I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like 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 grumpy, unnamed, dog-face man. Throughout the book, Sam pursues the man 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...
For such a simple book, it's received a surprising number of adaptations: the first was as a segment in Dr. Seuss on the Loose,note an animated package film TV special hosted by The Cat In The Hat (the second and final time he would be voiced by Allan Sherman) which also adapted The Sneeches and The Zax. It's had two musical adaptations, first as Funk/Rap Rock song by Canadian band Moxy Früvous and another by "Weird Al" Yankovic as a parody of U2's "Numb" which he'd occasionally perform in concert (due to push back from the Seuss estate, he's never recorded a studio version). Tangentially, it inspired the title of the beginner snare drum solo, Green Eggs and Flam. It also has a Living Books adaptation.
The original book(s) contain examples of:
- An Aesop: Don't be afraid of trying new things.
- Ambiguous Syntax: Sam's questions about eating green eggs and ham with a mouse, fox, and goat are worded vaguely, making one wonder if Sam meant "with" as a side dish or dinner guest.
- Butt-Monkey: The unnamed guy constantly has to put up with the antics Sam-I-Am pulls off just to get him to eat the green eggs and ham.
- 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.
- Cultural Translation: In the Hebrew translation, the main character's objection to trying the meal is simply that he's not hungry; the ingredients of the meal are never specified. A wise choice considering that much of the target readership might have quite valid reasons for refusing to eat ham.
- Determinator: Sam will stop at nothing to get the poor guy to eat those eggs and ham.
- Does Not Like Spam: The unnamed man does not like green eggs and ham. At least, not at first.
- Dub Name Change:
- The Spanish translation renames Sam-I-Am "Juan Ramón" to keep the rhyming scheme (with green eggs and ham being "huevos verdes con jamón").
- For similar reasons, in Polish translation of the book Sam-I-Am is "Tomek-Przytomek".
- In the Italian translation, Sam-I-Am is called "Nando detto Ferdi" ("Nando A.K.A. Ferdi"), both a word play with the Italian name "Ferdinando" and a name that rhymes with "prosciutto e uova verdi" ("green eggs and ham" in Italian).
- Gratuitous Latin: Yep, the book is available in a Latin translation, under the title Virent ova! Viret perna!
- 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 man Sam-I-Am keeps unintentionally annoying. Some sources give his name as "Joey", or some vague descriptions like "Grouchy Guy" or "Sam's Friend". Eventually averted through the Netflix animated series, which officially names him Guy-Am-I.
- 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. You don't see green-colored eggs and ham every day.
- Rhymes on a Dime: This is a Dr. Seuss book, so the dialogue being rendered entirely in rhyme is practically a no-brainer.
- Rhyming List: The list of all the places that the man refuses to 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.)
- Self-Imposed Challenge: The result of one. 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 man 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.
- Talking the Monster to Death: The man finally agrees to try the titular food just so Sam-I-Am will stop pestering him.
- Tastes Better Than It Looks: The man refuses to try green eggs and ham, but he eventually gives in. He takes a bite and realizes that he really, really likes it.
The animated short contains examples of:
- Animated Adaptation: Of the book.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: As the train goes through a tunnel, we only see the eyes of both Sam-I-Am and Guy-Am-I and nothing else, just like the Star Off Machine sequence in The Sneetches segment.
- Handcar Pursuit: The man uses a handcar once the train goes into the tunnel, just to get away from Sam-I-Am.
- Ode to Food: The short begins with the Cat in the Hat singing about how he thinks of eggs and how he's eaten them in all sorts of ways, which segues to him saying it "reminds me of Sam, whose favorite dish is green eggs and ham", thus leading to the actual short.
- Running Gag: The fox being chased by hunting dogs. And horses.
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