Dr. Seuss

How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a masterly written illustrated poem of Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, commonly known as Dr.Seuss. It is a beautifully written story in verse. The poem talks about how the ‘Grinch’, who lived in loneliness, realizes the true value of Love and Belonging. This story was first published as a book in 1957 by Random House. Though the poem looks like a story for children it is the poet’s criticism on the commercialization of Christmas. ‘Grinch’ and ‘Whos’ symbolizes the people who believe Christmas is all about gifts and those who give importance to love and care.

How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr.Seuss


Summary of How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The poem “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is about the Christmas loving people of Whoville and a ‘Grinch’ who hated Christmas for no known reason. As the poem progress, it plans to spoil Christmas for the people. Ultimately, it decides to steal the things associated with Charismas. Eventually, he sneaks into all of their homes and steals their meals, gifts, and including their Christmas decorations. Happily taking his loots up the Mt. Crumpit, he hears a sound coming from Who-ville. It wasn’t a sound of sorrow, as the Grinch expected but of celebration. That’s when he realized that Christmas is not about the material things but the love and togetherness. The moment he realized that he turned on his wheels and joined the Who-ville people in their celebration.


Analysis of How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Dr. Seuss’s poem “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is written in rhyming couplets. With the rich use of imagery, it is not a simple story for kids. It contains a deeper message to the materialistic world that money is not everything.


Lines 1 – 8

Every Who Down in Whoville Liked Christmas a lot…
( . . . )

. . . that his heart was two sizes too small.

The first eight lines of the poem ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas’ describe the contrasting nature of the people of Whoville and the Grinch who lived in the caves. When the Whovilles liked Christmas, he hated it for no reason. Even the poet says that neither he nor anyone knows the exact reason. The poet thinks of some possible reasons like ‘his head wasn’t screwed on just right’ or ‘his shoes were too tight’ or ‘his heart was two sizes too small’. But the most valid reason he thinks could be the size of his heart. Here, ‘two sizes too small’ indicates that he has the smallest heart according to the measurement of ‘Whoville’.


Lines 9 – 16

Whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes,
( . . . ) he snarled with a sneer,
“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”

The poet continues further about how the Grinch thought of Christmas in these lines. Here, the poet moves from the general introduction to the present, to a Christmas Eve. The Grinch observes the ‘Whos’ warm lighted windows from his cave with a ‘sour, Grinchy frown’.  He knew very well that the people would be busy decorating their house for the next day is ‘Christmas’. It looks like, just the thought of it irritates the ‘Grinch’ for it ‘snarls with a sneer’.


Lines 17 – 24

Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
( . . . ) NOISE!

These lines give a clear picture of the Grinch’s restlessness about Christmas. The poet’s use of ‘his Grinch fingers nervously drumming’ specifies the Grinch’s mindset and how desperate he is to stop Christmas. He tells himself that he must find a way to stop it from coming. It looks like the Grinch doesn’t like the rapture that comes with celebrations either. He is indifferent to the girls and boys rushing to get their presents and worried about the noise they create. The poet capitalizes ‘NOISE’ to indicate how oblivion the Grinch is to happiness.


Lines 25 – 29

Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
( . . . )
Which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least!

These lines tell us the other thing the Grinch hate about Christmas. After the noise, it is the feast that the Grinch had to put up with the ‘Whos’ Christmas. Once the Whos receives their presents, they would feast on the ‘Who-pudding’ and the rare ‘Who-roast beast’. This feasting of the ‘Whos’ is not something that the Grinch likes. It shows that he doesn’t like to be in groups for he lives in solidarity in the caves.


Lines 30 – 35

And THEN They’d do something He liked least of all!
( . . . ) SING!

These lines show that the ‘Whos’ had the strange habit of coming together for singing after the feast. He says that everyone in the place would sing with the Christmas bells ringing. Here, ‘the tall and the small’ symbolizes the Social position and Class. It is evident that people do not have any discrepancies among them but live in harmony. The poet here highlights the happiness that comes with unity and equality.


Lines 36 – 41

And the more the Grinch thought of this Who Christmas Sing,
( . . . )


The poet reveals about the duration of which the Grinch was putting up with the Who Christmas. Now, he is totally exhausted and decided to ‘Stop’ the Christmas from coming. That’s when he gets an idea. The poet says that he got a ‘wonderful, Awful’ idea. Juxtaposition is used here by the poet to validate the quality of the Grinch’s idea. Though it is a wonderful idea, nothing good will come out of it.


Lines 42 – 56

“I know just what to do!” The Grinch laughed in his throat.
( . . . )
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care.

The lines from 42 to 56 of the poem “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” illustrate how the Grinch gets ready to execute its plan. The Grinch dresses like a Santa Claus, turns his old dog Max into a makeshift reindeer to pull the sleigh. He gives himself the credit of looking like ‘Saint Nick’ – a saint of the 4th Century who is later coming to know as Santa Claus for his Philanthropic nature. Being excited about his set up, he starts towards the village. Whereas in the Whoville, the people were all asleep without knowing the Grinch’s plan.


Lines 47 – 76

When he came to the first little house on the square.
( . . . )
Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.

Finally, in these lines, the secret plan of the ‘Grinchy Santa’ is revealed. Yes! He has come to steal the things connected with Christmas. He comes to the first house of the village and gets in through the Chimney. It is the belief that Santa Claus will enter through the Chimney and leave gifts. But, this Santa has come not to give but to take. He starts with the ‘Stockings’ and takes one after one, the ‘Pop guns! And bicycles! . . . . . . . Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!’ whatever he felt as associated with Christmas. He then stuffed his bags with ‘Who-pudding! …. roast beast! …. cleaned out that icebox’, even the last of Who-hash. He did everything with glee for he thought that the toys and food are everything about Christmas.


Lines 77 – 97

“And NOW!” grinned the Grinch, “I will stuff up the tree!”
( . . . )
Then he went up the chimney, himself, the old liar.

The lines from 77 to 97 of the poem “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” show how greedy and cunning the Grinch is, in stopping the Christmas, and the people’s celebration. He didn’t stop with the ‘Toys’ and ‘Food’ but even decides to take away the Christmas tree and logs they kept for fire. Taking away the ‘logs’ indicates that he is not only taking away their fun but also their comfort in winter. While taking away the tree he is confronted by a little kid but he very smartly fools her with his ‘fib’. It once again refers to the size of his heart ‘two sizes too smaller’ for anyone with a little love could not cheat a kid. But, this Grinch without even the slightest of remorse goes up the Chimney.


Lines 98 – 106

On their walls, he left nothing but hooks and some wire.
( . . . )

The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!

The Grinch left nothing but takes away everything that means ‘Christmas’ from the houses of the ‘Whos’. ‘Leaving crumbs Much too small’ symbolizes the size of the heart, which is too small, for it is not sufficient to fees a mouse. He has literally robbed the houses of everything including their ‘trappings’ and left ‘hooks and some wire’. When it was quarter past dawn, and the Whos still asleep, he happily finished packing his loot. The Whos still asleep denotes how slyly the Grinch could have stolen the things from home.


Lines 107 – 123

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit,
( . . . )

He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

Happily packing his loot, the Grinch goes three thousand feet up the side of ‘Mt. Crumpit’. He rode sheepishly dreaming and humming of the bewilderedness’ that would appear in the face and eyes of the Whos. He was expecting them to be shocked the moment they realized that their how is looted and they will cry over it. Unexpectedly when he was waiting to hear the cry of sorrow, he heard a sound of merry. Every ‘Who’ in Whoville ‘the tall and the small’ was singing. The Grinch did not understand that he cannot steal the happiness that comes from within but material things only. Finally, it is time for anti-climax, and the Grinch did not stop Christmas from coming as planned.


Lines 124 – 137

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
( . . . )

And he, HE HIMSELF! The Grinch carved the roast beast!

The concluding part of the poem “How the Grinch stole Christmas” has a twist and reversal in the story. The Grinch stood rooted to the place puzzling over what was happening down there in the village. He was racking its mind over the arrival of Christmas without the ribbons, tags, and packages. That is when it fell on him that Christmas doesn’t come from any store and it is a little more than that. What happened after that is a legend in the Whoville. Whos in Whoville believed that his heart grew three sizes bigger that day. He brought back all the things he has taken away and joined them in the celebration. The highlight of all, he carved the roast beast of Christmas himself.


About Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss, pseudonym of Theodor Seuss Geisel, is a well known American writer and illustrator of immensely popular children’s books.  His works are noted for their playful rhymes and unusual creatures. Throughout his career, he has published over 60 books. ‘The Cat in the Hat‘ and ‘Green Eggs and Ham‘ were among his most famous works. Geisel won numerous awards for his work which includes the 1984 Pulitzer Prize.

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Miz Alb Poetry Expert
Miz Alb received her MA in English Literature. Her thirst for literature makes her explore through the nuances of it. She loves reading and writing poetry. She teaches English Language and Literature to the ESL students of tertiary level.
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