Dr. Seuss-the Butter Battle Book Analysis

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9/16/12
The works of Dr. Seuss have for so long accompanied children growing up, whether it be in school, at the library, or at home. For children, his books represented a land of adventure and wonderful rhyming imagery. But in our childhood years, who knew he had an underlying meaning that meant so much more? As a young adult today, I am now cognizant of Dr. Seuss’ hidden agenda and vow to implore this man’s exertions of bringing awareness to the problems America was facing not only nationally, but globally as well. In Dr. Seuss’ book, The Butter Battle Book, he attempts to “open the eyes of the world” by using interpretation, symbolism, and rhyme scheme as an effective tool for achieving peace.

In Dr. Seuss’ The Butter Battle Book, he manages to provide an entertaining story for young children while also imprinting an important lesson that can be appreciated by both kids and adults. As “out there” and silly as his stories sometimes appear to be, they all leave a lasting impression on the audience that can both mold youths to adapt to these morals, and cajole adults to reflect on their outlook of life. In The Butter Battle Book (TBBB), Dr. Seuss is clearly portraying the social issues that were arising between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War. The conflict between the Yooks (Americans) and the Zooks (Russians) seems so trivial but can easily relate to the Nuclear Arms Race that was mainly fueled by national pride and egocentricity. Dr. Seuss was just pointing out how silly the USSR and the U.S was being by comparing it to “which side of the bread the butter should be spread”.

Dr. Seuss attempts to achieve peace by passively pointing out the flaws between both parties and demonstrating that neither side should have to go to such extraordinary lengths to prove themselves. However, one weakness in his book was the relaying message some readers may have took from the story. For some, it may have seemed like: when faced with a threat, weapons are the best way to retaliate. For instance, in TBBB, the Zooks and Yooks did not even attempt to peacefully work out their differences; they just immediately took to making better, faster, stronger weapons that would keep the other sleeping with one eye open. The story also gives children a bad impression of adults because adults are the ones who are suppose to make the right decisions and ensure our safety. Yet, here they are creating bombs that will destroy not only the lives and homes of others, but perhaps even our own.

One aspect of the TBBB that kept Seuss from getting his message of peace across effectively was the cliffhanger ending. The story ends with the grandfather saying, “be patient, we’ll see. We will see…” Instead of leaving the end result up to the reader to interpret, he should have given it a realistic and proper ending that would result in the peace he wanted for the real world. If Dr. Seuss had given his personal take on how the situation should have been resolved, maybe it would have taught the world a lesson on how the conflict could have been handled. Seuss’ own story didn’t have a peaceful ending, so why was he striving for peace in the real world? Although he was being realistic with the ending message that “there aren’t always happy endings”, the audience cannot possibly believe in his idea if he doesn’t believe in peace himself enough to come up with a peaceful resolution for the Zooks and Yooks. Another flaw of TBBB, is that it promotes violence to a young audience. Although Dr. Seuss is merely trying to give his interpretation of the Nuclear Arms Race, he is simultaneously implying that “weapons and violence” are necessary in order to maintain peace and order. But will peace ever be achieved if nuclear threats keep being built? In order to successfully achieve peace, Dr. Seuss could have mirrored the conflicts between the Soviet Union and the United States, but altered the story slightly to have a tranquil and amicable...
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