbelievable creature was born in the end. Later on, it is questioned that why Little Red Riding Hood has a red cloak. An answer from history is given: "In the past, the most popular color among women, the flowers in the nature, some fruits, and the color of clouds during sunshine were called red. Moreover, in all the languages in the world, same things always come to one’s mind when somebody says red" (Scaliter 10). Here, Strauss’ understanding of myths has been concretized. He remarks the mythical discourse attributed to the red color. At this moment, impatient Cinderella asks how the tales should be like, and the rest continues like that due to the fact that the link between the truth and the mythical meaning has already been cut off: "Suddenly, they realized that they have already started writing new stories, which will change their lives for forever, in their minds" (10). Thus, the second frame closes and the time of reception for the readers begin simultaneously.

The new narrators of the text reverse the quantitative traits of the characters who first laid down the operative functions of the Little Red Riding Hood ("distortion", Propp 162). The Little Red Riding Hood is brave as being the seeker and leaving the home. The father, who is not part of the classical narrative, cooks food, and the mother is an innovator, and the house is such a place that different colors emerges out of the chimney. The villain is not a person, but a disease, and it harms everyone outside the family. However, the Hunter is the reason behind this. Because the Hunter throws his hunts, which are not bought by the animal lover grandmother, into the well of the village (Scaliter 20). The Little Red Riding Hood and her family did not get sick because they drink water from the stream instead of the well. When grandmother notices the situation, immediately, questions the hunter; similar to Little Red Riding Hood questioning the wolf in the classical narrative:

-Why are your eyes so big?

- For sure, it is because of reading book and looking for the answer to what I'm curious about...

- But ...  Your ears are also too big?

- Of course they are because I have to listen carefully what is said to me.

- What about your mouth? Your mouth is almost as big as a plate? ...

- What did you think Hunter? My mouth must be big in order to announce the truth to everybody!... The epidemic came out because of you, I know it! (21-22)

At this point, the villain hunter turns into the victim hunter, and big mouth gains a metaphorical meaning. His punishment is not death, but cleansing the well and being a tailor. His being tailor is also linked to the "Smart Tailor" fairy tale by establishing an intertextual bridge. The narrative ends with a Ricoeurian manner, in which all the readers and writers come together and decide to write their own stories. "Have they not always wanted it for years? Come on, have a courage! They came together and began writing their own true stories. What they are actually doing is to rewriting the history... From then on, those written texts were no longer called as fairy tales, but stories until today"(26).



Vladimir Propp criticizes the research made before him on the fairy tale in his Morphology of the Folktale and says: "In order to investigate the origins and sources of the fairytale, it is first necessary to know what the fairy tale is" (Rifat 9). Thus, he primarily focuses on synchronous examination more than diachronic ones. After the investigation, he attempts to determine the functions in the fairytales and decides on thirty-one functions with reference to the spheres of action of seven person he identifies. Hence, the tales "are comparable in terms of their compositions and structures; and it sheds light on their similarities"(Propp 152). Certain principles must be determined in such studies. However, these general principles cannot be determined "without creating familiarities between the environment in the tale and the human environment in which it is created" (154). At this point, Who is Afraid of Little Red Riding Hood, Very Little Red Riding Hood, The Wolf Who Fell Out of a Book, and Another Little Red Riding Hood, written in the 2000s and could be considered synchronously, are close to the classical narrative from a post-truth perspective.                     
"On the other hand, the examination of the derived forms in the supernatural fairy tales depends on the reality. Many transformations are explained by the entrance of truth into the tale" (158). At this point, what is reflected in the temporality of the fairy tale is the aspect of truth of post-truth. "Real life cannot remove the general structure of the fairy tale. The different modifiers that come to the foreground in the old scheme are taken from there (159). What is transformed is the quantities of the main characters, the structure of narration and the messages to be conveyed. The character’s leaving home to answer the needs of a member of the family evolves into fulfilling the structural deficiencies of post-truth. What is lack here is the requirement. The structure is deconstructed because it is needed in the temporality of the classical narration. The narrative versions and the meaning of the text pluralize.



Grimm Masalları I. Çev. Kâmuran Şipal. İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2016.

Heapy, Teresa. Kırmızı Başlıklı Küçük Kız. Res. Sue Heap. Çev. Ceren Aral. Ankara: 1001 Çiçek Kitaplar, 2016.

Propp, Vladimir. Masalın Biçimbilimi. Çev. Mehmet ve Sema Rifat. İstanbul: Türkiye İş Bankası, 2017.

Ricoeur, Paul. Zaman ve Anlatı 4: Anlatılan (Öykülenen) Zaman. Çev. Umut Özsuzan ve Atakan Altınörs.

İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2013.

Robberecht, Thierry. Kitaptan Düşen Kurt. Res. Grégoire Mabire. İstanbul: Remzi Kitabevi, 2016.

Scaliter, Juan. Başka Bir Kırmızı Başlıklı Kız. Res. Delia Iglesias. Çev. Celil Denktaş. İstanbul: Notabene, 2017.

Şahinkanat, Sara. Kim Korkar Kırmızı Başlıklı Kız’dan? Res. Ayşe İnan Alican. İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları,


[1] These functions are called "absentation; interdiction; violation; reconnaissance; delivery; trickery; complicity; villainy; lack; mediation (the connective incident); beginning counter action; departure; the first function of the donor; the hero's reaction; provision or receipt of a magical agent; spatial transference between two kingdoms, guidance; struggle; branding, marking; victory; removal; return; pursuit, chase; rescue; unrecognized arrival; unfounded claims; difficult task; solution; recognition; exposure; transfiguration; punishment; wedding."(Rifat,  11)

[2] For the detailed version of functions of characters, see. Vladimir Propp, “The Functions of Dramatis Personae,” Morphology of the Folktale: 25-66.