Analyzing A Political Cartoon by Dr. Seuss

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In this cartoon, we see a woman reading aloud about a wolf (named Adolf) eating up children. The wolf is Adolf Hitler. But the woman reading the story (with the words 'America First' written across her chest) says that 'those were Foreign Children and it didn't matter.' The children look horrified. Dr. Seuss was casting Americans' lack of concern in terms of fairy-tale morality, saying that by failing to stop the wolf, Americans were helping the classic villain. By drawing an intimate, domestic scene, he may have been bringing the story closer to home. When we read fairy tales, in the '40s or today, we feel fear for Little Red Riding Hood, and we care if the wolf eats her up -- so why extend less compassion to real, suffering children than we do to a fictional character?

Other cartoons mocked the fact that Americans thought they were safe across the ocean while Hitler was tearing through Europe. One such animation shows a bird with the iconic 'Uncle Sam' hat sitting in a tree. A woodpecker with the Nazi symbol has chopped down nearly every other tree, which bears the names conquered of European countries, and is starting on one last tree, labelled 'England.' The Uncle Sam bird is merely saying 'Ho hum! When he's finished packing down that last tree, he'll quite likely be tired'.

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Dr. Seuss is saying that it's ridiculous to imagine the Nazis will be 'too tired' to come after America after felling the rest of the forest.

This 40's-era political cartoon designed by Dr. Seuss reflects the United States' sentiments towards the tyranny of Adolf Hitler, and the events leading up to the beginning of the Second World War (and arguably, the events that occurred after the initiation of the fighting, but before America's involvement). The picture sets a mood of indifference, perhaps even hostility, towards the Europeans, particularly the nations that were victimized by and assimilated into the Fascist regime. Put, Seuss implies that America cared not in the slightest for those ill-fated nations that were flattened under the Nazi steamroller–countries like Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Austria. The 'America First' sweater hints at the daunting American crisis of the time–the Great Depression. With countless Americans jobless and crippled by poverty and a shattered financial institution, the focus of the U.S.'s efforts were entirely internal, to the point that the rest of the world could be lilt aflame by the Fascists before America would turn its gaze away from itself.

Additionally, the cartoon hints at the anti-foreigner convictions many Americans developed due to the influx of immigrants at Ellis Island in New York, and Angel Island in California. The Depression allowed many Americans to lash out aggressively against minority races, particularly the Eastern Europeans, who had escaped the tyranny of Nazi Germany. The Americans saw these newcomers as an added threat to an already unstable economy, and they would have nothing of them.

Finally, the image may be alluding to America's disinterest in WW2 before the events of Pearl Harbor. Apart from the government's financial backing of Great Britain, Americans, for the most part, would have nothing to do with the war, a conflict taking place far overseas, and having no direct effect on the homeland, harkening back to the 'But those were Foreign Children, and it didn't really matter' comment.

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Analyzing A Political Cartoon by Dr. Seuss. (2020, December 24). WritingBros. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Analyzing A Political Cartoon by Dr. Seuss.” WritingBros, 24 Dec. 2020,
Analyzing A Political Cartoon by Dr. Seuss. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
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