by Dr. Seuss
Bossy McLorax (full disclosure: that's not his real name) is the Once-ler's arch-nemesis. Is he cute? Sure, in a Captain Caveman, super-mustache guy kind of way. He's also wheezy (from inhaling sawdust and from the ever-worsening environment), sneezy, and maybe even a little dopey. Like the Once-ler, the Lorax ultimately fails. Or does he? Since the Once-ler actually does take the Lorax's words to heart and tries to put them into action, maybe there is hope for the natural world after all.
If you check out our section on "Tone," you'll find out that Dr. Seuss wanted to avoid being "preachy." (Well, you just found out anyway, but there's much more over there!)
How does Seuss depreachify himself? By making the Lorax extremely preachy. Stick with us, we'll explain. The Lorax is seen orating from a tree stump, the ultimate preachy thing to do. And he doesn't even seem to care about himself. His whole raison d'etre is sticking up for the powerless and helping them meet their needs. Blah blah blah. (Just kidding, we love us some do-gooders.)
Portraying the story's hero in this way helps provide balance and opens it up to multiple interpretations. Kids can easily recognize the honor the Lorax carries in every fiber of his fuzzy, orange body. Most of them will even agree with him, in spite of his yelling and his "sharpish and bossy" (94) tone. At the same time, they might realize that, like the Once-ler, the Lorax isn't perfect. For example, dissing the Once-ler's Thneed is not a good way to get him on board.
The Lorax isn't just the hero to the Once-ler's villain. If he's meant to represent environmentalists, there might be a lesson for them in this story, too: compromise and diplomacy catch more flies than vinegar. But of course, there might be situations in which such tactics must be thrown out the window. Which is when we call in Steven Seagal. Where were you when the Lorax needed you, Steven?
Before the Once-ler chops down that first Truffula Tree, the Lorax doesn't need to be in the forest. He just stays inside the tree, doing… um… we have no idea what.
Not only can this guy pop out of trees, he can also lift himself up by his own seat and fly. Not much of an arsenal for a superhero, true. But his main power—the power of speech—does seem to be ultimately effective, in spite of his tiny stature and limited power. He might not save this forest, but if the Once-ler and the boy keep passing on his story, his words might just reach the masses.