How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Materialism

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas:

Book Summary:  

Dr. Seuss is well aware of the societal dilemma of materialism occurring within America. As a result he writes the How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In the story, the Grinch a green, ugly character living in isolation is bitter at the Whos living in the town of Whoville. The Whos are happy with their riches and materialistic things, that Grinch becomes fed up with this inequality and comes down from his mountain of garbage to steal all of the Who’s Christmas presents. In doing so, the story sets up a social clash which results in a radical change within the town forever. The Grinch got all of the Who’s in Whoville to realize the lack of importance of materialistic things, and the overall importance of one another. He dramatically changed the false consciousness that controlled not only Christmas, but the Whos forever.

Example of Materialism residing in How the Grinch Stole Christmas:

Movie Version: 

Money and materialistic objects cannot buy love or happiness, even though the superstructure wants us to think it could. Dr. Seuss presents an epidemic going on within our society that needs to be changed. Seuss recognizes that society “in asserting their materialistic view of humanity…the economic means of production within society-what they call the base-both endangers and controls all human institutions and ideologies,” (Bressler 167). By putting so much importance on materialistic objects and less on one another, we fail to realize our true importance while simultaneously fueling the superstructure’s economic means of production. The amount of stuff we consume differentiates us into different social classes. “By controlling material relationships, the bourgeoisie control a society’s ideology” (Bressler 168). People lose their individual self. They fall victim to losing the true value of themselves and their place within society.

Both Marx and Seuss realize that this false consciousness dominating capitalist America, and argue that it needs to be changed. Through the conflict Dr. Seuss sets up between the Grinch and the Who’s, he is using a metaphor for a much needed social clash, and or class conflict. By having the Grinch, who is of low social status, steal the Whos’ gifts he is presenting a social clash that leads to a radical change in their economic base of their Who society. When the Grinch takes away their presents, at first they were sad.

Example of Grinch’s Social Clash:

Movie Version: 

giphyHowever, following the sadness of the social clash, the Whos came to realize the truth of their false consciousness, or negative ideology, and make a radical change. Their future focus was no longer on materialistic things but instead shifted to celebrating one another, including the Grinch. The Grinch joining in on the celebration and being equally included represents the joining of the social classes. The rich are no longer richer, while the poor are poorer and thus oppressed, as the Grinch was living in isolated wasteland. There is now and forever worker’s paradise, equality put into place by benevolent self-rule, one that is possible in America as well.

Example of Change: Workers Paradise:

Movie Version: 

Christmas came just the same.

Christmas came just the same.


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