The Lorax is Dr Seuss classic children’s story which highlights the folly of unsustainable consumerism using playful rhyming text and surreal illustrations.
The Lorax is one of Dr Seuss’s most well-loved books but it is also probably his darkest, with a complex and serious message, in fact it is really a starting point for debate on the modern economy and the environment.
Here I will mention the main characters and explain who or what they represent.
1. The Lorax:The Lorax is the self-proclaimed spokesman for the environment, “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues”, who points out the environmental consequences of rapid economic growth. At its simplest the Lorax represents environmental and conservation-minded organisations.
2. The Once-ler:The Once-ler is the entrepreneur who gets rich through the unsustainable harvest of Truffula trees in order to manufacture Thneeds; an item for which there is no demand before they are invented. He uses creating wealth and jobs for people as an excuse for his destructive ways but of course these disappear along with the forest. At one point the Once-ler feels bad about his environmental exploitation but reasons that if he doesn’t get rich from the Truffula trees then someone else will. The Once-ler represents consumerism, unsustainable growth, industrialism and disregard for the environment.
3. Bar-ba-Loots:These bear-like creatures are cute, love to have fun and are basically just pleasant forest dwellers. They are forced to miserably leave the Truffula forest once it has been badly degraded and there is not enough food for them any more. The Bar-ba-Loots represent all creatures that cannot continue a viable population because of habitat destruction and degradation.
4. Swommee Swans:These songful birds fly over the Truffula forest until smog from the Once-ler’s Thneed factory chokes them and the Lorax sends them away to a cleaner place. The Sommee Swans represent the consequences of unchecked air pollution.
5. Humming Fish:These fish sing from their pool in the Truffula forest that the Once-ler first finds. However, they are forced to trek overland in order to find clean water after waste from the Thneed factory pollutes their pool. The plight of the Humming Fish represent the consequences of unmitigated water pollution.
6. The Boy:The Once-ler tells his story to a boy who has stumbled through the devastated environment. He is entrusted with the last Truffula seed and represents the hope of the future.
The Lorax really is a wonderful story, despite its dark undertones. The Lorax is another Dr Seuss book that can be enjoyed on many levels and by adults and children alike.
A 3D animated Lorax movie is scheduled for release in 2012, which, hopefully will bring the story to many more people.
You can read about more of my favourite Dr Seuss Characters here; Dr Seuss Characters – My Top Five.