What's the theme/argument Sedaris makes in this novel?What do you believe is the main argument Sedaris is trying to achieve in this novel? Do you think that Sedaris' rhetorical use of satire and...

What's the theme/argument Sedaris makes in this novel?

What do you believe is the main argument Sedaris is trying to achieve in this novel? Do you think that Sedaris' rhetorical use of satire and irony is the subject of his novel? What was his purpose and reasoning behind his argument. An argument that I cannot depict myself. Someone help me please?

Expert Answers
bookishlife eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris is not a novel, but a collection of autobiographical essays by this humorist and satirist. It’s understandable why it might be mistaken for a novel or a collection of linked short stories; as, with many memoirs, there may be embellishment of the truth to create a more compelling narrative.

In the first section, whose events took place before David moved to Normandy, France with his partner Hugh, the author recalls growing up as an eccentric child in an equally eccentric family. The themes are fitting in, not fitting in, coming of age, and beginning to establish his identity as a gay male.

Part two (or “Deux” as he calls it in French) is mostly about cultural identity, or perhaps sometimes culture shock, as David and Hugh settle in France. He details his difficulties in learning the French language and navigating a culture so different than the one he grew up in. There are a few more reminiscences of his odd childhood here and there, interspersed among the chapters in part two.

The themes that stand out throughout the book are fitting in, sexual identity, coming of age, and cultural identity, each of which is presented in a (often) hilarious way.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's not a novel, but a collection of essays.  The message or theme is related to the difficulty of growing up.  The stories in the essays have a common coming of age theme. The essays cover school and on through going to college.

erickauld | Student

The essay/creative nonfiction story "Me Talk Pretty One Day" promotes the argument of working through arduous, almost impossible circumstances to achieve success--no matter how slowly that success progresses. Sedaris presents himself as an adult student in a Parisian French language class taught by a strict, demanding French teacher, who seems to thrive on insulting her students' inadequacies. Throughout the class, the teacher hurls numerous insults at Sedaris and her other students, and even manages to chide Sedaris in perfect English, saying "'I hate you... I really, really hate you.' As time passes by, Sedaris devotes extra hours to class assignments. He and his classmates also meet to study and practice together, determined to learn the language, but worried that they never will. Finally, after months of studying, Sedaris understands one of the teacher's insults in its entirety: "Every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section." He realizes that all of his hard work is finally starting to pay off, and he asks his teacher to insult him more.