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The Unsettling Message of Green Eggs and Ham

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, Aug. 19, 2019

Years ago while living abroad, I heard an expat mom explain to her kids that it was good to try new foods just like in Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss!

For anyone unfamiliar with the red covered book filled with rhymes, Green Eggs and Ham is a story where an unnamed main character is followed around town by the unrelenting, and extremely pushy Sam I Am. The book follows the main character and Sam I Am through all sorts of wacky places where the main character repeatedly tells Sam I Am that he is not interested in eating his strange green food and Sam I Am continuously insists on offering his food even after being rejected. By the end of the story, Sam I Am has worn the main character down to a point where he finally accepts the green eggs and ham and realizes he actually enjoys it.

But why did the main character ever have to reach the point where he finally succumbed to doing something he did not want to do originally?

Many times in life, there are pushy people who like to weave their way into another person’s comfort bubble, just as Sam I Am did to the main character. In most cases, a polite, “no thank you” usually works and it is enough to send Sam I Am types along their merry way and onto their next target. However, this story misses that mark and shows what happens when “no” is not a strong enough deterrent and allows Sam I Am to keep proceeding even when he is unwelcome.

So going back to the expat mom’s message to her children to try new foods and keep an open mind when introduced to new things, I would say to use another story other than Green Eggs and Ham because Sam I Am completely ignored boundaries and all the main character’s requests for him to stop offering him the eggs and ham.

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kawaiidaigakusei at 10:12PM, Aug. 25, 2019

I want to personally like/love/react to every comment on here. @usedbooks, naming Sam I Am as the first villain in your childhood brings me to tears! @ayesinback yes, how can he judge it before he even tries it? @KAM, Nice rhyming @bravo, yes, green eggs and ham can not be any worse than crisco covered meats in an air tight bag.

AmeliaP at 5:08PM, Aug. 21, 2019

"In most cases, a polite, “no thank you” usually works and it is enough to send Sam I Am types along their merry way and onto their next target." And sometimes don't, and it's creepy XD

hushicho at 4:37PM, Aug. 19, 2019

This is kind of purposely twisting the narrative, which was supposed to be a simple lesson teaching readers not to just reject something without trying it, which is a good lesson for people to learn. But if you want to go into detail, the main character also never once explained in any detail or went to any length to let Sam know why he didn't like green eggs and ham. This is because he never had any reason to dislike that and, it turned out, was very fond of the dish, once he tried it. That's how the story is written. It wasn't someone who tried the dish and disliked it exactly as he thought, so it's nothing to do with that particular circumstance. And speaking as a near-lifelong vegetarian, I understand the thought and the concern of an uncommon perspective, but it still doesn't really change the story and it doesn't make it somehow a story about an evil nasty villain not respecting boundaries. You wouldn't have a story if it went the other way, in any case.

usedbooks at 4:33PM, Aug. 19, 2019

There's also a difference between a friend/coworker/relative making a suggestion to you and a stranger doing it. Even without the weird drug pusher vibe and force-his-tastes-on-you motives, some guy you just met following you all over the place is beyond creepy. It's funny in a twisted cartoon way but shouldn't be used for moral messages. "Take weird food from strangers, kids! Especially if they are super insistent!"

ayesinback at 12:22PM, Aug. 19, 2019

There's a fine line between pushy and persistent. I saw that persistence caused a stubborn person who had no first hand knowledge about the epicurean delights of green eggs and ham finally loosen his grip on his preconceived notion and give it a try. And I also didn't understand why there were two individuals pictured when Sam was clearly struggling with himself. I preferred Hop On Pop, which was more up my alley.

usedbooks at 5:14AM, Aug. 19, 2019

Basically, the book taught me to tell people what they want to hear to make them leave me alone. And it works. So helpful lesson, I guess?

usedbooks at 5:07AM, Aug. 19, 2019

This book spoke to me because I hated several common foods as a kid, and people were pushy. I even got punished for not eating things. And no, I never liked the yucky food when I tried it. I was STILL forced to try again. (In fact, I still, as an adult, hate most of it to a point of gagging and nausea.) So Sam I Am was the first villain I knew. And I always assumed the protagonist was lying at the end because, like the people in my life, if he said it tasted bad, Sam I Am would have just continued harassing him to try it again in some other way (and there were a lot of ways he could have been forced to try it again and hate it).

KAM at 4:09AM, Aug. 19, 2019

I tried green eggs and ham, now pukin' my guts, I am!

bravo1102 at 2:11AM, Aug. 19, 2019

And if the main character had tried the Green Eggs and hand the moment Sam I Am had appeared would the hard sell have been necessary? That's the point. Try it, you might like it so this way you don't try the patience of those around you. Supposedly, something akin to this actually happened as a practical joke by some co-workers including Ted Giesel. At one point he did work for Warner Brothers along with such eccentrics as Tex Avery and Chuck Jones. And when you actually line up for chow and the ham and eggs look a little green, try it. You get sick you can go on sick call and get out of a rainy day of training. If not at least you'll be fed without the stomach growling until whenever there's a moment to inhale that inedible MRE you ended up getting because it was the end of the case and no one ever takes the tuna casserole.

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