One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
by Dr. Seuss
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Though we're sick and tired of hearing Ned whine about his dirty, rotten, no good bed, we're still gonna give you the skinny on his skinny sleeping surface. How could we not? It pops up over and over again, so it's gotta mean something, right?
Ned's bed first appears when we are introduced to—you guessed it—Ned. In the beginning, the bed accompanies Ned's introduction almost as though it is an extension of Ned himself. He's Ned, and he hates his stinkin' bed. That's pretty much all you need to know about the guy (and the bed, for that matter).
See, Ned defines himself by what he does not like, which is his "little bed" (86). At first glance, you can dismiss it as a small preference thing, like not liking purple Skittles or vowing to never listen to a Jonas Brothers song (which, if you're honest with yourself is a vow you're bound to break).
But soon it becomes apparent that the bed stands for much more. The bed both dictates and reflects Ned's relationship to the rest of the world. Deep, huh? Let's dig deeper.
It's Always Bedtime
The next that we meet Ned, he's on the phone with someone complaining about the bed. At this point, we can't help but wonder: hey Ned, if you hate your bed so much, why don't you, you know, get out of it?
Maybe he's too busy complaining to bother: "Oh! what a bed! Oh! what a house!" (117) he exclaims, obviously disgruntled by everything around him. No wonder he can't muster the strength to rouse himself. All that griping takes a lot out of a guy.
But it's not just complaining that has Ned stuck in perpetual bed-dom. It's because poor Ned's mind is shut tighter than a jar of your favorite mayo when you're just dying for a BLT. As we mentioned in Ned's "Character Analysis," he's unlike the children in just about every which way; he's their foil.
And the bed is a big part of that foily business. Where the kids are open-minded and game for whatever adventure might come their way, Ned's been downing haterade, and couldn't be open-minded if he tried.
And what a bummer that is. Because Ned's stuck in his too-small bed, he can't appreciate all the wonderful Seussian strangeness that surrounds him. He can't enjoy the company of the animals who come to call (and who wouldn't want a visit from the barnyard's best?). He can't go on bike-riding adventures with the kids or learn to box with a Gox. Ned fails to take risks and seek out the hijinks the boy and girl find, because he lies in bed all day trying to show people exactly how small his bed is. Yes, Ned. We can see that either your head or your feet stick out. We get it.
But maybe that bed is so small because Ned's head is so small. He only has room in there to detest his bed, which, in the end, represents his own closed-mindedness. You know what that means? In a weird way, it's his own closed-mindedness that Ned hates the most. Minds? Blown.
So, you might say that the bed is way more than just a measly old bed. Or you might just say that Ned's a nincompoop. Either way, you'd be right.