sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

March 1, 2012

The Lorax: A Case for Ownership

Filed under: children's literature, education, environmentalism, film, politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:00 pm

This one is for Andrew Breitbart.

Is there an AC transit vehicle left that doesn’t advertize the upcoming release of The Lorax?

The book is all right, not a Seuss favorite, but all right.  I feel like I’m required to summarize it.  A fellow named Once-ler came upon a pristine Truffula forest and unloaded his cart. He cut down a tree, and knitted a product called Thneed.  But then out of the trunk of the tree came the Lorax:

He was shortish.  And oldish.

And brownish.  And mossy.

And he spoke with a voice

that was sharpish a bossy.

The Lorax professed to speak for the trees and admonished Once-ler for cutting down the tree and making something that no one needs.  Taking into account that the Lorax is some sort of a mythological creature, and not a mere mortal or a committee of mortals, perhaps he does know what we need or don’t need.  Then again, the market for Thneeds seems to show otherwise.

The Lorax

The Lorax

Once-ler called up his family, set up a factory and proceeded to cut down more Truffulas.  Ignoring the Lorax’s protests that he is crazy with greed, Once-ler destroyed the habitat of Brown Bar-ba-loots and Swomee-Swans and polluted the Humming-Fish pond.  When he cut down the very last Truffula, his family left, and so did the Lorax, leaving the mysterious villain all alone.  The poem ends with Once-ler giving the very last truffula seed to a boy, instructing him to regrow the forest.

Once-ler is most definitely crazy with greed.  He was so focused on making Thneeds, that he didn’t notice his resources depleting.  Not a good business strategy.  A Truffula forest presented multiple business opportunities — a Humming-Fish resort and a Brown Bar-ba-loot petting zoo, for instance.  There is no reason why the sections of the forest where truffulas were cut down should not be replaced with new trees.

And why was Once-ler crazy with greed?  Probably because he didn’t own the truffula forest.  He simply came upon it and proceeded to destroy it.  Anyhow, this seems like an intuitive answer to me.  I grew up in a polluted city in a polluted country.  Back in the Soviet Union we thought that environmental degradation was a consequence of collectivism.  We thought that individuals were much more likely to take care of their own possessions than something that belongs to a group.

I doubt Seuss would agree with me, but note that in the conclusion the last truffula seed is entrusted to an individual.

I expect the film to be craptastic.

the lorax film

Mossy, sharpish and bossy or a plash toy?



  1. Ha ha ha! Thx for the laugh. I had never read the Lorax. I am now glad for that small mercy. Oh, how I do love Suess’ “What Was I Scared Of?” though. I think the moral to that one is, no one looks good in green pants.


    Comment by nooneofanyimport — March 2, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

    • I like Seuss. I like the Cat and the Hat, of course, and Horton, and a lot of other stories. This one is meh. In his defense, the Lorax was published shortly after the EPA was established. I guess it was a hot topic, and Seuss didn’t get to see the consequences of government’s involvement in environmental issues.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — March 2, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  2. Somebody needs to do a moral analysis of Dr Seuss’s body of work. He writes about weightier topics than his alliterate rhymes suggest. Bartholomew and the Oobleck is the book of Daniel. Feminists, if they paid any attention to Seuss might go horse shrieking about Happy Birthday to You and Horton Hears a Who and…what’s the one about the elephant who is faithful 100%? You just noted the property issues in The Lorax. Dr Seuss and the moral sense…give me a sec.

    Comment by AHLondon (@AHLondon_Tex) — March 2, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

  3. I didn’t find anything good. Let me check with my friend Charlie.

    Comment by AHLondon (@AHLondon_Tex) — March 2, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

    • Please do. I wrote this post about how we read the poem in our house, not so much about what Seuss intended.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — March 2, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

  4. […] to think of an idea for a post, and quickly discover that somebody already did it.  I wrote about capitalism and The Lorax a few days ago.  DH was talking about maybe writing a parody of the poem (although I doubt […]

    Pingback by The Lorax: A Parody « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — March 3, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

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