The True Story of the Lorax Revealed

These journal pages—most likely written by the Lorax—were discovered recently, buried under a small pile of rocks. Please note, the language gets more pained in the final entries and the reader may find them upsetting. In those entries, you can sense the looming end, and the effects the prolonged campaign of terror Onceler’s Incorporated had exacted on the Lorax. Also note there is none of the poetic singsonginess of the authorized version of The Lorax—more evidence that that version is a highly refined piece of corporate propaganda or revisionist history.

If only the Lorax had known what the Once-ler’s arrival portended…. (Image from Dr. Seuss via Brightly Storytime)

The Lorax’s Journal

Day 1

Today I was called out of my den when I heard the cry of a Truffula Tree.* I confronted—civilly—a young man who thought cutting down a tree to make some sort of multi-use clothing out of the tufts was ok. I will keep a close watch on him.

Day 7

Dozens of people showed up and started cutting down the Truffulas today! I can’t believe how fast this has escalated. At first the Barbaloots and I hugged the trees they headed toward. But there are so many Truffulas that the workers just cut down other ones faster than we could move. Then we laid down under the tires of their wagons but they simply lifted us away. We need another strategy.

Day 9

We’ve started disabling their wagons, but the Once-ler is highly apt mechanically, fixing them almost as quickly as we can break them. We’re also worried about what he’s been building in a secured garage. Both attempts to explore so far have failed.

Day 11

It’s horrible. The Once-ler created what he calls a “Super-Axe-Hacker.” It cuts four trees down at a time. The cries of the trees are unbearable. We have to stop him NOW!

The innovations of Onceler’s Incorporated are what led to such a rapid devastation of the Truffula Forest (Image from Dr. Seuss via Brightly Storytime)

Day 12

They killed Babala the Barbaloot! He was smashing the engine of an axe-hacker when a security guard shot him. This has escalated so quickly. The Once-ler took away Babala’s body so we couldn’t even bury him. We will always remember your sacrifice, Babala.

Day 18

Barbaloots have been going missing at an accelerating pace. And Onceler’s Inc. has a new product called “Truffula Tenders.” We found empty packages in one of their dumpsters—it appears to be some sort of breaded meat product. I think they’ve been making them out of the Barbaloots. THIS IS WAR!

Day 19

The remaining Barbaloots and I raided the factory and cornered the Once-ler. We threatened to do whatever was necessary to protect our forest. He gave me a solemn promise that they would wind down operations and depart. I’m skeptical but we weren’t ready for bloodshed—even his—so we accepted.

Day 20

Three vans of heavily armed guards just arrived. I write this with pain in my heart but we should have killed The Once-ler when we had the chance. I don’t see any positive way out of this now.

Day 23

The cries of the trees have lessened. More are dying everyday but it’s almost as if they’ve resigned themselves to their fate. Hearing their pain day after day after day has depleted me. I feel like I’ve aged a hundred years. I feel like I’ve died ten thousand times.

Day 26

The air has become so thick with smog and smoke that even the Swomee-Swans are getting sick. With the Barbaloots gone, I’ve mobilized the Swomees to dive-bomb workers. But without talons or any predatory instinct, they’ll be a nuisance at best.

Day 27

Just as I feared, workers are wearing helmets outside. They laugh and throw stones at the Swomees.

Day 30

Guards have been roaming the remaining forest and have been shooting the Swomee-Swans. The Truffula Tenders have new packaging now, “New Taste and Texture!” “Extra Juicy!” I’ve sent the rest of the Swomees away.

It is unfathomable that these unique species were so quickly and completely converted into fried and breaded meat snacks. (From the Onceler’s Incorporated Archive, exhibit A17-335)

Day 35

The ponds are now overwhelmed with some sort of multi-colored schlopp and smell vile—sweet and acrid. I’ve done something I feel is justifiable but I’ve struggled with it. I asked several dozen Humming-Fish to sacrifice themselves to block up the pipes pouring the goo into the pond. It seems to have worked—though at terrible cost.

Day 36

The factory is not running!

Day 38

It’s running again.

Day 43

The Humming-Fish are no longer. I suspect they’ve been put in the Truffula Tenders with the Barbaloots and Swomee-Swans gone. If only I could get into the factory and do what I should have done when I had the chance. But how?

Day 45

Tomorrow I am going to sneak myself into the factory in a package delivery. Most likely this will be my last entry. I have no doubt that the Once-ler will put me into his Truffula Tenders as well but I need to try to reason with him one last time. There are so few Truffulas left. I am afraid the forest will never grow back. As he is the driver of this whole operation I have to convince him to stop. Otherwise the corporation will simply continue on under someone else. If it takes my death to change his ways, I accept that. With my forest and friends gone, what do I have to live for anyway? To my friends, I honor you and your sacrifices by writing down your names and remembering your beautiful lives—cut short by the greed of man.**

We owe the Once-ler’s burial under these stones for uncovering the Lorax’s lost journal. (Image from Dr. Seuss)


The rest of the story is well known. During the Lorax’s final confrontation, the final tree was chopped down (though realistically that could have happened in the days following). The Lorax was never heard from again and probably was killed (or he would have most likely continued to speak up and organize from elsewhere).***

With the final trees cut down, Onceler’s Inc. shut down. It is unclear why the Once-ler stayed behind. Did he finally, belatedly, feel guilt? Was he locked up and left behind by a disgruntled family? Or left there as a fall guy if anyone ever came to sue Onceler’s Inc.? (For the record, no one ever did.) While it’s hard to believe, it may actually have been the first. It was he who gave “the last” Truffula seed to a boy (and told his more positive version of the story to). And later, when the seed failed to grow, the Once-ler threw himself from the roof and died. It was the Once-ler’s burial—under the small pile of rocks labelled “Unless”—that unearthed the Lorax’s journal.

What lessons can be drawn from this? Was the Lorax too merciful? Is this type of corporate greed inevitable? Unresistable? And in this context, what does “Unless” truly mean? Perhaps unless means ‘unless we take the difficult actions few of us want to or are willing to take’ (whatever those are). If the Lorax had known how this would turn out, what would he have done differently? Unfortunately, the answers to these questions remain out of reach. Just as justice for or restoration of the Truffula ecosystem does as well.****


*As Truffula Trees are now extinct in the wild, it is unclear if this is metaphorical or literal. In recent years, research on tree communication has been growing exponentially and the Lorax, and others of his species, may have been attuned to, and perhaps even speak with the trees.

**Below that was a list of 578 names—presumably those who died in this battle. They’ve been omitted for brevity’s sake.

***In the “official” version of The Lorax, the Once-ler mentions “somebody lifted the Lorax away” before later saying he lifted himself away. This adds support that the Once-ler, himself, dispatched the Lorax—also supported by the fact that the Once-ler saw “the grim look on his face” as the Lorax “took leave of this place…without leaving a trace” (suggesting possibly that he, too, was made into Truffula Tenders).

****Since the Once-ler’s death, more seeds have been found in the desertified soil of the former forest. However, Truffula trees are dependent on a complex ecosystem—with precipitation sustained by Truffula evapotranspiration, barbaloots for seed propagation, and untold (and unknown) other ecological interdependencies—to sustain them. Without billions invested in ecological restoration (and frankly even with), it is doubtful this ecosystem can be revived.

Bonus Endnote: The three versions of the Lorax are here, here, and here. If you want an even more shocking variation, check out the National Wood Flooring Manufacturers’ Association version, called Truax.

Note the Barbaloots’ playful eating habits. Biologists hypothesize that this helped spread Truffula seeds far and wide. (Image from Dr. Seuss via Brightly Storytime)
Share this Reflection:

4 Responses

  1. JM

    what are the names of the 578 names? plz tell me i would like to know.

    • Erik Assadourian

      Thank you for your inquiry, dear reader. Due to ongoing concerns for the safety of the descendants of these brave fighters, the Loraxian Archive has chosen to redact the names other than Babala the Barbaloot. I leave it to your imagination to provide names equal to the sacrifices of these noble martyrs.

  2. Maggie

    The Lorax had warned the Onceler that he would be cursed until his dying day. In the end the curse was lifted? Is there some context in there and the Onceler actually dies in the end and metaphorically ends up happy and in paradise?

    • Erik Assadourian

      All life eventually dies. Even Gaia. So I’m sure the Onceler died eventually as well. Whether he achieved redemption before he returned to Earth is questionable, as once a species has been reduced beyond a viable threshold it’s rare that it can come back. One Truffula seed, even if viable, was probably not enough to regrow Truffula forests, considering the species that spread them were gone and so many other changes had transpired.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *