‘Fox in Socks’ by Dr. Seuss was published in June of 1965 by Random House. In it, Seuss creates outrageous characters, scenes, and images that are meant to catch and keep the attention of a young reader. This book, like many others written by Dr. Seuss, is considered to be one of the best-selling children’s books of all time.
Explore Fox in Socks
Summary of Fox in Socks
The story focuses on two characters, a Fox and a yellow creature called Knox. The former brings out all sorts of tongue twisters throughout the poem and tries to challenge Knox into saying them. He isn’t up to the task and continually complains about how hard they are. By the end of the poem, Knox sticks Fox in a bottle and comes up with a rhyme of his own.
You can read the full poem Fox in Socks here.
Poetic Techniques in Fox in Socks
This poem leans heavily on rhyme and half-rhyme in order to create the entrancing and entertain rhythm throughout its pages. These are seen at the ends of lines as well as within them, something called internal rhyme. There are also numerous poetic techniques at work in the poem. These include but are not limited to alliteration, enjambment, anaphora, sibilance, and repetition. The latter is the most obvious of these techniques and it encompasses several of the others. It can be seen through the use and reuse of specific images, words, phrases, and structures.
Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same sound. For example, “bricks” and “blocks” in the first lines of the poem. This technique is responsible, in combination with rhyme, for the rhythm that’s created in the poem. It is also what makes the tongue twisters so fun to read.
Analysis of Fox in Socks
Please, sir. I don’t like this trick, sir.
My tongue isn’t quick or slick, sir.
I get all those ticks and clocks, sir,
mixed up with the chicks and tocks, sir.
I can’t do it, Mr. Fox, sir.
In the first lines of ‘Fox in Socks’ the speaker bins my introducing some of the primary imagery that’s going to make up the bulk of the poem. These include that of foxes, boxes, bricks, and something that Seuss creates called a “Knox”. The latter is a yellow anthropomorphic character that Seuss used for this specific story. These first lines also bring in some of the most important words of the story, those that a young reader is meant to familiarize themselves with, box, brick, clock, chicks, all of which rhyme, at least to an extent.
Seuss immediately utilizes a technique that appears in all of his books/poems/stories, repetition. It is seen through the use and reuse of images, ideas, or words/phrases. In this case, all of those occur. The words “Knox” and “Fox” are used most often as the two characters address and describe one another. The fox creates increasingly complex tongue twisters, meant to challenge and entertain the young readers, will Knox complains about their difficulty.
Another technique that can be seen prominently within these lines is anaphora. It is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning go multiple lines, usually in succession but not always. For instance, “Chicks with bricks” and “Lets do tricks”.
I’m so sorry, Mr. Knox, sir.
Here’s an easy game to play.
Here’s an easy thing to say….
Nose hose goes some.
Crow’s rose grows some.
The next section of the poem brings with it the growing complexity of the tongue twisters. Seuss makes them harder to say by making use of a technique known as sibilance. Sibilance is similar to alliteration but it is concerned with soft vowel sounds such as “s” and “th”. This kind of repetition usually results in a prolonged hissing or rushing sound. It is often used to mimic another sound, like water, wind, or any kind of fluid movement. A reader can look to lines such as “Who sees who sew whose new socks, sir?” as an example. It’s right after this line that Knox declares that that tongue twister is much too hard.
There are numerous examples of how these simple words come together to form nonsense sentences and entire stanzas of text. Seuss often combines words into sentences that have to real meaning other than the pleasure of the sounds when reading out loud. This is just one more reason that poems/stories such as this one, which leans so heavily on rhyme, should be read aloud.
I hate this game, sir.
This game makes my tongue quite lame, sir.
Mr. Knox, sir, what a shame, sir.
Mr. Fox, sir,
I won’t do it.
I can’t say.
I won’t chew it.
Very well, sir.
Step this way.
We’ll find another game to play.
There are more examples of repetition in the next stanzas and lines of the story. The character Knox continues to push back against Fox. He tells him that these tongue twisters are no fun and make his “tongue quite lame”. But the Fox ignores him and continues on, now using words that start with “G” and “B”.There are numerous coined words in this section such as “Bim”. Despite Fox saying that he’s going to find something that Knox can say, he just comes up with more complex rhymes and alliterative phrases.
Bim brings Ben broom.
Ben brings Bim broom.
Ben bends Bim’s broom.
Bim bends Ben’s broom.
Ben’s bent broom breaks.
Bim’s bent broom breaks.
Now wait a minute, Mr. Socks Fox!
When a fox is in the bottle where the tweetle beetles battle
with their paddles in a puddle on a noodle-eating poodle,
THIS is what they call…
…a tweetle beetle noodle poodle bottled paddled
muddled duddled fuddled wuddled fox in socks, sir!
Fox in socks, our game is done, sir.
Thank you for a lot of fun, sir.
In this last section of ‘Fox in Socks,’ there is an increase in the length of the phrases Fox wants Knox to say. He also brings in words starting with “L” and “T” such as “Luke,” “lakes,” “tree” and “three”. Other repeated words in this section include “Freezy,” a meaningly coined word used to describe the breeze, and “blibber,” part of the phrase “blibber blubber”.
Fox tries to discuss beetles with Knox, as well as beetle fights, and bottles and “paddles” and “puddles”.
The story comes to an end with Knox putting fox inside a bottle and then coming up with a rhyme of his own, “a tweetle beetle noodle poodle bottled paddled / muddled duddled fuddled wuddled fox in socks”. Knox then thanks the fox for the game and goes on about his day.