The article, “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” by David Sedaris revolves around his experiences in early life and adulthood in France. The author discusses his struggles living in a family of baby boomers. With the parents having survived the Great Depression, most of the baby boomers encountered harsh parenting experiences. However, the story gets more of its meaning in Sedaris’ attempt to learn French. Having gone to France with “bottleneck” knowledge of the language, he aimed at enhancing his capacity and proficiency in French for comfortable handling of the witty conversations. After enrolling in a language class, Sedaris realizes that he was learning in a room with numerous individuals with different ages, experiences, and cultural backgrounds. Nonetheless, the group has at least one critical characteristic to define each person: the instructor hates everyone. In this case, Sedaris uses his article to discuss the challenges that one encounters throughout the life while using humorous language and elements of writing to urge his audience to avoid giving up in life and in attaining personal goals despite the circumstances. I agree with the author that one should not give up in the attempt to achieve something because the hardships and challenges that occur in the process do not necessarily define the outcomes of one’s efforts.
Initially, after the struggles of childhood and young adulthood, the author appears to be excited by becoming a student yet again at 41 years (Sedaris, 2010). In this case, he relates the early life of a student in college with the one that he had in France. Thus, Sedaris argues that there is no time that an individual can become a student and learn something in life. In this part, he does not hesitate to insert humor in his account of student life. Moreover, he assumes to happily embrace the privileges and advantages associated with being a student or having a student ID. ‘…a discounted entry fee at movie theaters, puppet shows, and Festyland, a far-flung amusement park that advertises with billboards picturing a cartoon stegosaurus sitting in a canoe and eating what appears to be a ham sandwich” (Sedaris, 2010).
Essentially, the author aims at showing his audience that despite experiencing challenges in learning and having difficulties in coping or interacting with others, one may still emerge victorious in their goals and targets.
To relate to the hardships that he passes through in France, Sedaris uses various humorous and descriptive phrases about people, events, and places. First, he describes his nervousness and fear of being judged by the arrogant instructor and other people in the language class. Sedaris inserts humor by leaving his audience wondering how a 41-year-old person can have fear and nervousness due to being in a classroom. At one point, he associates the instructor’s harsh approach and strenuous interactions with others with the sufferings of refugees in a camp. “My only comfort was the knowledge that I was not alone. Huddled in the hallways and making the most of our pathetic French, my fellow students and I engaged in the sort of conversation commonly overheard in refugee camps” (Sedaris, 2010). In this light, Sedaris makes the classroom and the instructor to look like various terrifying and horrible experiences that one could hardly overcome. Thus, he shows that even in times of challenges and difficulties, one is never alone in their situation. Mostly, there are other people who are similarly facing the same situation.
At the end of the story, Sedaris deploys allusion, symbolism, and similes to explain his point of view clearly. He uses allusion, symbolism, and simile to create a ridiculous image or picture in the mind of his audience. Throughout his life in learning French, he lives in discomfort associated with the experiences he encounters with his instructors, student colleagues, and places. In an instance, Sedaris meets a younger student who appears to be more prolific in speaking French than him. He indicates that the student was “causing him to feel not unlike Pa Kettle trapped backstage after a fashion show” (Sedaris, 2010). Sedaris alludes from the 1960s movie by the film character, “Pa Kettle,” and his wife, “Ma,” who won a lavish home after securing a win in the film writing contest. The couple was lucky to leave their old and old-fashioned farmhouse for a new model home after the award. Sedaris associates his feeling as being the opposite of what the Pa Kettles felt like after the prize (Sedaris, 2010). To the audience, this allusion and comparison appear as a segment of the humor ruling the entire article as well as a perfect explanation of Sedaris’ experiences.
In conclusion, using childhood experiences and difficulties in France, Sedaris aims at introducing life challenges and hardships. Mainly, the author urges his audience not to give up despite the circumstances surrounding the attempts to achieve goals and objectives. Thus, he uses various writing elements including humor, allusion, symbolism, and simile to draw images and pictures, depicts situations, and prompt critical thinking among the audience. I agree with the author’s notion that life may present various challenges and difficulties. However, there is always a reason to carry on with what one aims at achieving. Consequently, associating everything with fun as well as positive and open-mindedness enhances one to succeed.
- Sedaris, D. (2010). Me talk pretty one day. Paris: Hachette.