‘Fox in Socks‘ 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. Like many others written by Dr. Seuss, this book is considered to be one of the best-selling children’s books of all time.
Explore 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 here.
Structure and Form
‘Fox in Socks,’ like most of Dr. Seuss’s poetry, was published as a short children’s book. There are around 150 lines of verse, depending on the version. They range in length dramatically from one word to around ten. Seuss uses rhyme throughout this piece, but due to the verse’s scattered nature, there is not one identifiable pattern that lasts throughout the entire poem. It 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.
Seuss makes use of several literary devices in ‘Fox in Socks,’ these include but are not limited to:
- Alliteration: when the poet repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “Bim brings Ben broom.” In combination with rhyme, this technique is responsible for the rhythm that’s created in the poem. It is also what makes the tongue twisters, so fun to read. Readers can also find examples of sibilance, such as “Sue’s socks.”
- Enjambment: occurs when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point—for example, the transition between lines one, two, three, and four.
- Anaphora: the repetition of the same word at the beginning of multiple lines. For example, “Ben” and “Bim” in the last section of the poem.
- Repetition: can be seen through the use and of the same words, phrases, ideas, and structures in a poem. For example, Knox attempts to get the Fox to leave him alone. He uses “please, sir” multiple times.
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 introduces some of the primary imagery that will make up the bulk of the poem. These include 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, while 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 of multiple lines, usually in succession but not always. For instance, “Chicks with bricks” and “Let’s 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 “the.” 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 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 lean 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.
Readers who enjoyed ‘Fox in Socks’ should also consider reading some of Dr. Seuss’s other poems. For example:
- ‘The Cat in the Hat‘ – is perhaps Seuss’s best-known poem. It follows the chaotic “fun” an anthropomorphized cat in a hat brings to two children’s lives.
- ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!‘ – is an uplifting poem that celebrates “you” future.
- ‘The Lorax‘ – is one of Dr. Seuss’s most popular books. It follows the main character, the Lorax, who speaks for the trees and stands up against environmental destruction.
- ‘Green Eggs and Ham‘ – is one of the best-selling children’s books of all time and follows two friends, Sam-I-Am and Guy-Am-I. The entire bok only uses fifty unique words.
Importance of Dr. Seuss’s Poetry
Dr. Seuss, born Theodore Geisel, is considered to be one of the most influential and widely-read children’s authors of all time. He wrote and illustrated more than 60 books, selling over 600 million copies which were translated into more than 20 languages before he passed away. Seuss wrote about topics children loved using memorable images and nonce words and spoke on topics of morality. Each of his novels focuses on an important theme a young reader would benefit from being exposed to. For example, caring for the planet, belief in one’s self, trying new things and making friends. Today, his work is loved by readers, young and old.