Analysis of Where the Wild Things Are

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Where the Wild Things Are, a children’s book written by Maurice Sendak, is not only directed to young children, but has an underlying message that is intended for older generations to receive. This message, only used to enhance the meaning of the story, describes the addiction for one to have power and be in control. As the story goes on, the realization sets in that maybe the desire for power is not the best, at all times. The use of oppression becomes evident in this story, through Max, the main character, as he strives to control everything around him. Maurice Sendak uses repetition and parallelism in the imagery and text of Where the Wild Things Are to show Max’s progression to assume power and eventually discard it.

In the very first pages of the story, Max’s desire for power is rather distinct. His actions and words show his longing to be a leader. What Max fails to realize is that his actions cause him to become distant from the real world, and ultimately, Max abuses his power and resorts to oppression. Max’s harsh misbehavior is evidence that he wants to be in charge. Max’s behavior first changes when he puts on his wolf suit and starts acting as a fearless leader. The tall, pointy ears of the wolf suit act as Max’s crown. He chases his dog around the house, trying to be his king. As these things are happening, Max also carries a fork, acting as his scepter for the ability to control his subjects. Like all great rulers that have an elaborate place of residence to reside in, Max uses his creativity and nails a blanket to the wall, creating a tent for himself. His mother, trying to keep her young child under control, sends her son to his room without dinner for yelling at her and acting out, simply trying to teach him a lesson. Little does Max’s mother know, that when she sends Max to his room, she is putting a stop to Max’s wild imagination, causing him to desire power, even more. Not only does Max’s behavior develop as the story goes on, but the images surrounding him slowly change as well. The pictures in the story start out small, with white frames encompassing them. As Max begins to lose control of his behavior and imagination, these white frames become smaller and smaller. Once Max’s imagination has taken him to Where the Wild Things Are, the white borders are completely gone and Max’s room has made a full transformation. Max has finally left reality, in search of a land to rule and call his own.

As the story goes on, Max continues to exercise power through his imagination. He has completely left the realm of reality in search of a place to control. Once Max’s room first changes, due to his imagination, his own personal boat arrives to take him away. The rest of his room becomes a wild jungle, where the wild things live. These large creatures, known as the wild things, inhabit Max’s room and soon become the perfect subjects for Max to take control of. First, Max has little interaction with the wild things, but soon, he takes full control. Max yells at the wild things, ordering them to do what he pleases. This shows that Max is displacing the anger he feels at his mother for yelling at him, onto the wild things. Max then begins “the wild rumpus,” an act in which all of the wild things and Max partake in. All of the creatures and Max are simply playing around in an unmannered form, causing trouble. This trouble continues due to the lack of adult guidance and the abundance of free imagination. While the rumpus is taking place, again the illustrations change to fit the scenes. Since Max has become the leader, and gained the power he wanted, he has become the focal point of each picture. The wild things constantly have their eyes on Max, and imitate each of his movements. Max has instilled in the creatures that he is their formal leader and they must do as he does. Max continues to project his behavior on the wild things and rules them, as if he has been their ruler for all of time. Not only have the pictures...
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