Yesterday I beat The Lorax to death and pulled out symbolism that might have left Dr. Seuss shaking his head. Fun, huh? Let’s do it again.
The more I read the story, the more compassion I feel for the Onceler. Who is he? He’s an inventor. He’s a good inventor. He wants to support his family. He doesn’t think too far into the future, true, but the Lorax’s shrill preaching actually pushes him into a defensive stance from which he cannot retreat. In the face of the Lorax’s name-calling and accusations (that seems to be the only way the Lorax communicates), the Onceler finally issues an ultimatum: he will not stop. That is, until nature itself stops him.
And for myself, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a dual message to The Lorax. First, that we should treat nature with care. That’s your obvious one. That’s the reason you’ll find t-shirts with the Lorax on them for sale on college campuses.
But secondly: when we’re protecting the helpess, we need to move gently. If the Lorax had said to the Onceler, “Excuse me, but if you kill all the trees, then you won’t have any more trees. Once there are no more trees, you can’t sustain your industry. What you need to do is replant trees and harvest them more slowly. Or cut down half a tuft from each tree rather than the whole tree.” Then the Onceler might have listened.
That second message never gets highlighted. The message at the end was that the Onceler was bad and needed to repent. But maybe so did the Lorax.