Horton Hatches the Egg Setting
Where It All Goes Down
A Little Over Fifty-One Weeks in Seussville
Seussville is located exactly halfway between the real world and the inside of Dr. Seuss's brain. We are exposed to different parts of Seussville in every book. In Horton Hatches the Egg, it's quite cosmopolitan. But let's start at the beginning.
Horton and his egg start off in the jungle, but we don't get to explore much because Horton is stuck in one place: in a nest on top of a tree. That said, we do fill up on empathy in this section, reading and seeing such visceral images as the Hortonsicle:
And then came the Winter… the snow and the sleet!
And icicles hung
From his trunk and his feet.
But Horton kept sitting, and said with a sneeze,
"I'll stay on this egg and I won't let it freeze. (63-67)
Brrr. Those are some mighty cold words.
Other than the seasons, we also get to learn about the other critters that live in the jungle. No elephant is an island, after all. This expanded view of the jungle only emphasizes Horton's isolation and shows us that, well, it's a jungle out there.
Up out of the jungle! Up into the sky!
Up over the mountains ten thousand feet high!
Then down, down the mountains (133-135)
The mountain scene might be brief, but it's one of our biggest clues that we are, in fact, in Seussville. Here, three very puny hunters can push and pull a one-ton elephant (in a tree in a cart) up and down a ten-thousand-foot high mountain. Wow. We guess no one told them they could have taken the trolley.
The U.S. of A.
Is it an accident that Seuss chooses New York as Horton's first U.S. destination? We think not. The illustrations remind us of Ellis Island,which in 1940 would have been the symbol of American immigration. It brings to mind issues of forced migration and even American slavery. Blah.
After New York, Horton goes all around the U.S. in the circus:
They took him to Boston, to Kalamazoo,
Chicago, Weehawken and Washington, too;
To Dayton, Ohio; St. Paul, Minnesota;
To Wichita, Kansas; to Drake, North Dakota. (161-164)
And the people of America prove to be cruel, no matter what part of the country they're from. But you know what? Horton—one tiny, little, um, enormous elephant—changes all that.