The Cat in the Hat
by Dr. Seuss
What’s Up With the Ending?
The Cat in the Hat seems like the epitome of happily ever after: the house is restored to order, the kids learn a thing or two about fun, and Mom comes home safe and sound. Of course, since this is Dr. Seuss, it's not quite that simple.
Maybe the kids have solved their thumb-twiddling issue, but now they are faced with another problem: what to tell their mother when she comes home. Or, as Seuss scholar Philip Nel puts it,
Should the children describe an actual experience that their mother will think they imagined, or an imagined experience that she will accept as actual? In other words, should they lie or tell the truth? (Source, 55.)
In the final lines of the story, the boy reaches out to the audience—yep, you—for advice:
Should we tell her about it?
Now, what SHOULD we do?
What would YOU do
If your mother asked you? (302-306)
There Seuss goes again, getting his readers involved.
Of course, there are the curmudgeonly readers who complain that the Cat doesn't get in trouble for getting rowdy and making a mess. Those resisters probably had visions of The Cat in the Hat inciting anarchy and chaos at school. Ah—in Dr. Seuss's dreams.
Want to see things get even crazier? (We're talking cake in the bathtub crazy.) Check out the sequel, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.