Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 322

Themes of Calypso by David Sedaris include death and aging, family ties, and politics.

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Death and aging are one of the primary themes in the book. It comes up again and again in a variety of essays in the collection. Two important people to the Sedaris family have died: his mother, years before, to cancer; and his sister, recently, to suicide. At the same time, David, his husband, his father, and his siblings are all getting older. They're all reaching the age where their bodies aren't as quick and their thoughts aren't as agile, either. They still mourn the loss of their mother even though years have passed. They're all trying to come to terms with Tiffany's suicide, too.

The theme of family ties is always important to Sedaris and is no less apparent in Calypso than in his other collections. His siblings are some of the primary characters in the book. Their stories, foibles, and interactions fill the pages and often make Sedaris frustrated or disbelieving—but he always comes around to understanding them. Their connection is something that makes Sedaris who he is: without his family, he's not a complete version of himself. Seeing them interact, recall the past, and plan the future together makes it clear why that is.

Politics is another theme in the book. Sedaris recalls hearing diners break into cheers at the news that Reverend King was shot; he feels the same sense of being appalled at and not understanding of the political climate of 2016. He writes about his family hearing that James Comey is in town and wanting to go see him. He writes about his distaste for Donald Trump. He fights with his father, a lifelong Republican, about the election. He says that at one point he looks at his father as if Lou Sedaris himself was responsible for Trump's election. The political climate is discussed and referenced at several places in the book.

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