Nature has been of little interest to publishers of children's books. In fact, there haven't been a lot of featured stories about environmental issues to transmit values like ecology to the youngest. However children's literature is meant for future generations, it has incredible power to shape the world of tomorrow, particularly in regard to the environment. My interest in this particular theme has been put aside which is the reason why, through this essay, we are going to focus on and compare three pieces of children's literature to highlight the importance of preserving our environment. In what ways do these stories instill respect for the planet we live on? To answer this question, we are going to analyze and contrast the movie The Lorax, and two Disney movies, Tarzan and Pocahontas, each adapted from their respective novels.
Pocahontas, a 1995 animated musical film and the 33rd Disney classical movie, takes the audacious gamble of transporting its audience in a delicate time to approach as it carried negative consequences. Indeed, the discovery of the American continent by the Europeans has been accompanied by looting, wars, extermination, and slavery of all kinds, the complete opposite of the values of peace and universal brotherhood always carried by Disney's studios. Sitting on an ambitious graphic style, the film tries, however, to denounce these misdeeds while preaching respect of nature, all against the background of impossible love, between a Native American and a European colonial explorer. As a matter of fact, in the 17th century, as the whole of Europe began to discover the new world, the adventurous John Smith landed with other settlers on the shores of Virginia. If he is impatient to explore the beauties of the New Continent, his superior and leader of the expedition, Governor Ratcliffe, pursues only one goal: to plunder the gold to return rich and triumphant in Europe. The meeting of the expeditionary force with the natives of the country, the Powhatan Indians, does not take long to turn to confrontation. As the conflict threatens, a love is born between John Smith and Pocahontas, the daughter of the chief of the Indian Tribe. Pocahontas, an Indian Legend, is also rich of in another very promising theme: the relationship to Nature. By focusing on the misdeeds of Western colonization (and behind it, excessive industrialization), the opus takes a strong ecological bias. The speech invites, indeed, the mutual respect that should characterize the relation of Man with fauna and flora: it is a call to remain humble in the face of Nature. The film shows how it is far more profitable to get to know it than to always try to tame it, whatever the cost. One of its red threads, the wind that carries the leaves, has in this optic an incredible symbolic strength: it represents, in fact, the spirit of the deceased mother of Pocahontas, but also the wisdom in the face of the events as the door of entrance to the understanding of Nature.