Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
by Dr. Seuss
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories Power Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
He ordered nine turtles to swim to his stone
And, using these turtles, he built a new throne.
He made each turtle stand on another one's back
And he piled them all up in a nine-turtle stack. (Yertle.19-23)
Here's a little thing about powerful people. Unless you're careful, they'll take whatever pleases them. And that's exactly what Yertle does here. See how Seuss uses the word "ordered" rather than "kindly requested the participation of his turtle subjects for a new, collaborative throne building project"? Yeah, that's because, even though Yertle is looking to get more power, he's already got enough of it to do what he likes. Including piling his formerly free citizens into nine-turtle stacks.
"All mine!" Yertle cried. "Oh, the things I now rule! / I'm king of a cow! And I'm king of a mule!" (Yertle.25-26)
Hey kids! Shmoop here with a super-secret question. Have you ever wanted to be powerful? If so, we have the solution for you! Yes, that's right, if you truly want to be powerful, there's one key thing you've got to do: own things.
It's pretty much impossible to be considered a powerful person unless you've got things you rule over. Just think about it. If everyone was holding hands and singing kumbaya, it'd be hard to say, "I'm more powerful than you." Yertle knows this oh-so-well, which is why he immediately claims to own whatever he sees. No vote here, just a declaration from up on high. "Oh, the things I now rule!"
"SILENCE!" the King of the Turtles barked back.
"I'm King, and you're only a turtle named Mack." (Yertle.40-41)
Here's another little secret about being powerful (boy, we're giving away the whole book today!). You can't very well stay powerful if the bottommost turtle in the stack (Mack) is questioning your authority. Because whether you like it or not, your power wouldn't be there without those turtles doing all of the hard work beneath you.
That's why Yertle SILENCES the tiniest, most polite dissent in ALL CAPS and why he reminds Mack of his social status in the pond ("you're only a turtle named Mack"). Hey, a brutal dictator has to keep his power in place somehow, right? RIGHT?