Speculation time! Mrs Wiggins’s anti-tree attitude and tree rumours
Although she does flip her attitude once she sees the seed growing, at the start, it’s strange. Grammy Norma seems very pro-tree, so how can her daughter be anti-tree?
The way Mrs Wiggins talks about real trees,
it’s likely she has never seen one for herself (or doesn’t remember any), meaning her childhood years or maybe her entire life was spent in Thneedville. (And since we saw O’Hare during the building of Thneedville, that would put him as older than Mrs Wiggins). Growing up in Thneedville means she could’ve gone to O’Hare Elementary.
As others have pointed out, the O’Hare business isn’t new.
So it’s possible for one of the older O’Hare family members to be the ones who finished building Thneedville, plastering their name and ideologies all over the place, including the school.
So she might’ve learnt in school that plastic trees are far superior to real trees, but what about Grammy? Surely Grammy could’ve told her daughter all about how wonderful trees are and the whole Once-ler business. Even Audrey knows that trees are wonderful, (somehow. I wish we knew more about Audrey).
But I think Mrs Wiggins does know wonderful trees are. While everyone else in town tooks some convincing to agree to have the tree and didn’t love it on sight, Mrs Wiggins flipped her attitude the moment she saw the tree right in front of her. Grammy could’ve been telling her how wonderful trees are all along, but she never believed her until she saw the tree with her own eyes.
Yet, if Grammy Norma told her all about how wonderful trees were and knows that “if you want one, you need to find [The Once-ler]”, why is the Once-ler just a “magical fable” to Mrs Wiggins? Why hasn’t Mrs Wiggins gone out to get one for herself? I’m guessing that during Mrs Wiggin’s childhood, the Once-ler rumour was more popular because the company’s fall was in more recent memory. However, you know how O’Hare discourages and threatens Ted for being interested in trees and tries to keep him in town? The O’Hares know too that listening to the Once-ler will mean you receive a seed.
If more people knew about the Once-ler back then, a larger number of people would try to find him, but a large number of people will also encounter threats from O’Hare and desist. So while growing up, Mrs Wiggins would’ve seen many of her peers go “HOO YEAH, GONNA SEE THE ONCE-LER!”, only to see them the next day say “Once-ler? Nah, I’m staying in town”, and so concluded that the Once-ler is a fake. And for those who did manage to get seeds, the O’Hares would’ve probably found and destroyed them before they could grow, and maybe whoever had the seed would be forced to say that it wasn’t real, just a painted rock or something like that.
However, how did Grammy know that talking to the Once-ler will actually give you a seed and wasn’t just a rumour? To confirm it wasn’t false and acquiring some strangely specific items and heading out of town would actually give you a seed, either Grammy herself or someone close to her must’ve succeeded in getting a seed.
Would the Once-ler even tell his story to someone of Grammy’s age? He could just look out of the window and say “Really? You’re as old as me. You know what happened to the trees. Nobody, not even you, stopped me and I chopped everything down. You want to heckle me now about trees or something? Go away.” And then spring his traps.
However, there’s more chance he would tell his story to someone who’s younger and didn’t witness it all.
The rumour would’ve started a few years after his company fell, because by then, there would actually be a demand for people to go hear the Once-lers story if the people around them didn’t know what happened to the trees or wouldn’t tell.
Going even further into speculation territory, I think that someone close to Grammy that succeeded would be one of Audrey’s parents. Grammy could confirm that the rumour is true because her close friendship with them means (maybe that’s why Grammy and Audrey live so close to each other?) she could see what’s going on their life. And the way Audrey talks
“Used to grow around here”, “softer than silk”, “smelled like butterfly milk”. Along with the accurate depiction of the trees in her mural and recounting specific details, I think Audrey knows what happened, her parent told her stuff, and long ago, Norma told her parent or one of Audrey’s grandparents told her what trees looked like. However, Audrey isn’t going out to get the seed because her parent knows O’Hare is a threatening guy and wants to keep her safe, and Norma is respecting that decision by not telling her about how to find the Once-ler.
(Though if going along the Norma knows Audrey’s parent thing, that would have to make Norma’s lines of “Is that the girl you’re talking about, she’s even prettier than-” just for teasing Ted, because she would have to be aware of Audrey’s existence. And maybe before Mrs Wiggins could see how Audrey’s parents got a seed, they lost it, making Mrs Wiggins think that both her mom and Audrey’s parent are both in on playing a joke about the Once-ler really existing on her, and so making her still not believe the rumour.)
But, while Norma wouldn’t meddle with other people’s kids, she would meddle with her own grandson just like she meddles with her own daughter (asking her to go get her teeth, taking too long at the game), someone who isn’t influenced by seeing people around him fail at seeing the Once-ler. He’s interested in trees, Audrey’s interested too, but she can’t go get one. If Ted goes to get a tree, kill two birds with one stone, make two kids happy with one seed!
"Does wearing a top hat make you more evil, or are you just stealing Once-ler's fashion sense?"
“Nooo. But my name IS Black Hat. It would be silly to not wear a hat that fits my fashion. It’s my trademark thing. And I don’t always where my top hat, sometimes I wear other hats,” he replied, removing his top hat, revealing a bowlers hat. “I have no idea who the Once-ler is anyways.”