The Grinch’s heart was never too small
Welp, today is Christmas Day, and like a lot of you I decided to binge on some of my favorite holiday movies. There are certain titles I just can’t resist, such as A Christmas Story, The Santa Clause, Iron Man 3… (Yeah, forget the Die Hard controversy, Iron Man 3 is my holiday action flick of choice.) And of course, we can’t forget something as classic as How the Grinch Stole Christmas — a story that’s getting yet another movie, this time in CG. I can’t exactly say I’m looking forward to that one, so I’ve personally opted to ignore its existence for the moment and binge on the animated and live-action iterations instead.
The 2000 live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas tends to split audiences on whether it’s a blessing or abomination, but good or bad, it gave us several additional insights into the beloved holiday story. We learn where the Grinch came from, why he has beef with Christmas and the Whos, and even why he lives on Mt. Crumpit. In the same vein, we’re also shown additional glimpses into Who culture and how their society works. Granted, most of these tidbits specifically reflect Christmas rituals, but there are elements that one can assume are a constant in the lives of the Whos.
Among these details, the most important revelation by far is the “Dumpit to Crumpit” chute.
For the uninitiated, this device is utilized several times throughout the live-action Grinch movie. Its primary function is that of a public trash chute, but it’s also intermittently used as quick transportation between Mt. Crumpit and Whoville. Based on what we see the first time the chute is used, plus the consumerism speech later given by the Grinch at the Whobilation, it can be assumed that this is the crux of Whoville’s waste management. All garbage, whether it be hazardous waste or a bad Christmas neck tie, is disposed of off the back of the mountain, hence the tagline “Dumpit to Crumpit!”
The movie makes it clear that the Grinch scavenges anything and everything from the discards of the Whos. As the Grinch himself says, “One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri!” It can be assumed that everything in his home is something he found at the dump; we know from the childhood flashback that he climbed the mountain with nothing but the clothes on his back, and even before that he was shown to have a talent for creating things out of what appeared to be broken junk (a skill he would later use to build the sleigh). The Grinch regularly rummages through the trash deposits for everything from food to furniture to clothing to entertainment. He so rarely comes down the mountain that his presence is treated as borderline supernatural by the neighboring Whos.
So how then, I ask, did he eventually come to have a dog?
After all, it’s not like the Grinch would break his decades of solitude to come down to Whoville just to adopt a pet. Even if he did decide he wanted a companion, why would he want a dog from Whoville? He hates the Whos and wants nothing to do with them. I don’t know if there are any other civilizations in this story, but from the wide shots of the town and Mt. Crumpit, there certainly doesn’t seem to be anything else for miles and miles. The only option he’d have available is one he wouldn’t willingly take.
Likewise, I don’t think Max made his way up the mountain, either. Given the deep levels of understanding Max and the Grinch have with one another, it’s likely they’ve been together for years — and unless Who-dogs live significantly longer than real life dogs, this means Max was probably adopted by the Grinch as a puppy. But even if we assume that Max had gotten lost in the wilderness as a pup, there’s no way he’d have made it all the way up the mountain on his own. There would have to be someone else involved, someone that could transport a very young dog to the top of Mt. Crumpit.
Perhaps through the use of a garbage chute?
As grim of an idea as it is, I think Max was a Christmas puppy that someone got tired of caring for and attempted to get rid of. We know all too well that there are many, many people out there in the real world who view their pets as disposable, who are willing to abandon them if they move away or just simply don’t want to look after them anymore. The entire function of the “Dumpit to Crumpit” chute is that your trash is out of sight, out of mind, and no longer your problem. How big of a stretch is it really to think that some Who got their kid a puppy, the kid got bored of playing with it, no one wanted to take care of it, and they put the puppy down the chute while assuring themselves that it’d get along fine in the wilderness?
This scenario would finally explain why the Grinch not only decided to have a pet at all, but why he regards Max as such a close companion. Max isn’t just a dog; he’s someone that the Grinch regularly talks to, someone whose opinion he values, someone who he’s given his own space and his own possessions within the lair. The Grinch cares so much about Max because he relates to him as someone who was deeply hurt and wronged by the Whos, someone who was treated inhumanely and cast out. Max is welcome in the sanctuary because the Grinch is able to see himself in this poor little dog that he fished out of the garbage at the dump.
Max coming into his life as a literal rescue dog would also bring additional clarity to the Grinch’s consumerism speech following the Whobilation.
“That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? That’s what it’s always been about! Gifts! Gifts! Gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts gifts! You wanna know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me… in your garbage. You see what I’m saying? In. Your. GARBAGE. I could HANG myself with all the bad Christmas neck ties I’ve found at the dump! And the avarice… The avarice never ends! ‘I want golf clubs!’ ‘I want diamonds!’ ‘I WANT A PONY SO I CAN RIDE IT TWICE, GET BORED, AND SEND IT TO MAKE GLUE!!!'”
Does that last comment seem a bit more poignant now?
For the Grinch, Christmas is about pain, but it’s not only about his pain. He’s angry at the Whos for what they did to him, but he’s also angry because of what they did to his only friend. Sure, the Grinch is still sarcastic and abrasive with Max, but he also shows him his vulnerable side, something that no one else would ever be privy to. Max is in the Grinch’s life because the Grinch wants him to be. He wants Max around because no one else did, because he understands more than anyone what it’s like to be gotten rid of, and what it’s like to be cold and lonely and hopeless.
Now try to tell me that the Grinch’s heart was two sizes too small.
Obligatory Legal Crap
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch, Max, and Whoville are all owned by Dr. Seuss (or rather, the Seuss estate, I suppose). The screenshots in this article are the property of Universal.
And while I hesitate to call Max “property,” he is owned by the Grinch. Because he loves him.