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The Sneetches and Other Stories

The Sneetches and Other Stories


by Dr. Seuss

The Sneetches and Other Stories The Sneetches Summary

  • Living on beaches, there are some Sneetches, some with stars and some without. Sorry, we're just channeling our Seuss here.
  • Moving on.
  • Sylvester McMonkey McBean arrives on the scene, and vintage Seuss chaos ensues—of the muddled-fuddled-wuddled variety no less.
  • Now we are introduced to our two types of Sneetches: the Star-Belly and the Plain-Belly.
  • As it turns out, the Star-Belly Sneetches are a wee-bit snooty about having those belly stars. They won't walk or talk with the Plain-Belly Sneetches, and their children won't play ball together.
  • This sounds like some flat out prejudice to us.
  • Speaking of prejudice, here's a little tidbit for you: Dr. Seuss was not Jewish.
  • Wait, that's not the tidbit. The tidbit is this: Seuss faced quite a bit anti-Semitism in college. Apparently, some guys thought he was Jewish and, while thinking this thought, decided they didn't like it very much. Not the smartest bunch, that's for sure.
  • This event left its mark on the young Seuss, and his work denounced bigotry ever since, from his early political cartoons (well, mostly—see "Brain Snacks") to "The Sneetches" (source).
  • Back to the story. The grandest insult in Sneetchville is when the Star-Belly Sneetches have beach parties and leave the Plain-Belly Sneetches out in the cold. No frankfurters, no marshmallows, no nothing.
  • Enter: a stranger in a strange car.
  • He announces himself as Sylvester McMonkey McBean (we kid you not), and he announces that he has a machine. This machine, it turns out, will solve all the Plain-Belly Sneetches' problems.
  • McBean quickly creates a machine that will give the Sneetches belly stars for a mere three dollars each.
  • Bit of a niche market, sure, but the machine actually works.
  • And just like that, the Plain-Belly Sneetches get them some stars on their bellies.
  • Super content, the once Plain-Belly Sneetches go to show off their brand new stars and get accepted into the group…
  • Yeah right. As if it ever works out that way.
  • Surprise, surprise, the Star-Belly Sneetches, the ones who had the stars first, know they are still the best Sneetches. If only they had a way they could tell again…
  • Hello, McBean.
  • Yeah, this guy has a way to make them "the best Sneetches on beaches" (Sneetches.56), and it'll only cost them ten dollars apiece.
  • And that, Shmoopers, is called "Supply and Demand." Learn to love it.
  • So what's the plan? Well, McBean has a star-off machine that he uses to remove the Sneetches' stars. It works as advertised.
  • Now, in a surprising twist, the original Star-Belly Sneetches strut their now Plain-Bellies.
  • Oh my.
  • As you can imagine, the now (i.e., new) Star-Belly Sneetches are miffed. But not for long.
  • Soon enough, McBean slyly invites them for a go in his star-off Machine.
  • Let the chaos begin.
  • The Sneetches go back and forth between the two machines, trying to outdo each other and become the best on the beach. Yes, this would make a phenomenal slapstick routine.
  • As for McBean, well, he's going to need a rake to pile all that cash.
  • With every dollar of the Sneetches' money in tow, McBean clears out, saying, "They never will learn. / No. You can't teach a Sneetch!" (Sneetches.91-92)
  • But guess what, McBean?
  • You were wrong. The Sneetches do learn their lesson and decide to not care about who has a star upon thars.
  • Booya.

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