“Us and Them” by David Sedaris Analysis

“Us and Them” by David Sedaris is a very powerful and thoughtful piece that brings humor as well as something to think about. It causes the reader to not only analyze the narrative, but also analyze themselves. David Sedaris highlights the importance of family life and how technology disrupts that. Sedaris describes Mr. Tomkey as a neighbor who “did not believe in television” (802), which seemed very bizarre. Even though David’s parents agreed with that concept, they were still consumed by what was on the news. Sedaris even spied on the Tomkeys during their dinner as if they were a unique TV show. The main point of the narrative comes when Sedaris realizes how foolish he looks being selfish, not because he wanted the candy, but because he just did not want the Tomkeys to have it. His mother’s quote in the narrative, “You should look at yourself. I mean really look at yourself” (807) not only instructs her son to analyze his actions, but also the readers to analyze their lives. Also, the narrative was a great way to compare and contrast the quality of life between the Sedaris and Tomkey family. The Sedaris’ seem to be current with the news and various shows, but they rarely seemed to spend time together. The Tomkeys, however, do not watch TV but went on vacation together and came after Halloween in costumes that looked home-made. At first, it would seem that the Tomkeys were weird for not owning a television, but the narrative takes a turn to show how foolish David looks when he is consumed with his television.

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4 thoughts on ““Us and Them” by David Sedaris Analysis

  1. In my opinion, you are completely right with your analysis on Sedaris’ piece. I agree that the reader not only analyzes the piece but begins to analyze the way they live their lives and how their point of views are. The piece gives the reader a way to see their perspectives on life and it is a very strong piece. I think you got the interpretation head on and your response was very intellect.

  2. Your blog captured so many important issues concerning this essay- the one that really got me thinking was how the Tomkeys spend more time together because they don’t own a television. They live in a very old-fashioned manner, and because Sedaris didn’t understand, he thought they were strange and criticized them. Later, Sedaris is forced to look at himself, eating all of his candy merely so the Tomkey couldn’t have it. I thought your analysis was excellent!

  3. I completely agree with your analysis of this narrative. I think this piece really made you step back and take a look at your own life and also, as you said, compare and contrast the quality of life between the two families.

  4. Your analysis is great! I was confused during the reading of the story concerning the Tomkey’s belief in television. I was unsure how the author’s parents understood the Tomkey’s mentality. After reading your analysis about that section, I was able to comprehend it. I now understand that though the author’s parents agree with the Tomkey’s disbelief about television, they are already mesmerized and “under the spell” of television. Thanks Anna!

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