Fairy Tale Scrapbook
"The Werewolf" by Angela Carter

As a few posts have mentioned, I am reading Angela Carter’s short story collection The Bloody Chamber for a class. Most all of the stories are retellings of fairy tales, such as Bluebeard, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast. Nearing the end of the collection is a story called The Werewolf. 

The story describes a place far north where the weather is cold and the people have cold hearts. They believe in the Devil and his witches and are quick to stone anyone thought to be a witch.

A young girl is sent to her grandmother by her mother, who gives her the basket and also a knife. “You know how to use it.” 

A wolf comes up upon Red and she brandishes the knife, managing to cut off the paw of the wolf as it attacks her. The animal flees and Red puts the paw in her basket.

She reaches grandmothers house and grandmother is sicker than ever. She has a high fever and further investigation shows that her right hand has been cut off. The paw in the basket rolls onto the floor and it is now a hand with a wart on it.

In her terror, Red screams, drawing the neighbors inside the house. They see grandmother, her chopped off hand, and her wart and drag her to the forest where she is stoned to death. Red lives prosperously in her grandmother’s house. The end.

I find this version of the story really interesting because it has the usual elements, but with a twist. The wolf doesn’t become the grandmother, the grandmother becomes the wolf and attacks her own grandchild. The grandmother has been sick, likely because she’s been turned into a werewolf and can’t help herself. Although, it seems that she might have already been a witch, it’s hard to tell which came first. I thought it was an interesting version of the tale I hadn’t heard before. 

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