… analysis made for some interesting reading. For those unfamiliar with the story, the Cat in the Hat encourages a couple “Home Alone” kids to do a bunch of ridiculous crap and their goldfish attempts to be the voice of reason.
The Cat proceeds to charm the wary youths into engaging in what he so innocently refers to as “tricks.” At this point, the fish, an obvious Christ figure who represents the prevailing Christian morality, attempts to warn the children, and thus, in effect, warns all of humanity of the dangers associated with the unleashing of the primal urges. In response to this, the cat proceeds to balance the aquatic naysayer on the end of his umbrella, essentially saying, “Down with morality; down with God!”
After poohpoohing the righteous rantings of the waterlogged Christ figure, the Cat begins to juggle several icons of Western culture, most notably two books, representing the Old and New Testaments, and a saucer of lactal fluid, an ironic reference to maternal loss the two children experienced when their mother abandoned them “for the afternoon.” Our heroic Id adds to this bold gesture a rake and a toy man, and thus completes the Oedipal triangle
Has the anonymous author of this piece read too much into this tale of childish recklessness, or is he hitting the phallic nail on the head here? According to CNN, Ted Geisel wrote the book as a statement against the boredom that was Dick and Jane books and wanted something better and more fun so kids would grow up loving to read. Decide which of these theories you like better, I guess.
It turns out that Geisel was Lutheran and Christians have been encouraged to use his secular writings in morality lesson plans for some time.
In 2004, Judson Press published a thin book by clergyman James W. Kemp called, The Gospel According To Dr. Seuss, which sought to liberate Geisel’s theology from the pages of his children’s books. Kemp was somewhat successful in connecting biblical passages to Geisel’s themes of faith and forgiveness, and to the social concerns about war, racism and the environment that are found in his books.
As an artist, Geisel created flamboyant creatures for children to enjoy, and placed words like diamonds on pages to bring them joy. It seems that in it all he was just passing on the Christian values he learned as a child.
But there’s also evidence that Geisel and his wife might have been pro-abortion. His widow raised a stink over an anti-abortion group that took the Horton Hears a Who quote, “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” for their own advertising campaign.
Atheists can find meaning in his books, too. I found a nice piece by Pinoy Atheist, comparing atheist/religious debates to the Zax and their stubbornness. I hadn’t heard of that one so I hunted down a video version. The music is provided by someone emulating Bob Dylan from an album called Dylan Hears a Who.
Why ask why, I say…