Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Green Eggs and Ham: A Fresh Look at a Dark Book

I've been between book edits recently. This can be a productive "down" time if I use it wisely, taking the opportunity to work on the never-ending house projects that seem to be . . . well, never ending. Living in a house built in the 1920s can do that. More often than not, though, I find myself anxious for the next round of edits to begin, whether with a new book or second-round revisions of a current WIP. I would much rather be editing than washing windows or decluttering (as my windows and clutter will attest).

Homeschooling provides me with numerous editing opportunities; the disadvantage to this is that my kids refuse to pay me for my services. Huh. 

In honor of not really having anything new to say, I thought today's blog post could feature my 18-year-old son's most recent English paper . . . kind of like when that Family Circus cartoon guy lets his son, Billy, take over. Without further ado . . .

The Real Green Eggs and Ham
Many consider it to be a normal children’s book, with little purpose other than to entertain with its rhyming, humorous illustrations, et cetera; any deeper meaning that may be found is generally cast aside, or perhaps watered down to a simple moral: “You never know you don’t like something until you’ve tried it.”  This is, of course, not the entire meaning that Seuss intended, and to say so would be an insult to the Doctor’s intentions.  The printed version of Green Eggs and Ham is a very selective telling of a much darker story, of harassment and kidnapping.
In the beginning of the book, a nameless character (assumed to be the protagonist) expresses an extreme dislike for a character named “Sam,” and rightly so, for Sam is notably narcissistic, parading about with a sign which reads, “I Am Sam” and, on the opposite side, “Sam I Am.”
 In the particular incident recorded at the start of the book, Sam has been riding strange animals through the protagonist’s house, waving his signs shamelessly, while the protagonist is minding his own business, attempting to read the morning paper. It is at this point that he expresses his dislike for Sam, and Sam, seeking further attention, inquires as to whether the man enjoys eating green eggs and ham, offering a plate of the stuff.  The protagonist, understandably enough, states that he does not, and refuses the offer. He does not mention a reason for disliking these foods; no doubt he assumed there was no need to do so. I mean, would you eat ham that had sat out long enough to turn green?  And there’s no knowing what was added to the eggs to cause them to be such a color.
Sam, of course, does not accept such a simple answer, and inquires further, asking whether he might enjoy them in a different location. The protagonist explains that the location makes no difference: it is the food to which he objects. Sam, undeterred, continues with his questions, asking if he might like the food better in a house, or perhaps with a mouse. The protagonist explains again that it is not the location, nor the company kept during the meal, but the food itself which puts him off from such a thing.
After this, the story begins to turn dark. Sam asks if the man would eat his food in a box, with a feral canine for company, and the man, not understanding the veiled threat, declines again. It is at this point that Sam abducts the man, throwing him into his car and driving off recklessly, all the while continuing to offer the food. He is quoted as saying, “Eat them! Eat them! Here they are.”
The man continuously begs Sam to let him go and leave him alone, but Sam does not heed his pleas. He drags the man onto a train—no doubt to escape the authorities more quickly—and from the train, to a boat, all the while urging the man to eat the food offered to him. It should also be noted that Sam keeps a live goat in his car, and it may be best not to speculate as to why. Shortly after they board the boat, it goes down—a direct result of Sam’s recklessness—and they are left swimming toward the nearest land mass; yet even while swimming for his life, Sam holds the eggs and rancid ham aloft, telling the insistently refusing man to eat it, because he may like it, if only he would try it.
The man is tired: he has been harassed, threatened, kidnapped and terrorized, and it has been the longest day of his life. He asks Sam if he will be released and left alone if he eats this food which Sam is so obsessively eager to share. Sam tells him that he will let him go if his conditions are met, so the man eats the food and pretends to enjoy it so as not to anger Sam by disliking what is apparently his favorite food. He even goes so far as to thank Sam for putting him through all this. After counseling, the man is able to eat normal ham again; however, he cannot bring himself to try eggs in most forms. 

Sam disappeared shortly after the incident and has not been heard from since.


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