Me Talk Pretty One Day

by David Sedaris

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How does David Sedaris reject the American dream in Me Talk Pretty One Day?

In Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris rejects the American dream by leaving the country once he has found success and by using his newfound fame to parody the myth of American exceptionalism.

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In Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris sets out to contrast his life in America with his life in the Normandy region of France. He encourages this contrast through the format of the text; he groups the American essays in the first half of the book, titled "One," and the French essays in the second section, appropriately titled "Deux."

The first group of essays, while not spiteful, certainly aim to satirize the concept of the American dream. In "You Can't Kill the Rooster" and "City of Angels," Sedaris pokes fun at the sheltered, afraid, and at times ignorant attitudes of people in rural areas of America. His depictions of his brother in North Carolina and his friend's country girlfriend question whether being truly "American" is something people should aspire to.

He also satirizes American attempts at sophistication and high culture; in "Today's Special," he parodies pretentious restaurant menus, and in "The Learning Curve," he shines light on the faux intellectualism of American higher education. At the end of part "One," the reader is left with the impression that the American dream is an elaborate facade masking an aggressively average citizenry.

In part "Deux," Sedaris certainly pokes fun at aspects of French culture; in the title essay, "Me Talk Pretty One Day," he mocks his French teacher's cold, militant, and at times brutal teaching style. In many essays, however, Sedaris solicits humor by highlighting the shortcomings of American culture when compared with the customs of foreign lands.

Sedaris uses comparisons between tourists and upbringings to generate irony and humor. In "Picka Pocketoni," he cringes as a family of American tourists on the French subway loudly complain about how badly he smells, not even considering that he might understand English. "Remembering My Childhood on the Continent of Africa" consists of Sedaris bitterly contrasting his husband Hugh's adventurous childhood as the son of missionaries with his own laughably mediocre upbringing in North Carolina.

Sedaris's mere existence in France serves as a rejection of the American dream; after achieving notoriety and success in America, he has decided to depart for a country he prefers.

By the end of the novel, Sedaris has rejected the American dream by poking holes in the myth of American exceptionalism and highlighting the shortcomings of American culture when contrasted with that of foreign lands.

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