The Cat in the Hat
by Dr. Seuss
The boy in The Cat in the Hat is one of the most famous unnamed narrators in literary history. He's right up there with Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and a number of creepy Edgar Allan Poe narrators. His nameless-ness probably isn't meant to be taken all that seriously, though. Just another little mystery in the enigmatic Cat in the Hat sea.
In our humble opinion, this kid is a wonderful guide through Seussville. His story is so convincing and well-paced, we don't even get a chance to disbelieve it. Sure, it could all be an elaborate fantasy spun from a mess-making spree he and Sally got involved in. (Things One and Two are the key to that theory, so be sure to check out their "Character Analysis.") But be honest—did that really cross your mind while you were reading?
Coming-of-Age, Cat Style
Sometimes we do get what we wish for. The boy is asking for change, experience, new knowledge—and just some good, solid amusement. His plea to the universe? "How I wish/ We had something to do!" (7-8).
Almost instantly, his wish comes true: the Cat appears. The boy learns some very practical lessons, such as how to defend one's home and sister against invaders, how to clean up a big mess, and how to force people to leave when the party is over.
The change seems to be deeper than that, though. The Cat has opened his eyes to life's grand possibilities, to the power of improvisation. He learns that seemingly ordinary items and settings can be transformed into whatever you can imagine. All the while, his sense of responsibility for his home and family has increased, as has his confidence for mounting a successful defense.
As the story closes, the boy is already facing a new challenge: what to tell his mother about the day. In "What's Up With the Ending?" we chat a bit about how this becomes a question for all readers: "What would YOU do/ If your mother asked YOU?" (305-306). This is classic Seuss, always encouraging youngsters to come their own conclusions about what they've read. Very sneaky, Seuss. And much appreciated.