How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
by Dr. Seuss
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Setting
Where It All Goes Down
Sure, it ain't Truth or Consequences, but Who-ville has to be high up there on the list of weirdest town names ever. What do we know about Who-ville, really, other than the fact that it's a small town and the inhabitants love to surf the Yuletide?
The thing is, we don't know much about Who-ville, at least not from the descriptions in the book. We know that the Whos live in cozy little houses and that they store plenty of glittery Christmas decorations and delicious meals in their homes. We know that on Christmas, they come together and join hands in the streets, singing their carols as loudly as possible. We get the sense that they are loving, tight-knit and quite community minded, since we always see them in large groups celebrating together.
As for the actual physical space that is Who-ville, there are few in-depth descriptions, if any at all. In a way, Who-ville serves as an extension of the Whos' community. The Whos have proven that they do not need specific toys or treats for it to be Christmas, right? Well, in that same vein, they also don't need a specific place to be home, as long as they've got each other.
Let's dive deeper, shall we?
A great deal of the book revolves around this idea that what you cultivate within (such as the spirit of Christmas) matters a whole lot more than all of these outward details, like belongings or houses or, you know, any of that other nonsense.
Sure, the Whos are depicted in their cute little houses with snow on the rooftops and beautifully decorated trees in their living rooms. However, even when some of this outward beauty is taken away (the trees, gifts under the tree, etc.), the Whos still manage to come together and celebrate the holiday.
In a way, the sparseness of descriptions when it comes to Who-ville only serves to further the idea that the Whos are more than just a town filled with separate individuals. They're a community, and that's what counts.
When the structure of a story is drawn out on a whiteboard, the climax is often depicted as the peak of a very steep, triangular mountain. In How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the climax of the story actually happens while the main character is poised at the peak of a very steep, triangular mountain. Talk about driving the point home.
In the illustrations, Mt. Crumpit is depicted as a comically steep and snow-covered mountain with just a few trees at the base. At the very top, it ends suddenly in a cliff that drops precipitously, which is where the Grinch plans to push off all of the Whos' Christmas goodies.
The big bummer comes when we realize that this is not, in fact, a landform made of crumpets, which would be downright delicious, but we'll get over it. Especially because, in the end, it's this place that brings about a change in the Grinch that is as buttery smooth and delightful as a griddlecake.
Mt. Crumpit really is the point (no pun intended) at which the story turns. It's while he's standing at the top of this very tall mountain that the Grinch must make a decision. Is he going to throw all those nice Christmas things off the edge of the cliff, or is he going to back down from the mountain and return to the Whos their rightful belongings?
The latter, it turns out, thanks to the great acoustics Mt. Crumpit provides. The peak of Mt. Crumpit is the setting for the climax of the story, and the place where the Grinch truly comes to his senses and embraces the true notion of Christmas, as well as his neighbors the Whos.
We can imagine that as he walks down the mountain to rejoin his neighbors (and hopefully apologize profusely), an imaginary airplane in the sky is spelling out "descending action."
Oh, and by the way, Mt. Crumpit is also a real place in Canada, which we imagine is as snowy and as filled with nice people (from what we've heard) as Who-ville itself.