A Review of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
by Gregory Webster
The story has become a familiar one; the story of our times perhaps. A tale of industrial over-exploitation, of an ecosystem devastated, of habitat lost and wildlife (at best) dispersed. A tale of human greed. It is an old story. In this particular case dating back to 1971, when The Lorax by Dr. Seuss was first published, introducing us to the titular creature, ‘who speaks for the trees’.
We hear from the Onceler, an incomer who wandered into a beautiful valley lush with Truffula Trees. His tale is a sad one. He cuts down a beautiful Truffula Tree, weaves a Thneed from its foliage and sells the garment for a tidy $3.98. The Lorax emerges to castigate the Onceler for cutting down the tree but is ignored, and an industry is borne—the ‘biggering’ begins.
Over time the valley is choked with pollution, the forest clear cut, the wildlife gone; and with the carrying capacity of the ecosystem ignored, the industry ultimately collapses. As the last Truffula Tree is felled, the Lorax disappears into the smog, leaving the cryptic word “Unless” on a pile of rocks.
A once mighty entrepreneur, the Onceler is left a lonely recluse surrounded by post-industrial decay of his own making, until a passing boy asks him to tell his story. He finally realises what the Lorax meant by his message—Unless someone cares, nothing will improve—and hands the boy the last Truffula seed.
Over 50 years on, many of us cling on to the hope represented by that last Truffula seed; that the forests may grow mighty again, with our wild brethren returned in abundance, the message of The Lorax inspiring yet more young hearts.