Book #1 – The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat is the story about two children, Sally and her older brother (the nameless narrator), who are stuck at home on a rainy day. All of a sudden, a seemingly adult male cat emerges and introduces utter chaos to the house. Also, there is a goldfish who is able to talk and reasons that this cat in a hat should not be in this house creating such chaos. Eventually, the Cat in the Hat realizes that all of this fun has indeed created a path of obvious destruction. But don’t worry, he has a machine that is able to clean an entire house in mere seconds before the mother of Sally and her brother returns home. Phew!

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Colin prefers to read using his peripheral vision.

Observations:

1.) Why are these children left home alone? Sally cannot be older than 5 or 6 and the narrator cannot be older than 10. While level of maturity and responsibility should be included in deciding when a child can be put in charge of younger siblings, I have never seen any law that allows for any person younger than 12 to be put in charge of others for an extended period of time. 

2.) It should be noted that a father does not seem to be in the lives of this family. The narrator points out that the kite being flown by either Thing One or Thing Two hits the head of “mother’s bed” (p. 41). It should also be observed that Seuss drew what seems to be a single bed (p. 42). 

3.) Seuss said that he was inspired to write TCITH in response to the plethora of primers and books that taught children by means of well-behaved, abnormally courteous, and strangely clean children. So while many books tend to teach the skills of reading through safe and approved activities (see: Fun with Dick and Jane). So Seuss is writing in order to teach children how to read not through system and order, but through chaos.

Ultimately, TCITH is a story about responsible childhood independence. It is the story about the anarchy of imagination (notice that the Cat and the fish only exist in the absence of Sally and the narrator’s mother). It is a story of children left to their own wits and devices; of harnessing the fantasies of the mind. You could even see it as a story of two natures, reason and disorder and perhaps a place for each in the life of a child.

I think my favorite part of the story is the last page; the mother asks the two children what occurred during her egregious absence, and the narrator then opens up to his audience, inquiring what all the little boys and girls of the world would do in his situation. So in the end Seuss has created a story about the borders between adults and children, about how a mother could never understand what just happened. It is a story for every child who has tried to explain their world to an adult who only shakes their head and laughs.

Also, the wonderful Alec Baldwin starred in the movie adaptation!

Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 6:32 am  Comments (2)  
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