Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace Essay

Total Length: 691 words ( 2 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 2

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Wallace's Lobster

The purpose of David Foster Wallace's "Consider the Lobster" is to draw attention to a gourmet favorite -- lobster -- while attending a Lobster Fest. His intention is not just to highlight how the world loves to eat lobster but also to raise a moral/ethical conundrum associated with modern eating habits -- that is, the agribusiness of killing animals that we might devour them. Wallace admits that his own personal opinion is to view animals as "less morally important than human beings" but that this should not prevent others from sharing their views, whether they agree or disagree (Wallace, 2004, p. 7). His main objective in penning the article is to provoke thought on something that people might otherwise prefer not to think about -- namely, the relationship between aesthetics and morality (if, that is, morality is even something that can and should be applied to the cooking of lobsters).

One descriptive writing pattern used in the essay is Wallace's use of rhythmic questioning in order to transcend the issues presented in the article and propel the thesis to a higher, more abstract ground. This is evident in the conclusion of the piece, where Wallace fires six questions off in a row -- over the span of 167 words -- all focusing on provoking the reader to question his own thoughts and feelings on the subject at hand. It is meant, in other words, to lift the lid on the topic and allow a whole new flow of ideas and connected extensions of the issue to emerge.

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It is a method of describing the ultimate conclusion or ultimate ramifications of the topic without having to become "preachy" or "shrill" as Wallace puts it (2004, p. 8). Moreover, this method is supported by Wallace's use of alliteration, consonance and assonance. The first refers to the repetition of sounds at the beginnings of words that follow one another -- for example, in Wallace's questioning paragraph, one sees the line "previous paragraph as just so much pointless navel-gazing, what makes it feel okay, inside, to dismiss the whole issue out of hand?" "Previous paragraph...pointless" is an example of alliteration -- the repetition of the "p" sound at the beginning of the words. The "s" sound is also used repeatedly throughout and is an example of consonance: it appears at the end of "previous," "as," "just," "pointless,"….....

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Sound Sound Sound. (n.d.). Rhymeweaver. Retrieved from

Wallace, D. F. (2004). Consider the Lobster. Gourmet. Retrieved from

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