On the occasion of Eeyore's (perhaps apocryphal) birthday, Chris Cox profiles A.A. Milne's gloomy donkey:

But the key thing that makes Eeyore a great character is that essential literary ingredient: conflict. Eeyore is profoundly conflicted. He craves love – indeed, he's always lamenting his outsider status – but he struggles to give and receive it. When it's offered to him, he puts out his hoof and waves it away. There are many occasions when Pooh and Piglet, who love Eeyore unconditionally, pay him a visit only to be greeted with a barrage of sarcasm. Nowhere is this more poignantly displayed than the scene in The House at Pooh Corner where Piglet realises that Eeyore has never had a bunch of violets picked for him. When he finds Eeyore to deliver the bunch, however, he gets shooed away. "Tomorrow," says Eeyore. "Or the next day."

Eeyore being a donkey, I naturally didn't consider him in my assessment of archetypal English and American bears. I link this here as a supplement for those fictional animal scholars who want a better sense of Winnie-the-Pooh's sociohistorical context. Eeyore enthusiasts might also be interested to know that there's an annual birthday celebration for the poor beast in Austin, on the last Saturday of April. The last time I was there, I turned a small child's unraveled balloon sword from a balloon back into a sword without bursting it (she said smugly).

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