In two particular essays I have read, On Dumpster Diving by Lars Eighner and, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, I noticed that the authors write about the concern they have for the unfortunate people in their countries. They also provide abnormal means of resolving the issue of poverty. The essay by Lars Eighner describes his experiences with Dumpsters and Dumpster diving. He then specifically informs the readers about how to look for food that is acceptable to eat. The author also tells of the different classifications of people that use Dumpster diving as means of providing food and material items.
Next, the essay by Jonathan Swift states a proposal that would have small children and babies being cooked and served to the people of Ireland. The author goes into great detail on the cooking process, uses terms meant for cows (breed and cattle), and provides calculations for determining the number of children that would be expendable. Although the essay was satirical in meaning and aimed at the English government, it displayed a not so modest proposal for a reaction to Irelands problem.
The one thing I found in both of the essays was that the reaction to the problem deviated from normality. Both of the essays displayed extreme ways of dealing with being poor and helped to provide a solution that was abstract.
In the essay by Lars Eighner he explains that, Dumpster diving is outdoor work, often surprisingly pleasant. Yet in spite of the element of change, scavenging more than most pursuits tends to yield returns in some proportion to the effort and intelligence brought to bear. ThePuckett 2author further writes that he thinks of scavenging as a modern form of self-reliance and states that the work rewards initiative and effort refreshing. Although it was a way of survival for Lars Eighner and a solution to the poverty he was facing, it is definitely not a normal way of life for the general population. I speculate that most people would not find the method of Dumpster diving pleasant, rewarding, or refreshing (unless of course someone found something of actual decent value or use).
As I have said, Lars Eighner gives three principles for eating safely from Dumpsters. The author writes, Eating safely from the Dumpsters involves three principles: using the senses and common sense to evaluate the condition of the found materials, knowing the Dumpsters of a given area and checking them regularly, and seeking always to answer the question Why was this discarded?. He writes this as giving instruction to those who might eventually need this skill or to those that feel so inclined to go Dumpster diving anyway.
He gives in great detail the things you must look for on different kinds of food. For example the author writes, Canned goods are among the safest of foods to be found in Dumpsters, but are not utterly foolproof. All canned goods should contain a slight vacuum and suck air when punctured. Candy, especially hard candy, is usually safe if it has not drawn ants. Candying after all is one method of food preservation because pathogens do not like very sugary substances. By stating these guidelines, he provides the solution (Dumpster diving) for the problem of being poor and not having any sustenance.
Indeed the most abnormal resolution to a countries poverty problem could be found in the essay, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift. The author proposed in this essay that small children of at least a year old would be the earliest that they be cooked and eaten before theyPuckett 3become a burden to the rest of the country. Jonathan Swift writes, a child just dropped from its dam may be supported by her milk for a solar year, with little nourishment; at most not above the value of two shillings, which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year that I propose to provide for them in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feedingof thousands. The author goes on to say that this proposal would also prevent voluntary abortions due to the expense, rather than the shame. The author further writes about calculating the number of children that are born and live, or die from accident and disease.
Jonathan Swift also states how they can use the skin from the children for gloves and boots and gives cooking instructions. The author wrote Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcass; the skin which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentleman. The author then writes that it would be better to buy the children live and dress them from the knife as you would do roasting pigs. These statements, although cannibalistic, show how Jonathan Swift satirically proposed this essay toward the people of Ireland and the English government.
Trying to understand how Jonathan Swift would view scavenging, without irony, is not that easy. Just from the essay I read it is hard to distinguish how he would actually feel about Dumpster diving. If I had to guess, I would say that he would think that it is a disgrace to the people of his country. I could hear him saying something like, To see our fellow people, digging through rubbish, tearing up our town with their filthy hands, is absurd; it should not have to come to messing up our streets and causing disorder to find sustenance.
Although, if thePuckett 4author was talking about the United States in the same context he referred to the American in his essay, he might view scavenging a little differently. Jonathan Swift stated, I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout. This statement hints at the cannibalistic and animal nature that he viewed Americans as. Using this statement and my assumption, I would say that he would view scavenging as a disgusting, animalistic way to find food.
In conclusion, the two essays I have wrote about express concern for the poverty issues in their country and make a proposal for a solution to that problem. In the essay by Lars Eighner, he provides a realistic approach by Dumpster diving to finding sustenance when he was poor. On the other hand, Jonathan Swifts essay proposes an unrealistic approach to the problem of being poor cooking and eating small children which is not something that could even be considered back then or today. Considering both of these essays, the authors proposed a solution from the influence of the specific time, country, and government making each reaction different.
Sources: Life Studies: An Analytical Reader Seventh EditionAuthor: David Cavitch
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