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Analysis of Essay by David Sedaris

4 pages
867 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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The essay by David Sedaris is set around the 2008 presidential elections, and he explores preconceived ideas and opinions based on both experience or reason, commonly known as prejudices. The author critically and ironically explores the issue of prejudices and mainly focuses on non-American citizens such as Europeans. The discussion centers around their (Europeans') prejudice about racism in America, which in turn will lead to the failure of the election of Obama as America's president. David Sedaris illustrates the point using his French neighbors and media reporters who, regardless of having little contact with Americans, believe that Obama stands no chance in the 2008 presidential election due to his African American decent. Surprisingly, even Europeans who had the chance to interact with Americans failed to make them change their minds about the racist nature of Americans, which defines the term prejudice."



Humor is one of the main rhetorical devices used by the author to bring out the tone in the essay. The humoristic elements employed by the author enable the readers to empathize with the author's opinion by lowering the barriers to reception and thereby making them more open and receptive to the authors arguments. For example, David Sedaris uses humor in describing his opinions about Obamas inauguration ceremony. He viewed the event as it aired on BBC, while he was staying in London. He remarks that the channel repeatedly reminded the audience that Obama was of black ethnicity by stating that, Barack Obama, who is black, is arriving now with his black wife and two black children, a group that will form Americas first black First Family(Sedaris, n.d. p. 251). The authors retold version of the event is exaggerated and differs from the actual broadcast, yet this extent of exaggeration is helpful in convincing the audience that his viewpoint on the issue is valid. David Sedaris further employs a humorous tone in explaining the reasoning used by people who stated that if McCain lost the election, they would leave the country. Upon probing where they would resettle, he asked whether they would go to right-wing Europe. He elaborated this statement by reminding them that in the Netherlands, it was legal for people to marry their children and get abortions in abandoned churches as long as the transvestite doctor conducting the procedure would harvest the stem cells.

Sarcasm and Irony

Although David Sedaris continuously employs humorous anecdotes in writing, the underlying sarcasm and irony stipulate that he strongly criticizes hypocrisy, discrimination, and prejudice. For instance, when he says, "My French neighbors, all of them joyous and patting me on the back. Obama!' they cried. Obama! Obama!' I offered in return an increasingly forced a smile, thinking, Oh, get your black president. (Sedaris, n.d, p. 283-288). Here, the author has tried to make a ridiculous point to prove to the audience that he is right. This sarcastic humor works in two ways; one being that readers appreciate humor and therefore makes them lean towards the author's side. Secondly, the audience will remember that the author made them laugh and the message will be even more memorable. The extensive use of anecdotes evokes an emotional response from the reader and support Davids persuasive argument.

Writing style

The overall tone employed by David Sedaris is casual. He avoids the use of complex and pompous descriptions and words. In fact, he uses every-day language that people use in day to day conversations and which are easily understood. For instance, the author uses the first person to express his point of view, the second point of view is common, and most importantly, the author voices his opinion, entertain, and teach the audience. For instance, he says, "They wanted to talk to an American about the presidential election, a who-do-you-hope-will-win sort of thing (Sedaris, n.d., p. 241). The statement consists of made up compound words that help the author to convey the intended message of prejudice from non-Americans about the outcome of the presidential election. Such a writing style plays a significant role in building an immediate rapport with the audience, improving the credibility of the writing as it is viewed as natural, makes it easier to convey the message in a way that the audience understands easily.


David Sedaris uses his experiences with Europeans about race issues in America to bring the issue of prejudice to light. In his life, he has experienced numerous instances of prejudice towards Americans. Using the candidacy of Obama in the 2008 elections, David Sedaris engages the audience in a critical essay about the hypocrisy of prejudice against issues such as race, nations, and homosexuality. In fact, he describes the act of prejudice as the pot calling the kettle black (Sedaris, n.d., p. 260). He uses a casual writing style, humorous, and sarcastic tone to state that prejudices are often false and removed from reality. Using the motifs of racism and discrimination, David Sedaris explores the theme of prejudice. The primary prejudice explored in the essay is when Europeans, mainly David's neighbors, and the media, assume that Obama stands no chance of winning the election since he is an African American candidate vying in racist America.


Sedaris, D. (n.d.) Obama!!!.


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