The 1950s in America were well known for the growing popularity of the television, Elvis Presley, hula hoops, and white picket fences. Despite being called the “Golden Age of America”, this era had quite a lot of under-the-surface issues, including racism, segregation, and paranoia as a result of communism. These issues were unknown or ignored by many mainly because of the social conformity and conservatism in that time period, especially among the upper middle class members of society. In his very short story “Too Many Daves, published in 1961 in his whimsical and colorful book The Sneetches and Other Stories, the world-renowned children’s author Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, tackled the uniform mores of the decade. In this
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Additionally, Seuss is not only mocking the situation through the set up of the story, he is also doing so via comical monikers. Mrs. McCave “often wishes that, when they were born / She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn / (…) / But she didn’t do it, and now it’s too late.” The humorous names in the story, as outlandish as they are, are presented in a positive light through Mrs. McCave’s regret for not calling her children them. By doing so, Dave, the ordinary name she chose is negatively depicted next to even the most humorously peculiar names, thus casting a disapproving light on human conformity. By the means of an unusual storyline and bizarre names, Seuss used satire to put the humdrum in the 1950s in a bad light.
Through Seuss’ use of metaphor and satire, it is evident “Too Many Daves” is actually an allegory that criticizes the conventionality of many American people in the 1950s by expressing the consequences of it. In the story, Mrs. McCave regrets naming all her kids Dave because it “wasn’t a smart thing to do” because when she calls one, “all twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run,” translating into lack of diversity between the American people. Seuss explains how Mrs. McCave “often she wishes that, when they were born,” she had named them all different, more interesting names, but in the end “she didn’t do it, and now it’s too late.” Through this, it is clear Seuss is trying to state that conformity reveals all