The Sneetches' stars are a pretty in-your-face symbol. In Sneetchville, they represent difference. In Humanville, they represent discrimination.
Think back to all the times humans (and maybe Sneetches, too) have discriminated against people because of the way they look. We won't even list them because it would be too depressing—and too obvious. One example we will point to: Jewish people, who were made to wear stars (yep, stars) to distinguish themselves through various periods in history. Because "The Sneetches" was first published in 1961, during the Civil Rights Movement, we're pretty sure Seuss had all this discrimination jazz on his mind.
But there's a key difference between human discrimination and Sneetch discrimination: the Sneetches can pay to get their stars (or get rid of them). When the Plain-Belly Sneetches pay to get stars on their tummies, they exclaim, "We're all just the same, now, you snooty old smarties! / And now we can go to your frankfurter parties" (Sneetches.46-47). Skin color, religion, sexuality—these, on the other hand, can't be bought and sold.
What does all this mean? Maybe the prejudice isn't based on how the Sneetches look, but on what they own. Just as bad, to be sure, but it's an important distinction. In a way, Seuss might be warning us that these types of prejudices—based on class—are just as diabolical as others. Maybe more so since they can be harder to spot.
Curious how this symbol plays out? Jump over to our "Characters" section and take a gander at the Sneetches and McBean analyses to find out.