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Nobody Gets Off the Bus:
The Viet Nam Generation Big Book

Volume 5 Number 1-4
March 1994



Texts made available by the Sixties Project, are generally copyrighted by the Author or by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., all rights reserved. These texts may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. These texts may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. A few of the texts we publish are in the public domain. For information on a specific text, contact Kalí Tal. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is dedicated to using electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.




 The Cat and the Hat
as Viet Nam War Text

Tim Driscoll

Whenever Dan and I go see a new movie or read a new book, we're always sure that, one way or another, it relates to the Viet Nam war. We thought we were hung up on this until we heard from Tim Driscoll, whose analysis of Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat as Viet Nam war text so far exceeded our wildest imagination that we were forced to tip our hats in tribute to the greatest interpretive stretch we'd yet come across. --Kalí

I never heard of the good Doctor Seuss until my later years. When we got a kid, my wife got the Dr. Seuss books.

The Cat in the Hat starts out with two kids in a house on a monsoon day. (The kids represent the American People.) And the kids were in the house by themselves, and they were full of boredom because of all the rain. (This represents the American People during the Ike years.) And also there is this goldfish in a fish bowl. (The goldfish represents the collective conscience of America.) And in pops this cat with a hat. The cat is very adventuresome. (Now we are moving into the 1960s--the cat is actually the American Government.) Well the cat (Government) is trying to talk the kids (the American People) into playing some games which will mess up the house. But the goldfish (conscience) is yelling, telling the kids to get the damn cat out of the house before they get in trouble. (It's right about here that the conscience basically turns into the War Protester.) So the cat does start playing all these games and the house does get very messed up. (That's the Viet Nam war). And the goldfish gets all beat up (just like the hippie peace lovers). And then there is this part where the cat is yelling for everyone to look at him because he can hold all these things at once--cup, milk, cake, books, rake, goldfish, toy ship, toy man, red fan--and bounce the ball at the same time. (Toy ship, toy man, red fan, get it?) But then the cat fell and everything fell all over and made a big mess. (That was the Tet Offensive of 1968.) And the goldfish said, "Do I like this? Oh, no! I do not. This is not a good game." (See, the goldfish turns into Cronkite at this point.) The rest of the book is pretty anticlimactic and predictable: the house gets more messed up and the tricks continue, a couple of new characters are introduced--Thing One and Thing Two. (They represent the post-Viet Nam era American Presidents.) But then the goldfish starts yelling that the mother is on her way in. (Mother is actually the Kuwaitian Adventure.) So the cat cleans up the house and everything ends OK. (Everything ends okay except for the fucking kids. They get fucking PTSD.) Actually, the book was published in 1975, so you can see what a visionary Dr. Seuss was.

And Sally and I did not know what to say. Should we tell her the things that went on there that day? Should we tell her about it? Now what should we do? Well... what would you do if your mother asked you?

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