Horton Hears a Who!
by Dr. Seuss
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Right of the bat in Horton Hears a Who!, Horton starts hearing voices coming from a speck of dust. He's flabbergasted at first (how could a whole town fit on that little speck?!) but soon comes to accept them for how they are. Of course, the other animals in the Jungle of Nool have a harder time accepting that there are folks out there who could live in a different place and in a different way than they do.
Also, come on. People hearing voices? Isn't there a name for that sort of thing?
In any case, we can think about this speck (and Who-ville as a whole) through the lens of both historical allegories.
- During World War II, the Japanese were considered the enemy, to the point that many Japanese-Americans ended up in internment camps. Just like the jungle animals don't consider the Whos to be people (namely because they don't think they exist), Americans treated the Japanese like second-class citizens—and then some.
- During the Cold War, the enemy—communists—couldn't really be seen since they were literally thousands of miles away. But that didn't stop Americans from freaking out about them. In fact, maybe they were even more feared because they couldn't be seen and understood.
Even without the historical lens, the tiny clover serves as an important reminder: not everything is done—or seen—the same way for everyone. And our buddy Horton definitely gets it.