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Symbols and Metaphors in the “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Suess

Dr. Suess’s full names are Theodor Seuss Geisel. The American writer as well as a cartoonist lived in the period between 1904 and the year 1991. Dr. Suess became famous for specializing in children’s books where he has published over sixty books. His writings are notably characterized by the use of imaginative characters.

His frequently used stylistic devices are the rhyming and trisyllabic meter or the poetic meter. There has been an adaptation of his literary work which has been developed to other publications such as in televisions, films and music. He also managed to communicate his political views through his works and especially through the use of cartoons. He did show openly his fears for a communist society, condemned racism that was directed towards African American people and the Jews. It was clear that he was in support of Japanese Americans in the Second World War. All his writings have a moral lesson for children to learn through the reading of the book. He has communicated numerous views on the social and political aspects. This essay will focus on one of the books by Dr. Suess namely “Green Eggs and Ham.”

The book was published in the year 1961 and proved to be one of his best-selling books and is evaluated by the Publishers Weekly as being the fourth best-selling children’s novel written in the English language. Dr. Suess has used rhyming dialogue and pictures or images in the delivery of ideas.

There is no given narrative as many would expect of any novel. The dialogue has been made interesting through the use of hilarious conversation between characters which has been made even more interesting through the use of poetic rhyming.

Dr. Suess delivers his ideas using simple vocabulary suitable for beginners. The total number of the different words used in the whole novel is fifty words and forty-nine of which are monosyllabic and the one remaining one is anywhere. The sentences are simple and easy to understand so that the beginners are able to understand the context. The words are intertwined to describe events and gradually they develop into a story. A good example is the description of Henry’s refusal to accept the dish that was being offered by Sam. When he is describing the places and situations that will not make him have the meal, the sequence and the repetition of the words develop into an interesting story.

There are only two major characters in the novels identified as unnamed or in short, there is no specific identity given to the person but is at times referred to as Sam-I’m-Not also identified as Henry or Herman and the other character is identified as Sam-I-Am and mostly referred as Sam (Geisel, p. 7). All through we see Sam trying to persuade the unnamed party to have Green Eggs and Ham in the claim that it was tasteful but do not succeed. Henry or the unnamed party do not take any interest at all and insist that the dish wouldn’t be good to him and that he would not find it tasteful. Sam goes for miles in the attempt of making Henry have the dish but all hit a hard rock as Henry dismisses all the attempts.

Finally, as the tale is coming to an end we see Henry giving in to Sam’s insistence but only as of the boat sinking and he stands on the shallow waters tired of Sam’s persistence.

He gives in having conditioned Sam that on tasting it, Sam would drop the idea of insisting he take the dish one more time. Ironically, Henry realizes that the dish tasted much better and that he liked it much more than he or even Sam had ever imagined (Geisel, p. 60). He discovers that he would have it as the main dish in all the other places that are listed in the book that they were scheduled to go to and all the parties that they were to dine with. At the end of everything, Henry is thanking Sam for having gone for miles in persuading him to taste the dish. He discovers that were it not for the instance of Sam, he would never have liked the dish, and neither would he have tasted it.

In the novel, Dr. Suess is able to bring out a number of theories such as racism, religion, sexuality, politics and many more. Looking at the theme of racism, we see Dr. Suess using symbolism to depict the situation that was in place during the 1960s. The events in the Bible are also used symbolically to not only entertain beginners but also communicate serious political issues to the people reading the stories to the children.

Dr. Suess uses the green eggs to represent the Black Equality and the Jews and the other minority groups. Taking Green Eggs and Ham is not pleasant as we all know it is some kind of waste that should be thrown away thus persuading a person to take it appears ludicrous. Ironically instead of Sam throwing them, he has come to embrace them as an only alternative meal and even draws his colleagues to accepting their fate and taking them.

When Henry finally accepts them he fully adopts them to an extent of loving them. The use of Fox and box is to represent other objects such as the fox assumes the role of American Indian and the box takes the role of a Japanese home.

The egg and ham represent a relationship that existed between whites and black people (Geisel, p. 24). Through the use of symbolism and metaphors, the author has communicated the underlying relationship between the whites and the minority groups.

When Sam adopts a meal that was worth throwing away, it is a clear indication that there was no equality and that the blacks could only be compared to wastes or worthless beings.

Through the struggles that they undergo, it is a clear indication that with determination, they would one day enjoy freedom from racism and equality although this remains a dream.

Dr. Suess cleverly uses the Biblical “I Am” found in the book of Exodus 3:14. In the Chapter, God is described as “I Am” in response to Moses’s questions during his call. In this Sam represents I Am on a lighter note (Mason). Sam would give revelation to people which is seen when he continuously persuades his friend to have the Green eggs. The illustration would also be used to explain sexuality where the green eggs represent the female reproductive system and the ham as the male reproductive system (Mason). The background represents a springtime when reproduction is on the pick and the food offer is simply the communication of sexual needs and desires.

In conclusion, we can say that analogies and metaphors have been effectively used by Dr. Suess to bring ideas into context using the same objects. Various theories have been highlighted and continuous struggles that were made at the period prior to the publication of the book surfaced and the various solutions offered.

Works Cited

  1. Geisel, Seuss. Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read It All by Myself Beginner Books).New York, NY: Random House Books for Young Readers. 2000. Print.
  2. Mason, Matt. A Review of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, 1999.
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