In Little Red, Gilbert tells a contemporary verse version of the tale of Little Red Riding Hood.
Little Red Riding Hood is one of the original didactic stories about missing and murdered girls/women in a long history of this kind of violence against women—especially in earlier versions where “Wolf leapt upon Little Red Riding Hood and gobbled her up.” It’s also a deeply entrenched lesson in gender roles. In Little Red, Gilbert tells a contemporary verse version of this tale with all of the angst/anxieties of a different time and the dangers that now surround our children. But, she also extends that and suggests some bigger questions: what happens to children when parents are absent? What happens to an aging Red, Grandmother, Woodcutter and Wolf? What happens when “wolf decides to start a family/hopes his past will stay there/and that he can be a good father”? Gilbert suggests: “we have failed our sons/we have failed our daughters” and about wolf, that “we’ve grown so, so tired of his story.”