Recurring Motifs in Calvin & Hobbes – Calvin’s Bath Time

I have not yet come across a kid who loves taking a bath. Think of your own childhood; did you love it? I sure did not! A lot of people I’ve spoken to did not. So, we can safely say that children in general do not like to take a bath. However, I have not yet come across a kid who hates it as much as Calvin does, and the lengths to which he goes to avoid it, is hilarious.

Calvin’s strategy to avoid baths is unidimensional – hiding from his mother who’s got the water nice and hot in the tub. He manages to hide in places where he is very difficult to find, like say, the roof of his house or the window ledge. He once hid inside the tub itself figuring that Mom would never look for him there.

An Ordeal for Mom and Dad

If he does get found, he makes it an ordeal for his parents to take him to the bathroom, throwing all kinds of tantrums. If his parents do succeed in taking him inside the tub, his hyperimaginative brain goes into overdrive and he starts making shark attacks and killing water demons. For Mom, giving him a bath translates into her taking a bath as well, because Calvin’s antics get her all wet as well.

One of my favorite strips is where Calvin imagines himself to be Godzilla. He gets out of the tub drooling, much the same way as Godzilla emerged from the ocean; goes down the stairs to the kitchen and spews water on Mom. Only Calvin could have done that. What I find funny is that his mind does not evaluate the outcome of his actions. He is ‘Id’ personified in Freudian terms. He does what he wants to do. He does not even learn from the outcomes of his various misadventures. What makes it funnier is that he is no dumb kid. Calvin is a very smart child with a very sharp brain. So, when we see him not learning from his past mistakes, it is apparant that he just does not care. He does what gives him pleasure in the present moment. The future can take care of itself. We all can draw a leaf out of Calvin’s book here, can’t we?

The Godzilla Episode
My favorite ‘Bath Time’ strip however, is the one in which Calvin’s Dad builds up excitement around what is going to happen, takes it to a crescendo, before revealing that all the excitement is about Calvin’s bath time.

Calvin’s bath time, though a torture for everyone concerned in the strip, for Mom, Dad, and Calvin himself; has been a source of delight for all Calvin and Hobbes fans around the world and continues to be even today, more than 15 years after Calvin went with Hobbes to explore this magical world. One can only hope that he is not being forced to take baths any more.


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