Dr. Seuss and his use of symbolism in Children’s Literature. KATIE ODELL ENGLISH 4950 SUMMER 2008. The Life of Theodore Geisel.
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Symbolism (n.): The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships.
One of Seuss’ 1941 cartoons that was published in PM magazine represented his views of the war. It shows a bird that represents Uncle Sam, sitting in a chair while bombs are exploding all around him. This explains in a unique visual and verbal manner how Seuss really felt about the effects of America not becoming involved in the war in Germany.
The cartoon introduces Seuss’ use of rhyme and imagery to express valid points. This is also one of the first samples of what Seuss’ post war work would be like.
Said a bird in the midst of a blitz“Up to now, they’ve scored very few hitz,so I’ll sit on my cannyOld Star Spangled Fanny…”And on it he sitz and he sitz.-Dr. Seuss
Utilizing inspiration from the war and the things going on in the world, Geisel was able to create countless children’s books that continue to be used today across the world to educate children not only on basic English concepts, but also on basic morals. During the early years of Geisel writing children’s books, the world was experiencing Hitler’s dictatorship over Germany. Several anti-Semitic laws were passed and the Jewish were excluded from all political and economic life. This directly opposes Geisel’s wishes to “urge the central importance of the individual,” as stated by Wolosky (2000).
Fascism (n.): a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism (dictionary.com, 2008)
And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.And the turtles, of course... all the turtles are freeAs turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.
- Dr. Seuss
Environmentalism (n.): Advocacy for or work toward protecting the natural environment from destruction or pollution (dictionary.com, 2008)
"SO...Catch!" calls the Once-ler.He lets something fall."It's a Truffula Seed.It's the last one of all!You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.Then the Loraxand all of his friendsmay come back.“
“Most every child learning to read has problems, and I am just saying to them that reading is fun” (New York Times, 1968, cited in Commire, 1982, p. 116).
commercialism (n.): inappropriate or excessive emphasis on profit, success, or immediate results (dictionary.com, 2008)
The Grinch hated Christmas! The Whole Christmas season!Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.But I think that the most likely reason of allMay have been that his heart was two sizes too small. - Dr. Seuss
Many of Seuss’ experiences as a child in Springfield are reflected in his work. For example…
Bunzel, R. (1959). Wacky World of Dr. Seuss. Life. 46, p. 113.
Commercialism. (n.) In Dictionary.com. Retrieved July 13, 2008, from www.dictionary.com.
Commire, A. (Ed.). (1982). Something about the author. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company. p. 16.
Cott, Jonathan. Pipers at the Gates of Dawn: The Wisdom of Children's Literature. New York: Random House, 1983.
Environmentalism. (n.) In Dictionary.com. Retrieved July 13, 2008, from www.dictionary.com.
Fascism. (n.) In Dictionary.com. Retrieved July 13, 2008, from www.dictionary.com.
Kennedy, Elizabeth (2008). Hooray for Dr. Seuss! Retrieved on July 15, 2008, from http://childrensbooks.about.com/cs/authorsillustrato/a/drseuss.htm
Krull, Kathleen (2004). The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Grew up to become Dr. Seuss.
Moje, E.B., & Woan-Ru, S. (1992). Oh, the places you’ve taken us: RT’s tribute to Dr. Seuss. The Reading Teacher, 45, 670-676.
Nel, Philip (2001). Said a bird in the midst of a blitz…”: How World War II created Dr. Seuss. Mosaic: a Journal for the Interdisciplinary Studyof Literature, 34., p. 65.
Research Library Core (1994). Endangered species - The Lorax by Dr. Seuss / Journey of the.
The Reading Teacher, 47, 588.
The Springfield Museums (2004). All About Dr. Seuss. Retrieved July 16, 2008, from http://www.catinthehat.org/history.htm
Symbolism. (n.) In Dictionary.com. Retrieved July 13, 2008, from www.dictionary.com.
West, Angela (2005). Horton the Elephant is a Criminal: Using Dr. Seuss to Teach Social Process, Conflict, and Labeling Theory. Retrieved July 15, 2008, from http://proquest.umi.com.jproxy.lib.ecu.edu/pqdweb?index=4&sid=3&srchmode=1&vinst=PROD&fmt=3&startpage=-1&vname=PQD&did=991646691&scaling= FULL&pmid=36162&vtype= PQD&fileinfoindex=%2Fshare2%2Fpqimage%2Firs4%2F20080721201635281%2F26597%2Fout.pdf&rqt=309&TS=1216685796&clientId=15121
Wolosky, Shira (2000). Democracy in America: By Dr. Seuss. Southwest Review, 85, 178.