Log Line

An embittered creature who cannot stand the joyous sounds of Christmastime devises and executes a plan to steal the very holiday itself from the town of innocents located at the base of the mountain on which he lives.


Medium: Television (animated short special)

Writer(s): Dr. Seuss, Irv Spector, Bob Ogle

Director(s): Chuck Jones, Ben Washam

Production Co.(s): The Cat in the Hat Productions; MGM Television

Adapted from: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (©1957) by Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss (1904–1991)

In the 1966 animated television special, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the main character, Grinch, is an embittered creature who cannot stand the joyous sounds that issue loudly at Christmastime from Whoville—a town of innocents that lies at the base of the mountain on which he lives. To prevent the noises from coming one year, he devises a plan to steal the very holiday itself, which he imagines to consist of the trappings of Christmas instead of the spirit that gives them meaning.

To examine this story in light of the grok approach, we must first identify the main character and his vector of intent. In this case, it is easy to identify the main character—his name is in the title, and the story makes him the focus shortly after it begins. His vector of intent, however, requires a bit of examination to arrive at and determine whether it lies in the realm of gaining, regaining, or keeping.

We can dismiss at the outset the possibility that the intent of the Grinch involves regaining, because as far as we know, he has never not known the noise of Christmas in Whoville—whose exuberant celebrations seem to be a longstanding tradition. His condition of value is not one that he possessed at one time and then lost or had taken away; ergo, there is nothing for him to regain.

Likewise, we can discard the idea of keeping as his vector of intent. A keep character is satisfied with the state of things as they are and does not act until that state faces a threat. And although the Grinch is free of the noise of Whovillian celebration for 364 days out of the year, he is not at all content with the fact that he lives with the inevitability of its return. So no, he is not a keep character, either.

The process of elimination reveals, therefore, that the Grinch is a gain character. And it also reveals the condition of value he hopes to gain—a year without Christmas in Whoville.

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