The Sneetches and Other Stories
by Dr. Seuss
Sylvester McMonkey McBean
McBean arrives at the beaches of those poor Plain-Belly Sneetches just in time—when they are feeling as lowly and small as ever. Calling himself the "Fix-it-Up Chappie" (Sneetches.30), McBean claims he can solve their problems. Sure, he's going to charge them three bucks a pop, but his "work is one hundred per cent guaranteed" (Sneetches.33).
Hmmm. This guy's starting to sound like an infomercial. A manipulative one at that. He alternates between star-giving and star-taking away without blinking an eye. Sounds like a con artist to us.
Dr. Seuss may have been a little more cynical. See, McBean is a capitalist at heart, and Seuss doesn't seem to be in the capitalist fan club. McBean wants every cent he can squeeze from those Sneetches, and he plays off their Sneetchy desires to get it. He keeps the demand for his services high, and as long as the Sneetches are always trying to one-up each other, McBean's got the cash a-flowing.
But how does McBean have this power over the Sneetches?
Maybe the only power McBean really holds is his ability to build the Star-Off and Star-On machines. But guess what? That's enough. The Sneetches don't seem to have a means to produce stars on their own. So when McBean arrives with his know how, that's that. He who has the machine has the power—it's Supply and Demand 101.
Once the cash flow is gone, so is McBean. As he drives away, he chants, "No. You can't teach a Sneetch" (Sneetches.92). Thankfully, he seems to be wrong on this one at least.
Don't forget to sneak a peek at McBean's machines in the "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section if you want to dig a bit deeper.