Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Beverly Cleary’s Socks explores the themes of family rivalry and jealousy in an unusual form: between Socks, the cat, and the new baby of the Bricker family, Charles William. This warm, humorously told story, which could take place anytime and anywhere, is told from Socks’s perspective.

Marilyn and Bill Bricker are leaving the grocery store when they come upon two children who are selling kittens. Marilyn falls in love with Socks, appropriately named for his white paws, and Bill hesitantly agrees to pay the fifty cents. Before long, Socks is in control of the household, amusing the Brickers with his kittenish antics, soaking up their affection as he sits on their laps, and indulging himself with the abundant food. His good life begins to unravel when he is penned in the laundry room for several days. Upon his release, he sees Mrs. Bricker coming through the front door carrying a blanketed bundle. The bundle wiggles and makes strange sounds. No longer is Socks the center of attention now that Charles William, the firstborn of the Brickers, has made his entrance into the world.

Socks feels neglected and resents the little intruder. The Brickers have no time to pet, brush, and play with him anymore, and, when Mr. Bricker discovers that Socks is gaining weight from eating Charles William’s leftover formula, Socks is put on a strict diet. One night, Mrs. Risley, a true cat lover, comes to baby-sit. She fusses over Socks, allowing him...

(The entire section is 510 words.)