The Lorax is a children's book, written by Dr. Seuss and first published in 1971. It chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler. As in most of Dr. Seuss works, most of the creatures mentioned are original to the book.
The book is commonly recognized as a fable concerning industrialized society, using the literary element of personification to give life to industry as the Once-ler (whose face is never shown in any of the story's illustrations or in the television special) and to the environment as the Lorax. It has become a popular metaphor for those concerned about the environment.
A boy (representing the reader) comes to a desolate corner of town to visit a being called the Once-ler (who is never shown throughout the book except for his arms and legs) and learn about the Lorax. After the Once-ler receives payment from the boy (consisting of 15 cents, a nail, and the shell of a great, great, great grandfather snail) he recounts on how he first arrived where they now stand, back then a beautiful forest of Truffula Trees, colorful woolly trees that were spread throughout the area and supported various fantastical creatures.
As the Once-ler arrives in the area with his horse, he takes in the sights. There are Bar-ba-Loots (resembling bears) that frolic about and eat fruit from the trees, Swomee Swans that fly through the air and sing as they go, and Humming Fish that go swimming about in the ponds and humming as they swim. But the Once-ler is only interested in the beauty of the Truffula Trees. Taking a few samples of the Truffula tree, he decides to set up shop on the spot.
Enamored by these gorgeous trees, the Once-ler chops one down and uses its foliage to knit a "Thneed", an odd-looking but versatile garment that he insists "everyone needs." A strange creature called the Lorax suddenly emerges from the stump and protests, saying that he "speaks for the trees, as the trees have no tongues," but the Once-ler ignores him and, spurred by greed and the success of his first sale, begins a huge Thneed-making business that brings in his whole family, much to the Lorax's distress.
As the Once-ler's small shop grows into a factory and new equipment is being made to keep up with the demand for more Thneeds, signs of damage to the Truffula Forest become evident to the Lorax. The Lorax first complains to the Once-ler that the Truffula trees, being chopped down, were also the food source of the Bar-ba-Loots, who are now facing a terrible food shortage and a disease called "the Crummies because of gas and no food in their tummies." To save them, the Lorax sends them off to find another food source. At first, the Once-ler only shows a little remorse, but still focuses on expanding his business.
Soon, the Once-ler's Thneed-making business has expanded tenfold and now uses delivery trucks to take out the shipments. The Lorax eventually comes back complaining to the Once-ler that the factories are belching out so much "smogulous smoke" that it is giving the Swomee Swans sore throats, leaving them unable to sing. After the Lorax sends them off, he also complains to the Once-ler about his machinery making goo called "Gluppity Glup" and "Shloppity Shlop," and how what remains is being dumped into the ponds where the Humming Fish live, and leaving them unable to hum.
The Once-ler, however, still dismisses the Lorax's pleadings, and goes so far as to berate the Lorax on berating his business. The Lorax's complaints, however, prove to be true just as the last Truffula Tree gets chopped down. With no more trees to chop and no more Thneeds to make, the Thneed factories close down and the Once-ler's family departs, leaving the Once-ler alone with the Lorax, who, looking back at the Once-ler sadly, picks himself up by the "seat of his pants" and floats away through a hole in the smog, leaving behind only a small pile of rocks with the word "UNLESS" inscribed into them.
The Once-ler alone remains, gazing upon the disintegrating ruins of his factories over the years and contemplating the meaning of this last message, perhaps with a sense of remorse. In the end, the Once-ler gives the boy the very last Truffula seed for him to plant and take care of, potentially regrowing the forest and resulting in the Lorax's return.
The Lorax has sparked notable controversy. In 1988, a small school district in California kept the book on a reading list for second graders, though some in the town claimed the book was unfair to the logging industry. Terri Birkett, a member of a family-owned hardwood flooring factory, authored The Truax, offering a logging-friendly perspective to an anthropomorphic tree known as the Guardbark. This book was published by NOFMA, National Wood Flooring Manufacturers' Association. Just as in The Lorax, the book consists of a disagreement between two people. The logging industry representative states that they have efficiency and re-seeding efforts. The Guardbark, a personification of the environmentalist movement much as the Once-ler is for big business, refuses to listen and lashes out. But in the end, he is convinced by the logger's arguments. However, this story was also criticized for what were viewed as skewed arguments, particularly a "casual attitude toward endangered species" that answered the Guardbark's concern for them. In addition, the book's approach as a more blatant argument, rather than one worked into a storyline, was also noted.
The line "I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie" was removed more than fourteen years after the story was published after two research associates from the Ohio Sea Grant Program wrote to Seuss about the clean-up of Lake Erie. The line remains in the DVD release of the special.
On April 7, 2010, Amnesty International USA commented in their blog on the story of the book that "amazingly parallels that of the Dongria Kondh peoples of Orissa" in India, "where Vedanta Corporation is wrecking the environment of the Dongria Kondh people."
The animated musical television special The Lorax, produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, directed by Hawley Pratt and starring Eddie Albert and Bob Holt, was based on the book. It was first aired by CBS on February 14, 1972. The line about Lake Erie was spoken by one of the Humming-Fish as they marched out of the river at the foot of the Once-ler's factory. It remains in DVD releases of the show, even though the line was later removed from the book.
On July 28, 2009, it was announced that Universal Studios and Illumination Entertainment are teaming up to produce a 3-D, CGI film based upon the book. It will be co-directed by Chris Renaud, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, with Paul & Daurio writing the script. Mike Fleming writes in Variety that "the picture is targeted for a March 2, 2012 release, which falls on the birthday of Dr. Seuss, who died in 1991."
- ↑ "California: Chopping Down Dr. Seuss". Time. October 02, 1989.
- ↑ "Truax". Terri Birkett. National Wood Flooring Manufacturers' Association (NOFMA) Environmental Committee. (PDF).
- ↑ http://www.pcdf.org/meadows/truax.html
- ↑ http://www.aadl.org/node/9624
- ↑ "Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel : a biography". Judith & Neil Morgan. Random House. 1995. ISBN 978-0679416869.
- ↑ Acharya, Govind (2010-04-07). "They Are the Lorax, They Speak for the Trees". Amnesty International USA. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
- ↑ The Lorax at the Internet Movie Database
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Mike Fleming (2009-07-28). "Lorax just what the doctor ordered for Uni". Variety. Archived from the original on 2009-08-01. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
- ↑ Breznican, Anthony (2010-10-25). "First look: Danny DeVito will stump for trees in 3-D 'Lorax'". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-10-26.