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 Loosenote , with an animated series coming to Netflix in 2018. 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. It 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.
  • 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.
  • Central Theme: Try new things.
  • 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.
  • Does Not Like Spam: See below
  • The Evils of Free Will: There is a theme of forcing someone to do things, i.e. "You should try to stop people making their own decisions, because they might not even be right about what they'll like."
  • I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: Trope Namer, obviously, of the character liking something once they try it.
  • No Name Given: The grumpy guy Sam-I-Am keeps unintentionally annoying. Some sources give his name as "Sam-I-Am-Not."
  • No OSHA Compliance: Okay, whose idea was it to have an unfinished railroad leading off into an ocean?!
  • 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.
  • Handcar Pursuit: The nameless guy uses a handcar once the train went into the tunnel, just to get away from Sam-I-Am.
  • 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?