Would You Eat This with a Grain of Salt?

By Barbara Brotman Chicago Tribune | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 24, 1994 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Would You Eat This with a Grain of Salt?

Barbara Brotman Chicago Tribune, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NO DOUBT YOU, too, have noticed the symbolism in that well-known literary foray into the human subconscious, Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham."

What are we to make of the opening remark by the dour creature in the top hat: "I do not like that Sam-I-Am!"?

Parental rejection of an anarchic and inventive child-figure.

Sam-I-Am's subsequent and repeated offerings of the delectable verdant breakfast treat?

It's a child's attempts to win a parent's affection, and to ease adult gloom with the gift of childlike imagination.

So analyzes Tim Wolf, an assistant professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, in a paper to be published in the journal Children's Literature.

The innocent parent may be taken aback. Isn't it just a cute story with witty word plays?

Not by the hair on your chinny-chin-chin.

To scholars in the growing field of children's literature, the best children's book can be as rife with hidden meanings as Shakespeare.

"The notion that it's for children and therefore it's easy and doesn't count really doesn't bear up once you start looking at it," said Mary Harris Veeder, who teaches children's literature at Indiana University Northwest, in Gary.

Wolf describes "Green Eggs and Ham" as Dr. Seuss' most successful resolution of the theme of parental rejection that runs through a number of his works.

In this book, the child-figure persuades the parent-grouch to partake of the green eggs and ham, which represent the child's imagination, and thus wins back the parent's love, Wolf wrote.

Wolf's paper shows just how deeply a children's text can be read. Take, for example, "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins," featuring a hat with a feather pointing up, which sprouts new hats every time Bartholomew removes it at father-figure King Derwin's insistence.

"Some readers may wish to consider the theoretical psycho-sexual implications of a father-figure who is threatened by something on the son-figure that `always pointed straight up in the air,' " Wolf writes.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Would You Eat This with a Grain of Salt?


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?