Morals & Ethics in Cartoons
The Comic that I recall was Hank Ketchum’s Dennis the Menace strip in a newspaper. Although I could not find it to reprint, the memory stays with me perfectly. Alice, Dennis’ mother was folding laundry when Dennis cries out from the kitchen “Mom! Does the peanut butter go on the bread before or after you put it in the toaster?” The next window shows Alice looking a bit troubled as Dennis cries out again. “Never mind” he yells
The laundry gets tossed into the air and Alice makes the turn to go into the kitchen but Dennis calls out again. “Don’t come in here.”
Dennis needs help but doesn’t want to ask. The moral dilemma here is that if he calls his mom to help, then he faces getting into trouble. If she stays out, he might be able to rectify the situation. Although he tried to do something for himself he ended up screwing it up as usual. The mistake is obvious but the problem is subtle. We don’t really know what is happening in the kitchen but it puts our mind to work. Maybe he dropped the peanut butter covered bread on the floor and wants time to clean it up. Maybe he is trying to make his mom a surprise sandwich and doesn’t want her to help or to see. For whatever the purpose, the reader is drawn into the many possibilities of mistakes this young character is capable of. Conclusion
The lesson in the end is that he should have asked for help before getting himself into this situation. I think young readers can see this as well in that they can relate to Dennis because they have been in similar learning experiences. Is this an accurate portrayal of modern life? Unequivocally yes! The amount of troubles my own kids have gotten into and the stories about my nieces and nephews can be inspiration for Hank Ketchum. Seldom is this writer’s work ever over the top. His creativity is aligned with reality which makes the strip even more humorous by drawing us in to a...
References: Sally T. Alders, “Dennis The Menace”; The Kosmix Community
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