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Hunches in Bunches

Hunches in Bunches


by Dr. Seuss

Hunches in Bunches Meaning

What is this book really about?

Choices, choices, choices.

We are presented with choices every day, and no matter how many we make, there will always be more waiting to take their place. Every now and then though, there's a choice so difficult, so painful, and so gut-wrenchingly irresolvable that it drives you bonkers. Seuss-style bonkers, that is.

If you listen to many people, then you'd assume all these choices come with a right answer and a wrong one—or what's known as a binary opposition if you'll pardon our academia. You know the drill: good guys/bad guys, conservative/liberal, New York Yankees/Boston Red Socks, soup/salad. One is the right choice, one is the wrong—and nary a middle ground shall there be.


Hunches in Bunches is all about the crazy variety found in the middle ground of choice, referred to as liminality in those academic circles. See, the boy's story is all about a desire to settle on a choice. Problem is that, like many choices in our lives, no simple wrong and right answer exists for him to latch onto. As the boys says on this lack of binary opposition:

Oh, you get so many hunches
that you don't know ever quite
if the right hunch is a wrong hunch!
Then the wrong hunch might be right!

He could want to play video games or do his homework or go to the bathroom or just faff about all day. Since there is no known correct answer, our narrating lad can't land on a decision.

Seuss's poem shows us that these choices don't come from a place of binary oppositions but rather from a place of liminality. You might know it as the human mind. The Hunches often contradict each other or, as is the case with the Spookish Hunch, contradict themselves.

But it's not all bad news. If there isn't a right or wrong choice, and choices really are all about the variety of the middle ground, then maybe we shouldn't waste our time trying to separate the right choice out of all the wrong ones. Maybe it's only about making up your mind.

When the boy finally "decide[s] what to do," he frees himself from the fidgets (31.4). In other words, his happiness wasn't about discovering the right decision; it was about making the decision in the first place. The feast of six hot dogs wasn't the right decision because it was the correct one; it was the correct decision because it was the decision he made. It's a grief saving lesson we should all learn from—or, as may be the case, relearn from time to time.

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