In David Sedaris’ Us and Them, the author employs a variety of poetic devices to great effect. By using techniques such as alliteration, imagery, and metaphor, Sedaris creates a vivid and memorable story.
One of the most striking examples of Sedaris’ use of poetic devices is his description of the differences between Americans and Europeans. He writes, “The French are quite convinced that they are better than everyone else. The English think they’re better than the French. The Americans go one step further and actually believe it.” This clever use of alliteration helps to create a clear image in the reader’s mind, highlighting the difference in attitude between the two groups.
Sedaris also makes effective use of imagery throughout the story. For example, when he describes the Americans’ attitude towards travel, he writes, “We wanted to see everything. We were going to do it all…We were like bulls in a china shop.” This image of chaos and destruction paints a vivid picture for the reader and helps to convey the Americans’ energetic and enthusiastic attitude.
Finally, Sedaris employs metaphor to great effect in Us and Them. For example, when he talks about the differences between Europeans and Americans, he says “The French are quite convinced that they are better than everyone else. The English think they’re better than the French. The Americans go one step further and actually believe it.” This clever use of metaphor highlights the different attitudes of the three groups in a succinct and memorable way.
Overall, Sedaris’ use of poetic devices helps to create a powerful and engaging story. By using alliteration, imagery, and metaphor, he creates a vivid and memorable picture for the reader. Us and Them is an excellent example of how effective poetry can be when used in prose.
In ‘Us and Them,’ the author, David Sedaris, employs a slew of literary devices to comically depict a routine discussion and a boy’s mother’s reaction to it. The conversation described in the passage, as well as the subsequent few lines, are ideal representations of how unpleasant conversation generates emotions. For comedic effect, the author makes frequent use of hyperbolic expressions both openly and covertly throughout the passage.
For example, the line “I’d already said too much and could feel the blood vessels in my temples throbbing” is an overt hyperbole used to add levity to the situation. The covert hyperbole present in the lines “I forced myself to smile and asked about her day, which had been long and hard” works to emphasize the boy’s strained efforts to be polite.
Sedaris also employs similes throughout the section to add humor. For example, he compares the sound of his mother slurping her drink to “the sucking noise a person makes when they’re trying unsuccessfully to unclog a sink drain.” This simile not only paints a comical picture, but it also effectively describes the sound his mother was making. Another example of Sedaris’s use of similes is seen when he writes that the boy’s mother’s “eyebrows looked like two furry caterpillars had landed on her face.” This image is both amusing and descriptively accurate.
Besides hyperboles and similes, the author also uses personification to great comedic effect. For example, in the line “her voice had taken on a life of its own,” Sedaris gives his mother’s voice a personality separate from her own. Additionally, throughout the passage Sedaris makes use of irony to add humor. The most significant instance of irony in the section is the fact that, despite the boy’s mother’s insistence on always being polite, she is actually the one being impolite in the conversation.
The first, and certainly less amusing example of hyperbole is in the book’s opening line, when “I could hear my mother straining for something to talk about out in the hallway.” By claiming that he can feel his mother’s strain from his room, the narrator implies that her effort to converse is so powerful that he may hear it from his chambers. Furthermore, this phrase establishes the tone of the conversation: a mundane and uninteresting topic that should be avoided at all costs.
The mother has just said that her day consisted of “the usual”, to which the son replies with great enthusiasm. This line is an example of sarcasm, which will be elaborated on later. The next poetic device used in this short story is irony.
One example of verbal irony is when the mother says “I do love a nice cup of tea” after the son suggests that she have one. The reader knows that she does not enjoy tea, as it was established earlier in the story that she only drinks it to be polite. This type of irony is often used for comedic effect, as it is in this case.
Another example of irony occurs when the father tells his son “You should write a book”. The son has just shared with his father that he is struggling to find a job, to which the father replies with this suggestion. This line is an example of situational irony, as it is the complete opposite of what the son wanted to hear. The final type of irony used in Us and Them is cosmic irony.
In this scenario, the author employs hyperbole to create a humorous parallel between the banality of boat trailers and losing one’s life. The use of particular word choices is also a more frequent technique employed by the author to impart comedic impact.
Another poetic device used by Sedaris is alliteration. In Us and Them, the author writes: “We were in our twenties then, and unafraid of anything.” The repetition of the letter “w” in this sentence provides an emphasis on the idea that the speaker and his friend were young and foolish. These poetic devices work together to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind while also providing humor. David Sedaris is a master of using these devices to entertain readers while imparting some wisdom or insight into human nature.
Us and Them, by David Sedaris, is a short story about two friends, both in their twenties at the time, who are taking a road trip. Throughout the story, the author uses a variety of poetic devices to provide humor and insight into human nature. One such device is hyperbole. For example, the author writes: “It was as if we’d stumbled onto the set of a movie and somebody had forgotten to turn off the lights.” In this instance, the author is exaggerating for comedic effect, implying that the scene he is describing is actually quite mundane.
In conclusion, David Sedaris uses a variety of literary devices to add humor and levity to what would otherwise be an uncomfortable conversation. His use of hyperbole, simile, personification, and irony are all effective in this regard. Consequently, the passage provides an accurate representation of an awkward social interaction.