The Man Behind the Cat
As a young child, I often despised picking up a book, especially when I was faced with endless rows of black marks spread on a black white canvas, with drawings which failed to assist me in understanding the reading. I had great difficulty, and I was often times forced to read in order to level up to the rest of my class. One sunny day, when the clouds were away, however, my mother handed me a book which piqued my interest.
The book was titled The Cat in the Hat. Immediately, I was perplexed by this strange title. “What is a cat doing in a hat? Why was the cat standing up? I questioned myself. The curiosity overwhelmed me and I couldn’t contain it much longer. I had to discover the mystery of this strange cat. I flipped to the first page and then there was no turning back. My obsession had begun. The appellation, “Dr. Seuss,” has become a name that often evokes fond memories of a cherished childhood. Entrenched in monotony of gray day when, “The sun did not shine. / It was too wet to play,” I only had to look at the grinning face of Dr. Seuss’s famous cat to remind me that there was more to do than wait as time slipped away.
There was something appealing in the simple anapestic tetrameter rhythm, coupled with nonsensical words and illustrations of outlandish creatures that seemed to call out to the vibrant, dynamic imagination of a child, such as myself. Although my childhood hero had been this creator of whimsical words, I had absolutely no knowledge of the man himself. Dr. Seuss. As a child, I had always found that name extremely unusual, but judging from the out-of-ordinary creatures and nonsensical words, I inferred that the man had to be naturally strange.
When assigned this multi-genre project, I decided it was finally time for me to throughly research the individual who had inspired me to open my eyes and see the world in a completely different way. My way. Immediately after I had chosen Dr. Seuss, I browsed through the numerous biographies written by countless authors. Instantly, the book Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel by Judith & Neil Morgan, caught my attention because it paralleled one name which I knew him for and Geisel a name I had never heard of before.
Almost juxtaposed in an oxymoron manner, Dr. Seuss represented the man who amused me with his silly caricatures and coined catchy phrases, but the Geisel part was a mystery, another aspect of the author I cherished, and almost another person. I began reading and I was suddenly immersed in the 384 pages regarding Mr. Geisel’s entire life, from before he was born to the legacy he left. This book explored both the origins of his whimsical books and the impact he had on the publishing industry. In the biography, Dr.
Seuss was portrayed possessing a slightly skewed view of life, but emphasized his devotion to promoting the causes he believed in, including children’s literacy. As a man who truly believed that reading should be fun, he wrote books that he felt were fun to read, and knew that others would enjoy them too. While this biography doesn’t get to the core of the man, it is nevertheless entertaining and good at portraying Dr. Seuss’ perpetual, impish, childlike vision of the world. We, as the readers, see that he was a prankster and ever-young at heart, even into his 80s. Read about Superman and Me
At the same time, we also see a man who was passionate about his work and perfectionist in his sense of color, meter and story development. Nevertheless, he didn’t shy away from heavy topics such as the environment, nuclear war, and aging. However, I still found the book lacking in making a serious attempt to connect the themes of his literature to his experiences and his personality. Therefore, I had to refer to numerous websites and a periodical I found in the library.
The main website I utilized were websites revealing numerous other talents Dr. Seuss had, such as his political cartoons and his political messages. The periodical I used was an obituary from the Chicago Tribune emphasized the reactions of people at the death of a creative genius and the legacy he left behind. I came to learn that with such a story of success it is simply not enough to say, “He graduated from here. He wrote this,” but that I had to analyze the factors that motivated his overwhelming creativity. This was my main thesis and focus throughout my reading, and my annotations were based on the theories I developed based on the facts.
As a child “Ted” showed love for the abnormal and displayed his overactive imagination through his natural exaggeration of ordinary neighborhood events into momentous situations. In Springfield, the breeze carried optimism and a sense of overwhelming adversity. Ted, unfortunately, had to had to encounter adversity with the onset of World War I, exposing him to discrimination. As a result of embarrassment and isolation, he developed a need for privacy which consumed most of his life. Ted looked after his father as the embodiment of perseverance and positive attitude, and he became best friends with his father at an early age.
Throughout high school, he had a formidable memory but was not dedicated. His friends claim that he left the impression of motivation and charisma. Taking an active role in the Jack-O-Lantern, Ted consumed a great deal of time editing and contributing to the cartoons and humorous essays. Through his first published children’s book, And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street Dr. Seuss was revealed to be an undisciplined revolutionary in the area of children’s literature. He emphasized that reading should be fun and doesn’t have to be moralistic.
Over the next three years Dr. Seuss produced three more children’s books, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, The King’s Stilts, and Horton Hatches an Egg. Throughout these books, Dr. Seuss manipulated language, by creating innovative words when the English language fell short. With the onset of World War II, however, he soon quit marketing and went to work as an editorial cartoonist for PM Magazine for which he gained notoriety for his hilarious cartoons ridiculing Hitler. Closely examining his novels, characters, and illustrations, I couldn’t help but notice the importance motion and movement of the body is for each character.
I think the main purpose it served was to encourage the reader to turn the page and continue the tale. Dr. Seuss became inspired at writing the beginning reader for children. I think he honestly believed that children regarded textbook readers as uninspiring and were subsequently turned away from reading as a result. Through The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss managed to give control of learning to read back to children, providing wit, charm, comic verse, and surprise on every page, and by creating children who were not perfect or exemplary.
Each of his works were described as “Seussian” because as an author, I think he offered himself to each of his creations. Theodor Geisel Seuss was able to see the child in himself and always attempted to develop and explore this relationship. Dr. Seuss, with his imaginative mind, continuously interested me as I read through the biography. However, some facts stood out more than others, in terms of completely catching my interest. I was shocked to learn that Dr. Seuss had no children of his own, given his fixation on them.
In fact in an interview his His widow, Audrey Stone, told the BBC he was even “slightly afraid of them. He was always asking ‘what might they do or ask next? ‘ He couldn’t just sit down on the floor and play with them. ” I was also shocked to discover that Dr. Seuss’s first book And I Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected by a total of twenty-seven editors before being published by Vanguard Press in 1937. I found it very amusing that Dr. Seuss would literally put on a “Thinking Cap” before beginning his novels, for ideas.
I was amazed by the fact that both The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham were both written because of a bet, yet they became his two most successful stories. For this multi-genre project I selected five genres which I found appropriate to my purpose of delving into the inner thoughts of this creative genius. I even developed my own distinctive rhymes, basing them of his rhyming patterns. Before each genre, I have provided an explanation of how it dealt with the overall purpose. For this project, I particularally found it difficult to create my visual representation due to my lack of creativity.
However, I attempted to make the best of it. I really like creating the genres, because I had the opportunity to be creative in my writing. I loved how this project didn’t limit us to certain essay topics, and research objects, but allowed us to selectively chose any genre we saw fit. Inspired by Dr. Seuss’s quote, “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try! ”, I dedicated a lot of my time on the genres, so I hope they are fulfilling to the purpose.
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