Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!
by Dr. Seuss
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Even something as insignificant as a rug can be important in the right context. Literature can be devious like that. How devious does Marvin K. Mooney get? Well, the rug doesn't make an appearance in the actual words of the poem. It only appears in the illustrations, but we still think it's worth devoting a little discussion to, and here's why.
Seuss distinctly shaped the rug like a target, and Marvin K. Mooney stands rather conveniently in the bull's eye. At first, it seems like just something to cover the floor in the drawing—it is a rug after all and that's what rugs do. But later in the poem, the rug changes twice:
• First, in the illustration paired with lines 82-86, Marvin K. Mooney shrinks while the rug and the Narrator's pointy-finger increase in size. These lines also feature the biggest, meanest, most in-your-face "Go"s of the entire poem.
• Second, at the very end of the poem, we see an illustration of Marvin K. walking off the rug. It's the only time we see Marvin smile other than in the imaginative imagery of the transportation drawings.
So what are we supposed to make of this? Well, consider the fact that Dr. Seuss said Marvin K. was a stand-in for President Richard Nixon. It's possible that Seuss was suggesting that Nixon's refusal to leave was only making him a target (hence the rug's design). After all, it became very clear at the end of Nixon's presidency that the American people (read: the Narrator?) didn't want him to stay in office. Of course, Nixon dragged out the scenario, making him more and more of a target for criticism and ridicule.
But look at that last illustration again. Marvin K. Mooney is smiling as he leaves, whereas he never smiled on the rug itself. While it's certain that Seuss didn't like Nixon as a president, he doesn't seem to be having him play the villain either. Maybe this is Seuss's way of saying that Nixon stepping down—stepping off the rug, as it were—will be best for all involved. The American people will be happier, and— you know what?—so will Nixon.
But of course that's just one possible reading of the rug's significance to Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!. We're sure there are others too. What do you think?
As we said, the rug doesn't actually appear in the text itself. But here is a list of lines in which an illustration featuring the rug is paired with: (1-3), (4-5), (6-9), (82-86), (87-89).