ATTENTION PARENTS! COMMUNIST PLOT TARGETING YOUR CHILDREN: Goodnight Moon.

Having read the classic children’s story “Goodnight Moon” to my son for many many nights now, I am most disturbed to report that I can no longer expose my son to this horrific piece of propaganda. Its innocence belies the sheer malignity of its purpose, which is no less than the complete destruction of American society, and the establishment of a godless and communistic State. In order to appreciate fully the subtleties of the work, I will need to reproduce the text, here. I cannot do the same with the pictures, so just grab a copy and follow along… IF YOU DARE.

Page 1

“In the great green room
there was a telephone
And a red balloon.
And a picture of–“

Okay so firstly, why does a child of this one’s age (less than five, I would think… would an older child actually be talking to inanimate objects?) require a telephone? An intercom might be understandable, but a telephone? Surely if the child had an important phone call, his mother, or at the least the mysterious “quiet old lady whispering hush” (q.v.) would wake him. Therefore the reader can only presume that the entity responsible for the installation of the telephone was one that both wished direct access to the child at all times, and was powerful enough to demand it, i.e. the State, which is seen as normal and even comforting in this tale of innocence at bedtime.
It is perhaps also interesting to note that the room is described as GREEN. Why? The walls are green, yes. But the curtains are yellow, and the floor and furnishings are red. Obviously, this is an attempt to make green into a friendly and unthreatening color, and an attempt to foist a radical anti-capitalist environmentalist agenda onto American youth. And the red floor? Obviously a code showing that all such politics must spring from the firm foundation of Marxism-Leninism.
The balloon is another communistic reference, possibly calling for immediate war with the west, as in: ‘the balloon is going up.’ If so, the authors’ opinions seem to vacillate as the balloon disappears and reappears throughout the work.

Page 2
“The cow jumping over the moon.”

Goodnight Moon was published in 1947. The cow jumping over the moon symbolizes the author’s hope that Soviet Russia would win the Space Race.

Page 3
“And there were three little bears sitting on chairs.”

The three little bears are obviously a reference to Russia as the leader of the Communist movement. Lenin and Stalin would be two of the bears. The third may be Trotsky, but it is more likely that the author at the time believed that Mao Zedong would continue to foster tight relations with Moscow.

Page 4-5
“And two little kittens
And a pair of mittens.
And a little toyhouse
And a young mouse.”

The kittens, significantly, are black and white, signifying the “black” capitalist forces fighting Mao’s armies and the “white” forces already defeated in the Russian Civil War. Their reduction to annoying housepets suitable for distracting the people is very much in the style of Socialist Realism’s heavy-handed satire. The mittens and the socks are pink, considered an appropriate color for the child, whose very thoughts will soon be clothed in socialist-leaning terms. The toyhouse is also, significantly, red. The mouse, of course, would be considered dangerous vermin in most cases. Obviously the authors realized that Soviet housing was rife with these pests and are conditioning their young readers to accept them as inevitable.

Page 5-6
“And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush.”
“And a quiet old lady who was whispering, ‘Hush!'”

Why a comb AND a brush? The redundancy is unquestioned. One of these objects is probably a listening device of some kind. Again, the child reader is being conditioned away from questioning such cognitive dissonances. Most chillingly, the “quiet old lady” makes her first appearance. She is not named as any relative, nor does she have any interaction with the child but to silence him. Obviously, the authors wish to instill silence as a virtue in the compliant subjects of the State, and to accept any authority figure presented by that State as legitimate ipso facto. She knits a green cloth, the makeup of which the black and white kittens attempt in vain to tangle.

Nothing further seems to be going on for the next four pages, but…

Page 11-12
“Goodnight light
And the red balloon
Goodnight bears
Goodnight chairs”

Note the child’s body position, here, kneeling on the pillow before the seated bears. Communist “prophets” are being substituted for bedtime prayer, and elevated to godlike status.

Page 13-14
“Goodnight kittens
And goodnight mittens”

What happened to the socks? They have disappeared from the rack. They show up later, of course, but this again reinforces the idea that the State alone will choose the context and syntax of information shown to its subject. Consistency is not required.

Page 14-15
“Goodnight clocks
And goodnight socks”

As a child this age, I don’t believe I had one clock in my room, let alone two. the child is being trained to conform to the cold, mechanistic schedule of the State, and accept it as natural.

Again, nothing significant for the next four pages, but then…

Page 19-20
“Goodnight nobody
Goodnight mush”

The child says goodnight to “nobody,” an indication that agents unknown are always watching and should be accounted for by the wise (read “terrified”) subject of the State. And of course the “mush” again, is conditioning the child to the reality of collectivism: bland porridge will become the staple meal of the populace, as it is one of the cheapest foodstuffs that any society can produce.

Page 21-22
“And goodnight to the old lady whispering ‘hush’

Again, the acknowledgment that the servants of the State, seen and unseen, are always with us.

Page 23-24
“Goodnight stars
Goodnight air.”

This looks innocent, but in some ways is the most haunting propaganda image of all. The stars and the air, two things that even the State knows it cannot hope to control, are presented. Alone of all the full, two-page illustration, this one is colorless, a washed out and Siberian snowscape. The message is plain: an escape to nature is an escape to sterility, exile, and death.

Page 25-26
“Goodnight noises everywhere.”

Noise, and any form of rebellion, is, chillingly, everywhere extinguished. The “quiet old lady’s’ eternal ‘hush’ has succeeded in stilling every form of dissent. And this is presented as a comforting truth to put children to sleep with. A few other factors deserve consideration: Note that the telephone alone of all the objects named is never said goodnight to. Obviously, it is for the State to contact its subjects, and not the other way around. Also, the books on the bookshelf move around, a reminder that knowledge is under the sole control of the State. It may change at any time, and these changes are not to be questioned.

I know that this post is, well, disturbing. I was certainly disturbed when the awful truth broke in upon me in the middle of reading this book to my son after two nights of no sleep and about forty-seven cups of coffee. But the awful truth is no longer possible to ignore. How Brown and Clements escaped the vigilance of HUAC in the fifties I will never know. The truth is self-evident.

One thought on “ATTENTION PARENTS! COMMUNIST PLOT TARGETING YOUR CHILDREN: Goodnight Moon.

  1. My father gave me Animal Farm to read when I was elevenish. He did not tell me what kind of book it was. Suffice it to say that it was not at all what innocent little me expected.
    Incidentally, I get the feeling you would enjoy The Macbeth Murder Mystery by James Thurber.

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