David Sedaris

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What is the message of the story "Jesus Shaves" by David Sedaris? How do we know this?

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The message of the story "Jesus Shaves" by David Sedaris is that familiar beliefs and articles of faith often sound strange and even ludicrous to those who have not grown up with them. Sedaris uses the technique of defamiliarization, illustrating his point before revealing it explicitly in the last few paragraphs.

In the story, students in a French class attempt to explain the celebration of Easter to a Moroccan woman who has never heard of it. Much of the comedy in the story comes from the broken phrases they use in the attempt to convey concepts which are familiar to the reader but which sound absurd when explained ungrammatically, using eccentric diction, and out of context:

"He weared the long hair, and after he died, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples."

"He nice, the Jesus."

"He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today."

The author emphasizes the confusion by showing that even among those students who share a Christian background, the traditions of Easter differ widely and seem strange to those who do not share them. As an American, Sedaris proclaims:

The Rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate.

However, he soon finds that the French are unfamiliar with the Easter Bunny, since their tradition holds that the chocolate is delivered by a flying bell.

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