Where The Wild Things Are This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 15, 2012
Where there Is Love

I can remember reading Where the Wild Things Are when I was a young child. I loved the sweet story of a rebellious little child who left home and went to a wild island to find love. I recently watched the film version of this sweet story, and I found that although many differences exist between the film interpretation of Where the Wild Things Are and the novel, they both carry the same overall message that everyone searches for a place where they are treasured no matter what they do. As Max finds, home is that place.

First, Max shows that he wants people to notice and love him when he calls he sister, Claire, to look at his snow fort. When she ignores him, he later tells his mother a story that shows how he was hurt by Claire’s actions. “[T]here were some vampires. And one of the vampire[‘]s … teeth fell out. Then he started crying. And then, all the other vampires said, "Why are you crying? Weren't those just your baby teeth?" And he said, "No. Those were my grown-up teeth." And the vampires knew he couldn't be a vampire anymore, so they left him. The end.” The book likewise shows Max as a little boy who needs attention. He made mischief “of one kind or another” because he wanted his mother to notice him. He needed her love and attention, and he, like many children, thought that the only way to get it was to be naughty.

When Max sails in his boat to the island where the Wild Things are, he finds creatures that parallel his desire for love and attention. One of the first questions the creatures ask Max is “Will you keep out all the sadness?” The Wild Things want a King to come and bring peace to the island. Max promises, “I have a sadness shield that keeps out all the sadness, and it’s big enough for all of us.” Just as Max needs love, the creatures he creates in his mind do also. The book does not go into as much detail about what happens on the island. But it does show that the Wild Things wanted Max to stay with them. When he starts to sail away in his boat they cry, “Oh please don’t go, we’ll eat you up – we love you so!” For them, Max represents a hope that maybe, someday, a king will come to make things right again.

In the end, Max realizes that the place he will find love is at home with his family. Even after he was so out of control, his mother still cared for him and wanted him. The book shows this clearly when Max realizes who loves him the most. “And Max the king of all the wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” So he went home, and, in the book, he finds his supper waiting for him in his room. His mother had forgiven him, as mothers always do. Max found where people loved him the most: at home.

The overall theme of both the movie and the book is the desire for love and peace. Although the movie elaborates in many ways on a simple children’s story, the message stays the same. Max, like all children, wanted love. And Max found that he was loved, no matter how naughty he acted. Spike Jonze stays true to the story in his film adaptation, bringing the message of love and forgiveness to the viewers, just as the book did.

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