Once again, it’s that time when after reading Kiddo#4 the same book too often, I begin to overthink it.
It’s my opinion that The Cat In The Hat doesn’t really exist. No, I know the books are fiction. What I mean is that within the story itself, the Cat doesn’t exist. He’s an imaginary construct created by Sally and the narrator.
Both stories begin with Sally and the narrator being faced with a task they don’t like. (The narrator is a boy the same age as she, but never named in these two books; a later book refers to him as Dick.) In the first, they’re stuck indoors while it’s raining; in the second they’re shoveling the snow in their front yard. In both cases, their mother is out of the house for the day and it’s assumed the father, although he exists, is not going to come home.
Then the Cat comes along right when they’re feeling bored, and mayhem ensues. He messes up the house, plays games he shouldn’t be playing, and breaks all the rules. The rule-breaking is important: little kids love that he does it, and that’s half the appeal of the books. But the characters themselves would have been vicariously living through the Cat as they remained safely within the rules themselves. (Which is exactly what our children are doing as they listen.)
The rule-breaking is so important that both books have an external voice of conscience: the fish in the first book, and the narrator himself in the second.
The Cat makes a mess so tremendous that no one could possibly clean it. And that’s where I think we find our proof that the Cat never existed at all: because in both books, when the mess can’t possibly get any worse, the Cat somehow puts everything to rights. In the first book he picks up everything just as the mother is walking in the door, and in the second he uses a kind of magic to not only get rid of the pink spots but also to finish shoveling.
And then, when he’s no longer necessary (because the walk is shoveled, or because Mom is home to alleviate the boredom) he becomes compliant for the first time and vanishes, or rather the kids say, “Okay, done now!”) and there’s no evidence left behind. Which is telling, because at least the cake should have been ruined in both books, and the broken things couldn’t just have been fixed.
Therefore I submit: even within his own stories, the Cat doesn’t exist.