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Can you imagine some little guy who's constantly up in your business, criticizing your every move, and always trying to make you feel bad about yourself? Congratulations. Now you know what it's like to be a parent. #parentjoke
|American Literature||20th-Century American Literature|
All American Literature
|Author||Geisel - Theodor Seuss Geisel|
Seuss - Dr. Seuss
|Themes||Compassion and Forgiveness|
Language and Communication
Man and the Natural World
What message was Dr. Seuss trying to convey?
One possibility is that Seuss was trying to point a "you're-killing-the-environment" finger
at big business.
Keep in mind when the Lorax was written.
These days, a lot of people make an effort to stay "green."
But back in the early '70s, being environmentally conscious was...weird.
Smog had enveloped cities...
...a river in Ohio had literally caught on fire...
We even needed a giant owl to remind us not to litter.
So, when "The Lorax" was published in 1971, it definitely struck a nerve.
A lot of this may have to do with the portrayal of the Once-ler.
The Once-ler set up shop and hooked up all of his family and friends with sweet gigs...
His only real desire was to "bigger" his business.
And we all know how that turned out.
So does the Once-ler represent capitalism at its greediest?
Was Dr. Seuss's main message that industry is basically destructive?
Or maybe it's less about the Once-ler and more about the Lorax.
After all, the Lorax was not very fun to be around.
Sure, he had a noble cause.
But let's face it: he was not the sort to try and meet the Once-ler halfway on anything.
All he did was lecture.
It's no wonder the Once-ler kept tuning him out...all he heard was "bad, bad, bad."
And that was the common perception of environmentalists back in 1971: all they could do is nay-say.
So maybe Dr. Seuss is also pointing a finger at people who talk a big game, but never actually
do anything to clean up the environment.
But there is one more character...and one more possibility.
In the end, paradise is lost, and the Once-ler reveals that he's in possession of one last
He is clearly troubled by his previous deeds.
Even so, he doesn't plant the last seed himself, but instead passes the responsibility to some
kid he just met!
The Once-ler got his 15 cents and got to wash his hands of the whole affair.
So maybe that's the book's main message: it's up to you, young reader, to clean up this
environmental mess. It's clear that Dr. Seuss was trying to send
a message about the environment...but what was it?
Was he trying to blame big business for environmental issues?
Was he arguing that environmental activism takes more than just lecturing?
Or was he just saying that it is up to the next generation to, well, fix everything?
Shmoop amongst yourselves.