1. How did David Sedaris take a potentially boring experience – auditing a beginner’s language class-and turn it into a humorous essay? What were the funniest parts of the essay? What are the principal techniques of comic expression Sedaris uses in the essay? To get you started, one interviewer wrote that Sedaris’s signature is”deadpan”; humor. Identify and characterize the effectiveness of this humor by providing examples of it and other comic devices associated with Sedaris in “Me Talk Pretty One Day”;
2. Working with the stories “Go Carolina” and “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” examine how David Sedaris focuses on the themes of speech and language in his youth (in “Go Carolina”) and in his adult years (in “Me Talk Pretty One Day”). Explain how he uses his challenges in these areas to poke fun at teachers, himself and social expectations in both the Carolina elementary school and the French language classroom.
3. Explore the desert as a symbol of exile, isolation and romantic escape in Sam Shepard’s play, True West.
4. Compare and contrast the father characters in two Ethan Canin stories: “The Year of Getting to Know Us,” and “The Carnival Dog and The Buyer of Diamonds.” Assess how closely they fit this description of fathers of the 50s and 60s provided by Ethan Canin in an early interview with him: “I think there are a lot of men, now in their sixties and seventies, who are good-hearted people with the peculiarities of an age that lived behind walls. These are the distant fathers, the detached bread winners. Among my own generation it’s considered sort of retrograde and ill-informed and wasteful of a life to live as they did. But I don’t necessarily agree.
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