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How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!


by Dr. Seuss

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Illustrations

How It All Goes Down

Real Talk: did you realize that in these illustrations, the Grinch is NOT green?


The dude is green. He's always been green, hasn't he?

It turns out, that's not so. In fact, it wasn't until the 1966 cartoon that the Grinch became green, and after that, the color just kind of stuck (source).

The illustrations in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! are simple black and white drawings with a hint of red here and there—just enough to bring out some of the props and decorations, and remind us that were dealing with a book in which Christmas is front and center.

And that's it. No green, no purple, no tinsley silver.

Color Me Colorless

In How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Seuss really pares down his use of color and uses just one to support the story of the Grinch—the color red.

We know. We expected to see a green Grinch too!

But the use of red helps to bring a pop to certain details in the story, such as the Grinch's Santy Claus suit (see the "Symbols" section for more on this particular piece of clothing) and the great big red bag filled with all the things he stole.

It's also worth noting that the color red coincides with all the things that the Grinch thinks make up Christmas—the Santa suit, the gifts, the decorations on the tree. Because red is associated with the holiday, the Grinch sees it in a shallow, materialistic way and mistakes those things and colors as Christmas itself.

Plus, not to point out the obvious or anything, but red = anger. And guess who's angry in this story? That's right, in the beginning, when he's wreaking havoc on the Whos, the Grinch's eyes are always tinged with red. Creepy, right?

However, when it becomes clear that the holiday is more than the superficial objects or color red, his eyes stick shut and his expression grows compassionate. In other words, he no longer looks like this guy.

The Grinch's Grin (And Other Expressions)

Oh that nasty, wasty Grinch. He's always stirring up trouble with that sly, up to no good grin on his face, isn't he?

One of the joys of flipping through the pages of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is in taking note of how much time Seuss spent working on the Grinch's many facial expressions. From the creepy villain grin (which he's perfected), to an affronted frown, the Grinch is certainly one to wear his shriveled up heart on his sleeve.

Seuss often plays with the expressions on his characters' faces, but in the case of the Grinch, he really goes above and beyond, showing us every frown line, furrowed brow, every tuft of hair out of place.

Why all the effort? Well, the entire story revolves around the Grinch and his inner state, so it makes sense that Seuss would focus on the Grinch's outward displays of emotion when sketching the character.

As the Grinch broods, plots, pouts and schemes, we see each frown and smirk that betrays what he is feeling inside. At the beginning, he's all frowns as he leans against a rock, sneering down at Who-ville. However, once he starts sneaking into the Whos' homes, his expression remains one of mean satisfaction. He's smiling, but it's not a nice smile at all. He departs from this for just a second when Cindy-Lou Who catches him in her house; suddenly, the Grinch is all fluttery eyelashes and a sweet smile. But right afterwards, he is back to that devious, Grinchy grin.

It is only when we get to the end—where he reaches his Christmas epiphany and changes his mind about the holidays—that that grin doesn't look so creepy anymore.

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