The Sneetches and Other Stories
by Dr. Seuss
"What Was I Scared Of?" Characters
Our unnamed narrator begins his story walking through the woods at night because he [has] never been afraid / Of anything" (Scared.4-5). We've got a Tough Guy on our hands.
Of course, all that changes when he spies a pair of pale green pants floating in the air with no one wearing them. He's terrified. But, hey, no harm no foul, right? Except that the pants seem to be gunning for him, chasing him like Dracula after a damsel. Gulp.
The narrator is eventually cornered by the pants. But before he can have a proper horror movie death scene, he watches the pants break down crying. He realizes that "I was just as strange to them / As they were strange to me" (Scared.80-81). Didn't see that one coming, did you?
The narrator's lesson is meant to be our lesson, and it's pretty easy to spot. We're typically terrified of things that are strange to us: being lost in new cities, parties where we don't know anyone, and don't forget the weird foods appearing unexpectedly on dinner plates. The moral? Don't automatically be afraid of strange things, or you might let an opportunity slip by you. (Yes, even when it comes to your food.)
Mr. Empty Pants
The empty pants' story and the narrator's story are actually pretty similar—we just don't get to see the empty pants' side of things. In fact, the pants are so terrified by the narrator that they "tremble" when confronted with him (Scared.76). Hey, they may be floating pants with unaccounted-for free will, but the narrator is still a bear-like creature in a dark, scary forest.
The empty pants also serve a symbolic purpose in the story, so don't forget to peek over to our "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section for more on these green pantaloons.