Literature is rife with pigs as symbols, from the Three Little Pigs
to Porky, from the pigs in Orwells Animal Farm to Hollywoods
recent creation, Babe. These characters have ranged from the crafty
to the naive, from the big-hearted to the stupid who noisily eat garbage
and roll about happily in mud.
Wolves have fared poorly; with the exception of the 1983 movie Never
Cry Wolf, the animal has gotten a bad rap through the ages in
literature and in the press. The image of the she-wolf, the sheep
thief, the pig eater, the cousin of the coyote, the snarling timber
wolf gracing the jersey of an NBA teamall convey slyness, recklessness,
self-fulfillment, and greed.
The Three Little Pigs, the classic story of a workers revolt
against the tyranny of a bullying capitalist wolf, ends with the eating
of the tyrant by the third pig. While his two brothers are naive,
slothful proletariats, the third brothers actions suggest the
best instincts of the workers vanguard: wise, hard-laboring,
serious, and ready for action. The wolf, we can be assured, preys
on the weak. His actions are self-motivated; he sees the community
as his to exploit, and for a time, we can assume he has had his way.
Others cower at the sound of his breath. We know in time he is full
of hot air; the cleverness of the third pig shows that wisdom conquers
Interestingly, the third pig in the end devours the wolf. The reform
mindedand naivewould want us to believe that the bad wolf
could be cured of his evil ways. But we know better. Those who use
evil means to conquer evil become that which they hate. In this case,
we assume that the pig will become the next despot, an overeating
avaricious showman, showing, in the classic Maoist sense, that revolution
History is rife with examples of sad, lonely tyrants unable to come
to grips with self, community, and society. Consider how the world
would have been spared pain if Genghis Kahn, if Hitler, if Saddam
Hussein had only found a competent psychologist willing to help them
work through the pain of their childhoods. Biographers have uncovered
miserable lives of countless despots through the ages. Usually male,
these sad individuals cried out for their inner selves to be uncovered.
What motivates the tyrant?
In the Three Little Pigs, we cannot be sure of the wolfs past.
Let us, for sake of argument, assume at best he was an outcast among
the litter, forced away by his brothers and mother to a miserable,
needy existence. Gone from the pack, he sought food in any way he
could; unloved, in search of his female archetype (Jung, 1960), he
grew up with neither respect for others or himself, nor trust. At
worst, he learned from his parents the way of the wolf: bounty hunters,
snarling, drooling and selfish, like landed crows, caring not a lick
for what he eats: today a sheep, tomorrow a pig. Amidst a pack, still
a loner, feeding the hunger of his psyche with the blood of his prey.
Each kill leaves him less satisfied, but unable to articulate his
inner needs, he continues to kill and maim, seeking comfort in the
terror he causes, for no one challenges his weaknessthe weakness
not of his physical strength, but his inner self.
In time, his bullying feeds upon itself, almost literally. His success
with Pig 1 assures himself that he is powerful. Do we know that he
is still hungry upon consuming the first pig? His physical appetite
is sated. But what of his psychic needs? Bursting with self-hatred
and loneliness, he is hungrier for moremore power. He finds
the second pig, uses the same ruse to consume him, and his gluttony
By now he cannot stop himself. Psychopathic, he stops at nothing to
consume the third pig. Probably aware that he is being outsmarted,
he continues on his quest. Like a suicidal kidnapper, he knows of
his ultimate fate, and he does nothing to let it stop. It as if he
is shouting to the third pig, Pleasedefeat me and put
me out of my misery. Sadly, the third pig is eager to comply
with the death wish.
and Ek (2000)
Literature, like life itself, is rife with examples of satanic tyrants
wreaking havoc on God-fearing peoples. The forces of evil in childrens
literature are many and infamous: the billy-goats gruff, Jacks
giant, Red Ridings Hood disguised wolf, not to mention such
movies as Star Wars, The Blob, and Cinderella. All share, in
one form or another, a God-fearing sojourners confrontation
with Evil himself, and whether through wit, strength of muscle, or
strength of will, a victory over the cruel forces of Satan.
Perhaps no tale better exemplifies this than The Three Little Pigs.
A brute sociopathic force, the wolf is Evil Incarnate, uncivilized,
a greedy, lying glutton who consumes the naive, kindhearted pig brothers
without mercy. How else to explain his maliciousness? We do not know
how hungry he is when he confronts the first pig; we know only that
he is both big and bad, reputations he has
not earned from weekly church attendance. As for the pigs, they are
naive and goodhearted; leaving the protective embrace of their mother,
two havent a clue how to build a house. They are, in some literal
sense, Gods innocents, wishing no harm upon anyone, seeking
only the barest of protection from the elements.
The rest we know only too well: Evil knocks on the pigs doors.
Defenseless against the power of Satan, the first two pigs are consumed
by it when the walls come tumbling down. The righteous third pig,
with brains and God at his side, outfoxes the evil one, and in a death
match, ends up cooking and consuming the wolf, ridding the world once
and for all of Satan.
Comparison of Cunningness Among Wolves and Pigs
Hokum, B. Goniff, and C. Crook (1997)
The cunningness of pigs and wolves was compared to determine the
extent to which each animal is capable of outfoxing the other. Scores
on three instruments, the Limbaugh Hot Air Test (LHAT), the Ventura
Wool-Over-Eyes Scale (VWOES), and the Cross-Mammal Cunningness Probe
(CMCP), were compared. Results indicated that pigs are, by nature
and possibly by influence of environment, craftier than wolves, lending
credence to those who argue that the story of the three pigs is not
Background. That pigs, wolves, and foxes are among the craftiest
of mammals is legendary, at least in the popular literature (cf.,
e.g., Fox and the Hound, Three Little Pigs, Red Riding Hood, Animal
Farm). Their reputations range from harmful (Robertson, 1993)
to harmless (Warner, Warner, & Warner, 1941). In direct confrontation,
as Amdur (1995) has noted, the literature often suggests that though
stronger, wolves invariably end up victimized by their own greed.
Pigs, though unruly, greedy beasts themselves (as Orwell so well depicted
them) are still seen as victims and underdogs, upholding the American
literary tradition that pits mice as victim of cats, though ultimate
victors. As Gowdy (1972) argued, Americans contain a soft-spot in
their hearts for incessant losers in the animal world, such as cubs
and gophersand embrace sports teams of the same ilk.
This study compared the cunningness of wolves and pigs, in order to
add to the growing body of literature on dominance in the animal world.
Method. Sixty pigs and 60 wolves of varying ethnicities were
recruited for the study. Wolves were given sheep carcasses, and pigs
sweet corn as incentives for participating. All participants were
surveyed using three instruments: the Limbaugh Hot Air Test (LHAT)
a test of physical endurance; the Ventura Wool-Over Eyes Scale (VWOES),
which measures guile and deception; and the Cross-Mammal Cunningness
Probe (CMCP), a measure of cunningness, defined here as the ability
to deceive, and of greed. (See Appendix A with regard to validity
Results. As was hypothesized, wolves scored higher on the LHAT,
lending credence to past research (Disney, 1941) that shows in terms
of physical strength alone and no known contravening variables, wolves
have the ability to dominate pigs. Scores on the VWOES and CMCP, however,
showed pigs to consistently rate higher in cunningness (p>.5)
and guile. There was no significant difference between the two species
in measures of greed and hunger. Males were found to be slightly lazier
and self-serving, while females were found, surprisingly (cf., Dibble,
1958), to be less catty.
Discussion. Because popular literature rarely pits mammals
at each other in tests of physical strength alone, this study was
undertaken to explore whether pigs or wolves are more cunning. Results
indicated that pigs are more cunning and deceptive than wolves, who
were indeed found to have greater physical strength.
Given these findings, and all else being equal, the results suggest
that a particularly clever pig could outfox a wolf. Future research
should examine whether a wolf has sufficient hot air to blow down
a brick house; Limbaughs own work suggested that certain humans,
himself included, could, but that was not the focus of this study
and should be explored.
Attemps at Answering the Assigned Questions