One of the greatest sins, historically, has been failure of hospitality. No surprise, of course, that it’s one of Donald Duck’s sins as well. He is not a duck of a generous nature. He is cruel, selfish, and petty, and that results in many failings. Small wonder that failing in hospitality would be one of those; after all, selfishness. In my personal opinion, trick-or-treating is obviously connected to ancient rules about hospitality, and it’s a place Donald would inevitably fail. Especially if his nephews are involved; he has no inclination to treating his nephews with generosity at the best of times, and Gods forbid he do so on someone else’s timetable.
It is Halloween, of course. Huey, Dewey, and Louie are trick-or-treating, dressed as a witch, a ghost, and a devil. (Which is which? Who, in that era, knew or cared?) Experience having not proved enough of a teacher, they stop at their Unca Donald’s. He does not give them treats. He in fact plays tricks on them, being that sort. The boys meet up with a witch (June Foray), and she decided to help them get even.
June Foray voiced witches named Hazel for two cartoon studios. This one is surprisingly kindly for a pop culture witch; yeah, she goes after Donald, but Donald deserves it. After all, she’s not out for her own interests. She wants the boys to get the treats that are part of the contract of the night. If Donald didn’t want to give out treats, he should’ve turned off his lights; everyone knows that. Instead, what he wanted to do was be cruel to children—which for Donald knows no season—and refuse hospitality.
There are no other children out that night—well, it’s the economy of cartoon art. The six characters are the four ducks, the witch, and the broom Beelzebub. But although I’ve always wondered at the adults in Charlie Brown’s neighbourhood who think it’s funny to give him, and only him, a rock in his treat bag, it seems unlikely that Donald is treating the other kids around them any better than he treats his nephews. I would imagine there are a lot of people living around Donald who’d love to be in on the revenge of that night.
Halloween has ancient roots. And, sure, I may be making too much of them here, by talking about things like the ancient tradition of hospitality. However, let’s be honest. It makes as much sense as any other set-up you could suggest for why the witch is so determined to get revenge on Donald. She’s enforcing the proper order of things. She’s enforcing the Halloween contract. Clearly, Walt understood the rules.