In a world where Hollywood is telling you to be thin and beautiful, while also telling you that you don’t have to be thin to be beautiful, one book stands out: The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (for more information on caterpillars, click here)
This book was written in 1969 by Eric Carle, a man who has touched the lives of millions and also felt the need to add an unnecessary vowel to the end of his very ordinary name.
Carle’s acclaimed novel opens up with:
Right off the bat this story lets you know what it’s really about — anorexia.
And from the moment the caterpillar emerged from his sleepy hollow, he embarked on a trek for food. Eating everything in sight from apples, to pears, to plums, he just couldn’t stop. Illustrating the caterpillar’s gluttony, Carle inserted a parallel into modern American life that I think we can all relate to.
The story continues and the caterpillar just keeps on eating… until Sunday, God’s day. And before falling asleep the caterpillar ate hole through a green leaf, finally “[feeling] much better.” Like our personal lives, the caterpillar binged and was able to feel better about himself after just eating some salad.
Lastly, the caterpillar then entered his cocoon, didn’t eat for two weeks, and finally emerged as a beautiful butterfly.
This hero’s journey followed a young, helpless larvae as itliterally ate its way through its problems, found solace on a leaf, and then starved himself until he could become beautiful.
Clearly, Eric Carle saw how our world would become consumed by the appeals of vanity and Hollywood. The only way he could have made it more obvious was if he had the caterpillar take a selfie. In the midst of the colorful pictures and simple vocabulary, America has once again missed the cue of a genius ahead of his time.
Carle saw an America where we were all the caterpillar, being told to binge and starve our way through hardships. It is only after careful, deliberate readings of his texts that we have been able to decipher the true meaning. Much like how the Rosetta Stone allowed us to understand the Egyptian’s hieroglyphics through online Spanish tutorials, the Internet has allowed us to analyze the words of Eric Carle.
I hope we can all take a moment to sit back and soak up the forgotten knowledge of the ancients.