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Once More to the Lake and Us and Them: Shaping of Identity in Childhood

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Many authors usually use details that capture a response from the readers to construct an effective description. The writers aim isn’t simply to try to tell the readers what something looks like but to show them. David Sedaris “Us and Them” and E.B. White’s “Once More to the Lake” are essays that use personal feelings to illustrate the principles of effective description. David Sedaris essay “Us and Them” is about Sedaris as a little boy and how his perception of and growing interest towards family that is different then his own, but also a thoughtful piece that sheds light on many issues, such as the impact of technology on individuals and their lives as a whole, while “Once More to the Lake” is an essay of persona in which E.B. 

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White reflects on his own childhood when his father would take him to the lake. While Sedaris and White both use point-by-point patterns to compare their subjects, White is more effective because he uses an expressive tone in the pattern to reflect his youth ages and the most careless period of his life. So his decision to go back to the lake with his son is an attempt to return to childhood. The evidence that White used was imagery to create a nostalgic tone. The things that he remembered clearly were the early mornings “I remembered clearest of all the early mornings, when the lake was cool and motionless”(White 631) and the smell of the bedroom “remembered how the bedroom smells if the lumber it was made of and of the wet woods whose scent entered through the screen”(White 631). 

He then goes onto explain that he was always the first one up “I was always the first one up I would softly so as not to wake the others, and sneak out into the sweet outdoors and start out in the canoe, keeping close along the shore in the long shadows of the pines”(White 631). With using the words like “would, was, smelled”, White shows that he is talking about the past but because of such a detailed description of the smell and the look of the lake, anybody can easily tell that the author is reminiscing on his childhood days spent and how he enjoyed them. In David Sedaris essay Us and Them it is a piece of work about perception, judgement and gullibility. He uses tone effectively throughout the essay to communicate his ideas about these issues. He first uses judgement on the Tomoka  family. He does this by using a negative tone. He comes off as naive because of how unfamiliar he is with the way the Tomkeys do things. He writes “Because they had no TV, the Time Keys were forced to talk during dinner. 

They had no idea how punny their lives were, and so they were not ashamed that a camera would have found them uninteresting”(Sedaris 623). The way he speaks about the Tomkey family gives the reader an idea that Sedris feels upper class, but also in a way sympathizes with them. It even seems that he feels like he is doing the Tomkeys a favor just by showing interest in them. In Once More to the Lake, there are many strengths in the essay, but E.B. White fails to make a specific audience clear. This is because his essay has a specific description and compares his childhood memories and the memories made with his son at the lake which leads the audience to believe that the reason why he wrote this essay was just for himself, as a way to remember both memoirs of his childhood but being able to compare it to the time he spends with his son and his father as a common ground where they all had been at a time. In Us and Them, Sedairs succeeds at making a specific audience clear. This is because he uses many specific descriptions in his essay. 

The stories aimed audience is today’s modern society, and how we often single out the people who choose to be, or have to be different than what the social norm is. It also allows us to reflect on how ignorant we as human beings can sometimes be towards others and take the point of view of someone else’s behavior that ends up reflecting our own which leads us to step back and reflect our true identity. In White’s essay it appeals to ethos and we see it throughout the essay, as he appealed to the emotions of the audience. He used this appeal for those who have kids of their own, as he talked about how his son is just like him. He describes his son doing the same activities he did as a child which included jumping into the lake. Since going back to the lake it brought so many memories back to White that he saw so much of himself in his son, he even felt as if he was the one jumping into that water. This is an appeal to ethos because there are many parents that feel the same way and see themselves in their kids and White wanted to draw the audience into his story and relate with him in some type of way. Sedairs clearly uses ethos, logos and pathos throughout his essay, but we see pathos being used a lot more than the others. Sedaris bring humor into the story as well as giving the reader something to think about. The main point of the story is about how Sedaris realizes how selfish he is. 

The selfishness comes out when he wants the candy to himself and his mother reacted in some type of emotional way “You should look at yourself, she said. “I mean, really look at yourself”(Sedaris 625). She wanted to tell her son that he needs to see how his actions are affecting himself, but to show the readers that they should analyze their own lives. Many authors usually use details that capture a response from the readers to construct an effective description. The writers aim isn’t simply to try to tell the readers what something looks like but to show them. David Sedaris “Us and Them” and E.B. White’s “Once More to the Lake” are essays that use personal feelings to illustrate the principles of effective description. David Sedaris essay “Us and Them” is about Sedaris as a little boy and how his perception of and growing interest towards family that is different then his own, but also a thoughtful piece that sheds light on many issues, such as the impact of technology on individuals and their lives as a whole, while “Once More to the Lake” is an essay of persona in which E.B. 

White reflects on his own childhood when his father would take him to the lake. While Sedaris and White both use point-by-point patterns to compare their subjects, White is more effective because he uses an expressive tone in the pattern to reflect his youth ages and the most careless period of his life. So his decision to go back to the lake with his son is an attempt to return to childhood. The evidence that White used was imagery to create a nostalgic tone. The things that he remembered clearly were the early mornings “I remembered clearest of all the early mornings, when the lake was cool and motionless”(White 631) and the smell of the bedroom “remembered how the bedroom smells if the lumber it was made of and of the wet woods whose scent entered through the screen” (White 631). 

He then goes onto explain that he was always the first one up “I was always the first one up I would softly so as not to wake the others, and sneak out into the sweet outdoors and start out in the canoe, keeping close along the shore in the long shadows of the pines”(White 631). With using the words like “would, was, smelled”, White shows that he is talking about the past but because of such a detailed description of the smell and the look of the lake, anybody can easily tell that the author is reminiscing on his childhood days spent and how he enjoyed them. In David Sedaris essay Us and Them it is a piece of work about perception, judgement and gullibility. He uses tone effectively throughout the essay to communicate his ideas about these issues. He first uses judgement on the Tomoka  family. He does this by using a negative tone. He comes off as naive because of how unfamiliar he is with the way the Tomkeys do things. He writes “Because they had no TV, the Time Keys were forced to talk during dinner. They had no idea how punny their lives were, and so they were not ashamed that a camera would have found them uninteresting” (Sedaris 623). The way he speaks about the Tomkey family gives the reader an idea that Sedris feels upper class, but also in a way sympathizes with them. It even seems that he feels like he is doing the Tomkeys a favor just by showing interest in them. 

In Once More to the Lake, there are many strengths in the essay, but E.B. White fails to make a specific audience clear. This is because his essay has a specific description and compares his childhood memories and the memories made with his son at the lake which leads the audience to believe that the reason why he wrote this essay was just for himself, as a way to remember both memoirs of his childhood but being able to compare it to the time he spends with his son and his father as a common ground where they all had been at a time. In Us and Them, Sedairs succeeds at making a specific audience clear. This is because he uses many specific descriptions in his essay. The stories aimed audience is today’s modern society, and how we often single out the people who choose to be, or have to be different than what the social norm is. It also allows us to reflect on how ignorant we as human beings can sometimes be towards others and take the point of view of someone else’s behavior that ends up reflecting our own which leads us to step back and reflect our true identity.

In White’s essay it appeals to ethos and we see it throughout the essay, as he appealed to the emotions of the audience. He used this appeal for those who have kids of their own, as he talked about how his son is just like him. He describes his son doing the same activities he did as a child which included jumping into the lake. Since going back to the lake it brought so many memories back to White that he saw so much of himself in his son, he even felt as if he was the one jumping into that water. This is an appeal to ethos because there are many parents that feel the same way and see themselves in their kids and White wanted to draw the audience into his story and relate with him in some type of way. Sedairs clearly uses ethos, logos and pathos throughout his essay, but we see pathos being used a lot more than the others. Sedaris bring humor into the story as well as giving the reader something to think about. The main point of the story is about how Sedaris realizes how selfish he is. The selfishness comes out when he wants the candy to himself and his mother reacted in some type of emotional way “You should look at yourself, she said. “I mean, really look at yourself”(Sedaris 625). She wanted to tell her son that he needs to see how his actions are affecting himself, but to show the readers that they should analyze their own lives.

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