Dr. Seuss and Politics
Theodore Geisel aka Dr. Seuss was a political cartoonist. We all know Dr. Seuss for his children books, but I enjoy reading his stories because they are political allegories. His stories cover topics like discrimination, the rise and fall of Hitler, the Cold War and more. The following are explanations of some his stories and a well known nursery rhyme.
This is a story about Sneetches that live on the Beaches. Some Sneetches have stars on their bellies and some do not have stars. They are small stars and you would think they would not matter.
The stars represent the yellow stars that the Third Reich made the Jewish people wear during WWII. This story is about discrimination or more precisely anti-Semitism.
The star-belly Sneetches liked to brag. The star-belly Sneetches would not play, share food or share warmth with plain-belly Sneetches. Then Sylvester McMonkey McBean shows up. He calls himself the Fix-it-Up Chappie.
Sylvester McMonkey McBean is said to represent Capitalism. Although it was Hitler that had the answers to Germany’s social economic issues from 1931 to 1945 and these answers were his machine to power.
Mr. McBean put together a very peculiar machine. A machine that would put stars on the bellies of the Sneetches without stars for $3.00 each. Now they all looked alike, oh, but this just would not do. Mr. McBean to the rescue again with a wink. His machine becomes a star-off machine for the price of $10.00 each.
So now the fad is to be a Sneetches without a star. Well, things became quite a mess. The Sneetches kept running through the machine paying each time, stars on, stars off, that is until their money was all spent. Mr. McBean laughing as he drives away saying, “They never will learn. No, You can’t teach a Sneetch.”
Hitler social economic resolutions padded his pockets and gave him the power he needed to become a dictator.
The Sneetches got really quite smart that day. All the Sneetches forgot about their stars. Did we really get smart that day?
What was I Scared of?
A furless bear, says “I have never been afraid of any thing. Not very.” Then he sees some empty pale green pants that moved and no one is inside them. Of course, he is not scared, he just runs away. He encounters the pants again when they race around the corner, almost knock him down. Later the bear is fishing and those empty green pants came rowing toward him. He screams and admits he is now frightened.
The furless bear goes hunting for snide. He reaches inside a snide and touches someone. To his surprise it is the pale green pants. They both scream and the pale green pants begin to whimper and cry. That is when the furless bear realizes that he is just as strange to the pants as they were to him.
Stacked on Mack
Yertle the Turtle
Yertle the Turtle is said to represent the rise and fall of Hitler. It represents the rise and fall of many of empire and their rulers; Napoleon Bonaparte, Eric the Red, Genghis Khan and William the Conqueror just to name a few.
Yertle is the king and he decides his kingdom is too small. He says, “I’m ruler of all that I see.” He decides he does not see enough. He orders nine turtles to his stone and he begins building his throne on the backs of those nine turtles. Of course, he is not satisfied. He gets more, more and more turtles all on the back of Mack, the bottom turtle. Then Mack does a plain little thing, he burps and the kingdom is destroyed.
The Butter Battle Book
The Butter Battle Book
This story is about the Cold War. A war between the United States and the Soviet Union which continued until the agreement was made to dismantle the atomic bombs.
The characters in the book are the Yooks and the Zooks. The Yooks eat their bread with the butter side up. The Zooks eat their bread with the butter side down. They built a wall that keeps the two sides from intermixing. And a young Yook’s Grandfather has made it his goal to watch the Zooks. He created the Zook-Watching Border Patrol and it is time for the young Yook to start patrolling. The Zooks are not trusted because they put their butter side down. The Yooks and the Zooks keep coming up with better ways to protect the wall. They vote on it, they have a strategy department, and use their funds to keep inventing new ways to defend the wall. In the end there is a stand off with two Grandfather’s one Yook and one Zook holding a Big-Boy Bommeroo.
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
Mary, Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.
This short nursery rhyme is a political allegory. There are countries where talking about the ruler could get your head cut off. So they invented the nursery rhyme. This nursery rhyme is quite a bloody one. It is about Mary Tutor or Bloody Mary. The gardens are graveyards, the silver bells and cockle shells are instruments of torture. The “maids all in a row” are symbolic of guillotines.
Read Between the Lines
When reading a Dr. Seuss book or even a nursery rhyme you should “read between the lines.” For you may find an even greater story a piece of history.