The Sneetches and Other Stories
by Dr. Seuss
What’s Up With the Ending?
The Sneetches are Penniless but Happy
The end of "The Sneetches" is all about lessons learned.
As McBean drives away with the Sneetches' cash, he exclaims, "They never will learn. / No. You can't teach a Sneetch" (Sneetches.91-92). But, the Sneetches do learn their lesson that day. They decide that "no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches" (Sneetches.96), showing that they've put aside their prejudices. It seems like their new knowledge will help them remain swindle-free from the snake oil salesmen of the world, à la McBean.
But wait. Is that ambiguity we spy heading on the horizon? McBean said, "They never will learn." This means that McBean has a history of his scam-happy ways. We don't know whether or not it was these Sneetches or other Sneetches, but McBean has certainly played the long con on some Sneetches somewhere before. Looks like it's not so clear-cut.
We have some questions:
- Did McBean scam these Sneetches before?
- If so, will the lesson stick this time or will they forget it and adopt new stars down the road for McBean to exploit?
- Will our Sneetches be able to teach other Sneetches the truth about the McBeans of the world?
Alas, we may never know the answers to these Sneetchy questions. But they're important nonetheless. After all, they're the questions we should be asking when we recognize our own stars.
Western Standoff, Zax Style
"The Zax" is another one of those lesson stories. Seuss really does embody a zany, modern Aesop, doesn't he?
The lesson here is that to get anywhere in the world you have to be flexible. The North-Going Zax wants to head north, the South-Going Zax south. Yet, neither are getting where they're going because their pride prevents them from considering another way to meet their goal. They want to go in one direction only.
Now look at that highway pictured with the final stanza. It loops and curves and rolls around the Zax like a contortionist. The highway is flexible, and you know what? The people driving on it are getting where they need to go just fine. (We wonder if Seuss would have been writing about Prax Prairie's energy-efficient vehicles today.)
Fulfilling Friendship, Empty Pants
"What Was I Scared Of?" ends with a friendship but begins with fear, making it the perfect "first day of school" story. The title says it all: what was I scared of?
It's a satisfying ending, minus the fact that we never learn how exactly those pants were bicycling around.