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In Dr. Seuss' The Sneetches, how do you think race plays a part in the story?

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Phillip Holland eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Racism is symbolized in the Sneetches' relationship within their groups. At first, the Sneetches with stars on their bellies consider themselves "the best Sneetches on the beaches." They look down on the Sneetches without stars on their bellies and treat them as second-class Sneetches.

A huckster named Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes to the beach and offers to assist the plain-bellied Sneetches. For a small nominal fee, he will give them all stars. The Sneetches who originally had stars, needing to feel superior again, come to McBean, who charges them money to remove their stars. Now one group feels like it's better than the other. The two groups of Sneetches pay McBean more and more money to either put on a star or take one off, depending on how the star is viewed. McBean's scheme ends when he has all the Sneetches' money.

The story ends as the Sneetches realize that a Sneetch is a Sneetch and that no one has a right to feel superior. This probably occurred to them as they observed how easy it was to change the exterior appearance (i.e., add the star).

The story is a good commentary on racism because it demonstrates that basing one's superiority on looks is quite silly and leads to a loss of potential friendships, as it does early in the story when the star-bellied Sneetches will not play with the ones without stars. Racism also allows McBean to take advantage of both groups, as McBean uses his machine to extract money from the Sneetches while doing little for them otherwise.

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