Imagine, if you will, that you’re minding your own business, sitting in a chair and reading the newspaper, when out of nowhere, a yellow man in a red hat comes riding in on a large purple cat, carrying a sign that says “Sam I Am.”
This is the predicament the protagonist in Dr. Seuss’s classic, “Green Eggs and Ham”, finds himself in. I’ll call him Ned. Let’s dive right in.
Ned is a grumpy looking fellow with a floppy top hat. He calls the little yellow man Sam I Am, when in fact, he should probably be calling him Sam. The sign is just stating that Sam is indeed the person holding the sign. Ned decides right away that he does not like Sam.
So when Sam offers Ned some green eggs and ham, you can imagine Ned’s disgust.
Undeterred, Sam asks him if he would like the strange dish to his left or to his right. Ned declines and walks away. But Sam is persistent. He presents Ned with more dining options, such as in a house with a mouse or in a box with a fox. Furious, Ned storms off, shaking his fist.
He gets hit by a car, which Sam is steering with one hand while dexterously balancing the green eggs and ham in the other. Also joining them are the mouse and the fox, who have nothing better to do than hope to go on a date with Ned.
None of this improves Ned’s mood. For most of the remainder of the book, Ned sits on the hood of the car.
Due to Sam’s distracted driving, the car gets stuck on a tree, then falls onto a train. A train where everyone on it, including the engineer, has their eyes closed. None of this does anything to change Ned’s mind. Then, wouldn’t you know it, a GOAT! pops out of a trapdoor in the car.
The tracks end, and because the engineer has his eyes closed, the train goes off and is headed for a body of water. Luckily, there’s a yellow boat perfectly positioned at the end of the tracks, probably because boat rhymes with goat. The train goes into the boat’s smokestack, and Ned and Sam are launched into the air.
When he’s airborne, Ned goes on a long monologue about he won’t eat green eggs and ham anywhere. He’s repeating everything he’s said before, but Sam hasn’t gotten the message.
Gravity pulls Ned down, and as he’s floating in the water, he decides he’s had enough. He might as well try this green eggs and ham. Maybe that will get Sam off his back.
He tries it. And it’s not so bad after all. He likes it so much that he recants everything he said before about it. He will eat it in a train or a boat, with a mouse or a fox.
And there’s your happy ending.
This story is a parable. Ned represents the regular everyday man or woman or child or raccoon. And that’s why Dr. Seuss never gives this character a name. It makes it more relatable to the reader, regardless of species. The green eggs and ham represent drugs. And Sam is the bad friend that tries to make Ned take drugs.
All the different scenarios — the fox in the box, the mouse in the house, the train, the boat — are symbolic of the different highs that drugs offer. The green eggs and ham stand for not just one drug, but an entire spectrum, hence the fox and mouse and so forth.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why would Dr. Seuss write a book about drugs and finish it with the protagonist falling in love with drugs? Does the greatest children’s author support drug use? Of course not! Think about it. This character, Ned, does not show up in any other Dr. Seuss book. And do you know why? Because drugs.
You have been warned.
Alternate (and drug-free) ending
The moral of the story? Try something new, even if it’s scary to you, and you might just end up loving it. Look at me: I tried reading Twilight, and I hated it.
In Ned’s defense, he’d never met Sam before. When a stranger tells you to eat something you’ve never eaten or even seen before, the best thing to do is to just say no.