(Also interesting to note, it looks like Max’s mom had to move the plant over to make room for Max’s dinner. :~)]]>
Although, an idea that i think hasn’t been brought up already, is that almost every monster has at least one human character trait. One monster has human feet, another human female hair, and another with a striped upper body, almost like a striped jumper. These traits can be linked from Max’s past of course; collective knowledge to be used in Max’s imagination. This is another piece of evidence that further supports the idea that Max was indeed using his imagination to create his journey…. or asleep.]]>
When Max returns, the moon is definitely full. But this doesn’t mean it went backwards one week: it could just have easily gone forward three weeks … or seven weeks … or four hundred and three weeks … or beyond. This is the strongest piece of evidence in the case that Max took a literal journey instead of an imaginative one. He sailed for “almost over a year” to get to where the wild things are, and he sailed for “over a year” to get back. If it was literal, that would have been roughly two years of travel — plus the time he spent with the wild things. The moon very easily could have been full when he returned.
But I think it’s important to note that a waning crescent would only be visible waaaaay past Max’s bedtime. A full moon first rises at sunset; as the moon gets smaller and smaller, it rises later and later. Depending on the exact size of the moon here, it could be well after midnight. (No wonder Max was misbehaving!) I think all the other evidence indicates that the journey was imaginative (most commentators assume this), but then we have to account for the phases of the moon somehow. It should have appeared in the same phase at the end of the journey; if the journey covered any length of time, the moon should no longer have been visible through the window.
Most people do not understand how the moon works, and that fact plays a large part in how I account for the moon in these illustrations. I imagine either that Sendak simply did not understand the moon when he made the illustrations or that he did not feel constrained to depict the moon literally (since most readers wouldn’t notice). Without that knowledge or that constraint, I imagine he decided to use the moon metaphorically. Just like the size of the illustrations grows to fill the page, so too does the light of the moon grow to fill the whole surface. I think the full moon nicely mirrors the broadening of Max’s perspective; he now sees his real world better — as if by more light — than he saw it before his journey.]]>
What do you make of the phases of the moon? When Max is sent to bed, the moon is a waning crescent, and when he returns, the moon is full. In the pages shown, the moon is actually “going backwards”, going from a later to an earlier phase in its cycle: cf. http://www.samuelwat.com/peabody/images/moonphases.jpg]]>