How can I write a satiric paper about gas prices?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

You may want to talk to some of us "old timers" who can remember the days of 24 cents per gallon gasoline in the late 1960s and early 1970s. You may also want to mention the fact that gasoline in Saudi Arabia is still less than $1 per gallon. (I believe the Saudi government subsidizes much of the gasoline used by its citizens.) And, you may want to include that if the prices seem high in the United States, then consider the prices in Europe and other parts of the world, which are nearly double that in the USA. Gasoline is, of course, susceptible to rising costs in production and demand; the cost will continue to rise, just as food and clothing will become more expensive. 

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I saw something similar to this one time: A couple was registering for their wedding and they selected gas stations of choice in lieu of a toaster, or other products.

You can twist this image and do something similar yourself with a birthday party, a wedding party, a bar mitzvah whatever. Just make it look like, in your last resort, the only thing you could have done was ask for gasoline as you would ask for your bare neccesities.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Why not take the position of satirizing what some see as America's propensity to send charity outside the country rather than helping those "here at home"?  Remember that satire involves an opinion--not necessarily the reality.  And, your use of this "slant" is not necessarily your true opinion if you are composing for an assignment [as this is only a writing suggestion].

You, then, could state how the gas prices are the United States' way of rebuilding Iraq since this country always rebuilds the countries that it has fought and destroyed (e.g. Japan, Germany).  Then, you can develop this theme by suggesting that only $x will support a family of four and buy prothestics for those whose arms and legs have had to be amputated as a result of American weaponery.

Remember that satire is usually brutal in order to point out egregious behaviors, attitudes, etc. For example, in Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" which is made reference to above, a suggestion is made by Swift that the British eat the young Irish babies since they are figuratively eating the Irish by starving them when giving jobs to British only.  In fact, you may wish to refer to this excellent example of biting satire as an aid to your own composition.

Good Luck!

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Two essential components of satire are that of witty ridicule of social behavior and a common code that society agrees to and professes to maintain. The satirists task is to be witty enough that the audience laughs with her/him when the satire shows in what ways the agreed upon code is being violated while society and its individual members profess to be upholding the code. Bear in mind that the satirist''s ridicule is never meant to do harm. It is meant to get the audience genuinely laughing along and to shock them into an awareness of how ridiculous they have become.

I'm hard pressed to think of a social code that might apply to gas prices unless it is the American belief in the power and supremacy of consumerism. The object of a satire on gas prices might not be all of society but rather it might be the elite groups that decide and govern gas prices. What code is there that is implicitly agreed to that covers these groups? The trick is going to be how to identify what code these groups profess to uphold while they behave in opposition to the code. You might try satirizing their understanding of or implementation of supply/demand economics.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

If I were writing it, I would think about doing this paper in one of two ways.  I could either A) write about the reasons why the gas prices are high or B) write about what impact the high prices have.  Either way, I think I would do a "Modest Proposal" type essay where I exaggerated things.

So, for example, if you think that gas prices are too high because of demand for oil going up in China you could suggest a solution where the government of China could do a zero-child policy instead of a one-child policy. If you think that excessive drivng is causing it, you could write one where you suggest that everyone should be required to drive a car that got less than 5 mpg so that we can prove to the world that no one pushes American drivers around.

If you wanted to write about the impact, you could copy Swift and suggest that people sell their children into slavery so as to be able to buy gas...

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