Hunches in Bunches
by Dr. Seuss
Hunches in Bunches Tone
Take a story’s temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Have you ever been unable to make up your mind about something? No matter how many thoughts pump through your brain cells, you just can't reach a coherent decision or the words necessary to explain those thoughts? Well, the entire tone of Hunches in Bunches is trying to hit on that very feeling, and it has to do so in words no less. How does it manage this seemingly impossible task?
For starters, the tone relies on several literary tricks. Made-up phrases like "ga-flupped" and "murky-mooshy" provide a sense of a mind not quite finding the word it's searching for. The rhythm provided by the repetition gives us a sense of a mind circling round and round an idea without being able to settle on it. For example:
If you won't, you are a wonter!
Do you understand? Or don't you?
If you don't, you are a donter.
You're a canter if you can't. (14.7-10)
See how each line uses similar words and phrases multiple times, like the narrator is picking up ideas and putting them down only to pick them up again? That's the cranial confusion we're talking about when we talk about this poem's tone.