In his short story Me Talk Pretty One Day, author David Sedaris uses several different literary tools to construct a story that is both humorous and easily identifiable with common experiences and responses that all of us have experienced at one time or another, in different contexts.
Starting with his opening paragraph Sedaris introduces the topic of his story with the sophisticated image suggested by the term “true debutante” which he contrasts, for humorous effect, shortly thereafter with his description of a perk associated with his “debutante” training program in the form of billboards “… picturing a cartoon stegosaurus sitting in a canoe while eating what appears to be a ham sandwich.”
Continuing later in his opening page, Sedaris begins his character and development simply by choosing the names Kang and Vlatnya for two of his fellow students and by introducing the notion of utter incomprehensibility with the French spoken by his instructor, using the (non) words meimslsxp, lgpdmurci, and apzkiubjxow in her opening remarks, a mechanism for humor to which returns several times again with similar effect.
Sedaris then introduces the running theme of the dual futility of satisfying a teacher who is probably incapable of being satisfied, and the identifiable frustration of trying to express one’s complex thoughts using only the rudiments of elementary foreign language skills. Sedaris repeats the same formula of creating humor through the inclusion of the unexpected several times, in ending Anna’s statement of her hatred of mosquitoes, Carlos’ love of wine, music, and “making sex with the womans of the world, and the author’s own recollections about his mother’s love of rare steaks, cats, and Tums.
Sedaris uses the teacher’s responses to magnify the sense of humor of trying to satisfy her using only rudiments of elementary foreign language skills by describing the students’ efforts to avoid her wrath after witnessing her attacks to previous student-victims,...