A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

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In "A Modest Proposal," in paragraph 9, why doesn't Swift end the sentence after the word food?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A normal person would end this sentence after the word food, because he would have the sensitivity not to get too graphic about his proposal. However, the fact that the narrator actually adds that the babies will be tasty

whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled, and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or ragout

shows how tone deaf and clueless he is. The images these words create are repulsive as we imagine a cooked human baby brought to the dinner table.

However, beyond wanting to characterize the narrator as clueless, Swift also wants us to feel how horrible and barbaric this baby-cooking cannibalism is. The more we can visualize it, the more we are likely to feel horrified and have our emotions fully aroused.

The narrator wants us to see him as humane person trying to solve the problem of poverty in Ireland. He even suggests a statue should be erected to a person like him. However, his description of what he is proposing has the opposite effect, showing him to be a callous individual who doesn't see the poor as wholly human.

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Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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After the word "food" in paragraph 9, Swift adds the words "whether stewed, roasted, baked, or...

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