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A Comparison of David Sedaris "Me Talk Pretty One day" to Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail"

Updated on March 7, 2019
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Jeff Zod is an avid reader, writer and researcher. He enjoys exploring new and old concepts.

"Me Talk Pretty One day" is a collection of twenty-eight short and extremely hilarious essays that are full of humor written by David Sedaris. The primary focus of his essays is his personal experience especially the student life. Sedaris has a great mastery of the art of self-deprecating humor. Me Talk Pretty One Day is his third book.

The essays narrate his experiences as he tried to learn French in Paris. On the things that is clear in this book is his embarrassment from his teacher much like the children in North Carolina did. On the other hand, Martin Luther King draws the attention of the audience by using historical analogies.

For instance, he draws ancient, biblical and revolutionary instances of civil disobedience. An epitome of the work of Martin Luther King is "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Despite the fact that David Sedaris learns a lot from Martin Luther King, their literature work are quite different as stated above. Their presentations address different issues that affect society.

In his letter, Dr. King asserts that he seldom responds to criticisms of his work or ideas. The 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' was his response to a public statement of concern and caution that had been issued by eight white religious leaders from the South.

Dr.King penned the letter in long hand. He give two reasons for being in Birminham. The first is that he had been invited by their local affiliate and he had promised to attend and he fulfilled his promise. The second is that he had become aware of the injustice in Birmingham.

Dr. King compares himself with Paul and the prophets. He feels that he is duty bound to carry the gospel of freedom beyond his hometown.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

— Martin Luther King Jr.

He said they were caught in an inescapable network of mutuality that was tied in a single garment of destiny. he contended that what affected one person directly affected everybody indirectly.


For example, Sedaris uses humor in the start of his essay to describe how difficult it was for him to understand what was being taught in the French classroom. The key things he addresses in "Me Talk Pretty One day" includes insecurity, common human behavior and communication difficulties.

To begin with, Sedaris clearly point out that, despite attending school for the first time at the age of 41 years, he is totally uncomfortable in the new environment. It has been his thought that with age, confidence will develop. However, that does not happen because of the harsh and insecure environment that he is exposed to by his teacher.

Second, Sedaris describes in an exaggerated and harmonious way the cruelty of his French teacher. He uses this to illustrate a particular universality in the behavior of human beings. In the book, the ridicules and mocks the students repeatedly to a point of making them feel ashamed and intimidated. Despite the fact that the student doesn't share a language, the situation forces them to come together for support.

That is used to prove that people behave well or badly regardless of their language. Sedaris also addresses the issue of communication. According to him, the struggle to communicate is an urgent and human struggle and that people have an extraordinary capacity to work toward understanding one another even in spite of obstacles.

On the other hand, Martin Luther King advocated for civil rights. According to King, African Americans should be given civil rights for the fulfillment of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. King argued that all people regardless of their color they have a right to the pursuit of happiness, life, liberty. However, the Americans did not respect the rights of African-American citizens.

King also speaks against the idea of gradualism. The only solution according to King is granting African Americans civil rights. He even states that the nation will not have any tranquility in the issue of civil rights is addressed. Lastly, King argues that there is a need for African Americans to conduct a crusade for civil rights.

However, it does not have to resort to violence. He also makes the African Americans of the efforts made by a good number of white people with an aim of bringing justice. Thus, despite the fact that both Sedaris and King have a common objective of addressing the real issues in the society, they do so in different ways.

© 2018 Jeff Zod

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