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The True Meanings Behind Dr Seuss Stories

Updated on August 26, 2012
Dr Seuss
Dr Seuss | Source

He is one of the world's most beloved children's authors, and also one of the most successful. Dr Seuss, or by his real name, Theodor Seuss Geisel, has been capturing imaginations with his work since 1937 when he published his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. His stories are often characterized by his patented sense of whimsy and absurdity that leave many people wondering, "However did he think of that?" As it turns out, many classic Seuss books are fueled by much more complex ideas than a cat wearing a hat. Take a look at the real message behind some of your favourite childhood books.

Check out Part 1 of the original cartoon for "The Lorax"

The Lorax

This one is pretty obvious. In this story, we meet "The Once-ler," a character who turned the world from a beautiful place full of life into a desolate wasteland. It is not hard to pick up on the environmental aspects of this book. We learn about the importance of trees and protecting natural wildlife early on in the book. The Lorax is also Seuss's way of speaking out against Capitalism. The good doctor himself even considered the story "antipollution and anti greed"

Watch the original cartoon for "The Sneetches"

The Sneetches

This one is a lesser-known story of Dr Seuss from the book The Sneetches and Other Stories (1961). It revolves around two groups of creatures called "Sneetches." One group has stars on their bellies, while the others do not. The star-bellied Sneetches are treated to privileged lives while the plain Sneetches are discriminated against. Just from that description, it's plain to see that the underlying message is about racism. On top of that, it explores the idea that some people try to profit off other people's misfortune or ignorance, using his character of Sylvester as an example.

Yertle the Turtle

Yertle the Turtle is a quirky and cute book about a Turtle who is King of his pond. As the story goes on, his need to expand his kingdom grows and grows until he is literally standing on top of nearly all of his turtle citizens. The themes revolve around political domination, human rights, and the true power that people have over political leaders. This story is actually based on one of the Earth's most infamous men, Adolf Hitler. The story was so powerful that The Red Hot Chili Peppers even wrote a song based on it, entitled "Yertle the Turtle."

Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!

Marvin K. Mooney is a little boy who just refuses to go to bed, no matter how he's told. It's a common rumor that this story is about the American ex-president Richard Nixon, although it was never explicitly admitted by Seuss. However, when asked if he had ever written a political book, he allegedly held up a copy of the book, crossed out the "Marvin K. Mooney" part and wrote in "Richard Nixon."

Want to hear the story for yourself?

The Butter Battle Book

Here's a book that you've probably never heard of. It tell the story of two races, the Yooks and the Zooks. The two are seprated by a giant wall because, of all things, they can't agree on which side you should butter your bread. The feud escalates when one side builds a slingshot to fight the other side, and eventually the whole book is a back and forth battle of trumping each other's weapons. This book is about the Cold War, and was actually banned in some countries in the 80s! Despite this, it was named as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.


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    • manicpanicplease profile imageAUTHOR

      L Brander 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for the comment! I was also pretty surprised when I learned about his more political books. It's just another reason to say that you're never too old for a picture book.

    • hecate-horus profile image


      6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      I knew Dr. Seuss had a message behind his stories, but I was unaware of the Butter Battle and "Marvin K Mooney" . Dr. Seuss was a pretty clever and thoughtful man. Interesting and voted up!

    • manicpanicplease profile imageAUTHOR

      L Brander 

      6 years ago from Canada

      I'm so glad that you enjoyed my Hub! Dr Seuss has always been a favourite of mine because his stories were so quirky and interesting, turns out that he himself is too. Thanks for the comment!

    • Lee Tea profile image

      Lee Tea 

      6 years ago from Erie, PA

      Awesome Hub!! I was hooked from the title. My 5 year old came to me yesterday to explain the Butter Battle, complete with bread-buttering hand gestures. She couldn't believe they were fighting over that! Hooray for Dr. Seuss, and thanks for this Hub.


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