Helen and Theodor Geisel moved to New York City, and Geisel’s career flourished there. His fist success was as a cartoonist for Judge magazine. Following a cartoon which jokingly featured a brand of bug spray called “Flit”, the company hired him to do their advertising. His campaign featured cartoons of men facing giant beasts, frantically shouting “Quick, Henry, get the Flit!”. These ads were so popular that Geisel was able to support Helen and himself when other companies, including Standard Oil, hired him to advertise for them as well. This popularity caught the attention of a popular liberal newspaper, called PM, which is where he created his first political cartoons. He worked there ...view middle of the document...
This beat inspired the rhythm that Geisel, under the name Dr. Seuss, would build his first book, “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street”, around. Back in the States, Geisel sent the book to 27 publishing companies before Vanguard Press finally accepted it, due to the help of Geisel’s colleague from college (Levine, 15). After the book was finally published, it was critically acclaimed. One review praised Geisel immensely, saying “They say it’s for children, but better get a copy for yourself and marvel at Dr. Seuss’ impossible pictures and the moral tale of a little boy who exaggerated” (17).
Although he frequently fought racism against blacks and Jews, Geisel’s cartoons depicted negative groups in a racist manner that was very typical of time- the Japanese were portrayed as cats, and the Germans were portrayed as dachshunds (Washington Times). Following World War II, however, Geisel slowly began to open his heart and mind to the people he has loathed so deeply and mocked so openly in his political cartoons. The Japanese, in particular, received a harsher representation in Geisel’s early work, rather than the Germans from which Geisel had descended.
In an attempt to cleanse himself of this prejudice, Geisel visited Japan in 1953. While he was there, he visited Japanese schools, where students’ passion and craving for individuality and identity deeply touched him. They were captivated with this new idea with an appreciation that Geisel had never seen. His hatred of the nation quickly evaporated, and he formed friendships that motivated him to write “Horton Hears a Who!” in honor of the rights of the individual. He even dedicated the book to a professor he met in Japan and formed a platonic bond with- Mitsugi Nakamura (Morgan 45).
The book is the story of a kindly elephant named Horton, who is concerned with the lives of small people, Whos, living on a speck of clover. Because of his superior elephant ears, he is able to hear them when no one else can, and he is persecuted by his peers. Some cruel kangaroos taunt him for being so caring towards something that does not exist, but Horton repeatedly insists that the Whos are people too, regardless of their size.
The public embraced the story as a beautiful depiction of one of Seuss’s repeated themes- the injustice of tyranny and significance of each individual, regardless of any social or financial factors. The Des Moines Register applauded the book as “a rhymed lesson in protecting minorities and their rights” (Baumgatner 53). This theme rang loud and clear, which was Seuss’ intent. He was so dedicated to promulgating this theme that he entrusted his wife, Helen, to edit the novel, although her health was faltering, to assure the clear communication of Seuss’ opinion of oppression and individuality.
Many interpret the Whos’ fears as a reflection of the concerns of the Japanese regarding another bombing. Supporters of this...