Literature / Green Eggs and Ham

I would not eat them in a house!
I would not eat them with a mouse!
I would not eat them here or there!
I would not eat them ANYWHERE!
I do not like green eggs and ham!
I do not LIKE them, Sam-I-Am!

Dr. Seuss does it again, putting a tiny collection of words to amazing use. He manages this with a text composed primarily of repetitions of the same few lines, with a few minor changes, building up to a climactic ending. His whimsical pictures showcase the crazy world in which this storyline is possible.

This 1960 book was written as the result of a friendly bet: Seuss's publisher was impressed that The Cat in the Hat was written using fewer than 300 different words, and bet Seuss that he couldn't write another one with a coherent plot using only 50 different words. Seuss hit it right on target.

The story follows a nutty-but-persistent character named Sam-I-Am, who hangs around a tall cranky dog-face whose name is never given. Throughout the book, Sam pursues his neighbor around, asking him if he would like to eat the eponymous foodstuff? No? How about this way, or that way...? His increasingly exasperated victim denies his offer each time, until finally he gives in just so that Sam will leave him alone...

...and given that this is the Trope Namer for I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham, he likes it.

An Animated Adaptation was featured as part of the TV special Dr. Seuss on the Loose. The Canadian band Moxy Früvous also sang a funky rap song using an adaptation of the book. "Weird Al" Yankovic sometimes recites the book on stage to the tune of U2's "Numb". It also got an adaptation as a Living Books title. Inspired the title of the beginner snare drum solo, Green Eggs and Flam.

The original book(s) contain examples of:

  • An Aesop: Don't be afraid of trying new things.
  • Butt Monkey: The unnamed guy.
  • The Cat Came Back: Sam pulls this off several times in the book. Especially in the animated adaptation, in which only the guy lands on the train instead of Sam's car.
  • Constrained Writing: It uses only fifty distinct words.
  • Determinator: Sam will stop at nothing to get the poor guy to eat those eggs and ham.
  • I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: OH REALLY?
  • The Evils of Free Will: The Alternate Aesop Interpretation which gives a rather broken moral: "You should try to stop people making their own decisions, because they might not even be right about what they'll like."
  • No Name Given: The grumpy guy Sam-I-Am keeps unintentionally annoying. According to the 1973 animated version, his name is officially Joey.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Okay, whose idea was it to have an unfinished railroad leading off into an ocean?!
  • Palette-Swapped Alien Food: The former trope namer.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Well, this is a Dr. Seuss book.
  • Rhyming List: The list of all the places that what's-his-name won't eat green eggs and ham.
  • Runaway Train: The last segment involves the train running off a bridge and onto a boat. (And no-one is hurt in the least.)
  • Screwy Squirrel: Sam-I-Am.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Reportedly, the publisher wagered $50 that Dr. Seuss could not write a story using only 50 different words. The result? One of the most popular children's books of all time.
    • Even better, the publisher reportedly never upheld his side of the bet.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: The unnamed protagonist recites his longest list of places he won't eat the food while falling through the air.
    • This is averted in the cartoon version. By then, the guy has escaped from the train using a handcar and made it to the boat first. Then he meets Sam and does his rant, which is cut off at "Not on a train!" when the train reappears and lands on the boat as in the book.

The animated version contains examples of:

  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: As the train goes through a tunnel, we only see Sam-I-Am and the nameless guy's eyes and nothing else.
  • Running Gag: The fox being chased by hunting dogs. And horses.

Are you sure you don't want some green eggs and ham?
Would you eat them on a kite?
Would you eat them on our site?

Alternative Title(s): Green Eggs And Ham