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Sneetches and Other Stories

Page history last edited by Allie Manning 9 years, 3 months ago

The Sneetches and Other Stories

 

 

by Dr. Seuss

 

Plot Summary

The Sneetches and Other Stories, by Dr. Seuss is fiction consisting of four different stories compiled into one book, beginning with The Sneetches. The Sneetches is an engaging story about two groups of the fuzzy, yellow and birdlike creatures called Sneetches. The “Star-Belly Sneetches” and the “Plain-Belly Sneetches” provide a picture of typical competition between two groups who have different characteristics.  It is a story of discrimination, oppression, and as mentioned before, competition. The story is a journey through the relationship between the two groups. Will the Sneetches get along in the end?

The second story in the book is called The Zax. The Zax is a short story on a topic so many can relate to: pride. Two stubborn Zax, one traveling north and one traveling south, meet up on their journeys. There’s only one problem, they are blocking each other’s paths. The story tells of their interesting predicament and how they decide to handle (or not handle) it.

The third story, called Too Many Daves, is a unique one describing a mother’s self-induced plight. She has named all of her twenty-three sons “Dave.” This, as one could imagine, provides her with some difficult situations.

Lastly, What Was I Scared Of? is a story of the unknown. It tells of a small creature that continually runs into an empty, live, green pair of pants. He runs from the pants every time he sees them, afraid of what may happen if he encounters them closely. Eventually, the two do meet up in a dark Snide-field picking Snide. It is then that they discover what each other is all about.

The fantasy genre adds an element of creativity to stories so relatable for humans. Most of the characters are animal-like, with the exception of the Daves and their mother. The characters have unusual identities with their names being things like “Sneetches” and “Zax.” The plots are somewhat realistic with fantastic qualities and though the characters are made up types of animals, their personalities, attitudes, and characteristics are the same as humans. The overall tone throughout the stories is humorous and even contains a hint of sarcasm in some areas, such as in the ending of The Zax. All of the elements of the book work together to create a masterpiece representation of relatable truths of the human nature. 

 

 

Textual Elements

These four stories contain themes of human stubbornness, pride, discrimination, arrogance, fear, and stupidity. Seuss clearly aims to present these human downfalls and to warn readers of the consequences or outcomes of their actions. He exposes the tendency of humans to act irrationally and uses a tone of sarcasm and humor to do it. The Zax, for instance, centers on stubbornness. The two Zax are confronted with the issue of who is going to move to let the other pass. Their inability to work together results in a negative outcome. The stories force the reader to examine their shortcomings and to consider the results of change.

 

The settings vary throughout the stories. In The Sneetches the characters reside near a beach, which is evidenced by the illustrations as well as by the text. "They left them in the cold, in the dark of the beaches..." The sky is blue and there are some grasslike areas, water, and many hills. The setting is made known, but not elaborated on. The same is true for The Zax. The Zax are walking through the "prairie of Prax." The illustrations suggest a desert rather than a prairie due to the yellow ground and the footprints left behind by the Zax. There is nothing in sight except land and a blue sky, until later when a city appears. Too Many Daves takes place in the family's yard and in their small, house with daisies on the lawn. Most of the setting is surrounded by white. What Was I Scared Of? has the most interesting setting with its dreary colors, spooky woods and neighborhoods, and dark Roover River. The entire story takes place at night in these various outdoor places.

 

The Sneetches, The Zax, and Too Many Daves are all told in third person. The Sneetches are highly concerned with being the best. They are arrogant and discriminatory and shallow. These characters as well as "Sylvester McMonkey McBean," who arrives on the scene to "help" the Sneetches out, are very representative to those in the world who are looking to be on top, whether in appearance, reputation, or wealth. The Zax consists of two very stubborn Zax who are furry, determined characters. They are uncooperative and persistent, and it results in negative consequences. The mother in Too Many Daves is seemingly unintelligent and often frazzled. They story is very short, so her characterization is not very detailed, but she is a mother of 23 energetic Daves. The creature in What Was I Scared Of? is small, yellow, and comparable to a rabbit. He is timid and easily frightened, but at the beginning denies that he is afraid. The pants are eerie and at first intimidating. However, they eventually are seen as easily frightened and timid as well. This book is the only one written in first-person. All four stories are all rather short, so the characters are not very developed, but the plots and outcomes serve to make their attitudes and tendencies known.

 

Artistic Elements 

The Sneetches and Other Stories has a uniform style of art throughout all of its stories. All include the unique characters typical of Dr. Seuss. The art is cartoon art; the drawings portray characters but they are not realistic ones. The colors consist of mainly yellow and various shades of teal, however other bright colors are included as well. 

Suess, as the illustrator, has a sketchy, bold style of art. Motion and depth is enhanced with black lines and cross-hatching. He creates unique animal-like characters and odd machines, like those seen in The Sneetches. Much of the time, his backgrounds are very open, sometimes colorless, and the characters exist in the space.

The Sneetches has a bigger color variety than the other stories, with its teal, green, red, yellow, black and white. The Zax consists mostly of dark shades of teal and yellow and Too Many Daves has much pure white space. What Was I Afraid Of? is darker and drearier in color, considering it takes place at night. Most of the illustrations are sketched in black and filled in with teal or yellow. Throughout the book, the words are printed in a typical black font and placed near the center of the page. The only exceptions are the titles of each story, which are in more bold type. The majority of the illustrations are full page spreads.

 

        

 

 Analysis and Critique

The Sneetches and Other Stories is a compilation rich with life lessons. All four of Seuss’ stories not only give the reader something to think about, but force them to examine their own attitudes and actions. Seuss tells a story of the human nature throughout his pieces. He explores stubbornness, pride, discrimination, arrogance, fear, and stupidity. His writing serves as a warning against these various attitudes and as a reader, we almost thank him for that warning. We find out, for instance, whether or not the Sneetches find peace and can relate their story to pieces of history and the to the failings and successes of our own lives. 

Whether or not the problems of the characters are solved, the ending of each story has a clear and impacting message. This is a result of the well-defined characters. Though the characters are not described in detail, their behaviors give the reader all he or she needs to know. Because of the nature of The Sneetches and Other Stories as a picture book, the reader gets the additional help of knowing what the character looks like. The scene surrounding not only adds to the storyline, but it adds to the characterization. It can be seen visually who these characters are, what their facial expressions and attitudes are like, and what worlds they exist in. The creature and the pants in What Was I Scared Of? for instance, exist in a dark and dreary world. Their surroundings are eerie, which adds to the feeling of fear and unfamiliarity that the characters are experiencing.

The messages of each story can resonate with any age. The book would be an appropriate read for young children as well as for older readers. The illustrations, done by Seuss, are colorful, playful, and cartoon-like. The stories are fun and engaging as well as potentially life-changing. All four stories are written with rhyme and contain a number of made-up words. At one point, the mother of the 23 Daves imagines a number of names she could have picked instead and the selections are entertaining for children and adults alike. They include things like “Hoos-Foos,” “Hot-Shot,” and “Ziggy.”

The fantasy genre adds an element of creativity to stories so relatable for humans. Most of the characters are animal-like, with the exception of the Daves and their mother. The characters have humorous identities with their names being things like “Sneetches” and “Zax.” The plot is realistic, but is presented using mostly unrealistic characters. However, though the characters are made up types of animals, their personalities, attitudes, and characteristics are the same as humans. The overall tone throughout the stories is humorous and even contains a hint of sarcasm in some areas, such as in the ending of The Zax. All of the elements of the book work together to create a masterpiece representation of relatable truths of the human nature. This book is highly recommended for anyone who wants a laugh, a lesson, or to simply be entertained. It is fiction listed at $14.95.

 

 

Review written by Alexandria Manning.

 

Citation

 

Seuss, Dr. The Sneetches and Other Stories. New York: Random House, 1961.

 

 

References

 

 

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