Throughout “Consider the Lobster”, an article written by David Foster Wallace about the 2004 Maine Lobster Festival, Wallace demonstrates that not all of his writing is clear and concise. The author does this through his various viewpoints in the article, which allow him to capture the reader ‘s attention. A particular sentence that captures the initiation of Wallace’s writing is, “The suppers come in styrofoam trays, and the soft drinks are iceless and flat, and the coffee is convenience-store coffee in more styrofoam, and the utensils are plastic (there are none of the special long skinny forks for pushing out the tail meat.
)” (Pg. 239). Within this sentence, Wallace describes the many parts of the festival and how they show the poor side of the festival. Between the cheap styrofoam trays and the flat drinks, the festival gives off a poor vibe to the reader. Wallace’s use of changing viewpoints adds to what he originally wants to do, which is to give the reader a chance to pick which side of the argument they want to be on. The author not only gives the reader different views, but he also changes his tone throughout the piece.
By adding dynamic shifts in his writing, he includes the reader and gives a better feel for what this article is really about. This sentence stands out due to the fact that Wallace talks about the positive aspects of what occurs during the festival throughout the beginning of the article. This includes not only the amount of lobster that is being steamed, boiled, and cooked but also the sheer amount of lobster, which is being dispersed to the many hungry festival goers. Wallace describes other benefits of the festival in the text such as, “Tourism and lobster are the mid coasts region’s two Maine industries, and they’re both warm-weather enterprises, and Maine Lobster Festival represents less an intersection of the industries than a deliberate collision, joyful and lucrative and loud” (Pg. 235).
The help it brings to not only the lobster industry, but also to the tourism industry in the Midcoast region. This is very beneficial to the local industries when it comes to the financial aspect of their businesses during the summer months. These descriptions are the start of where the author switches from portraying the positive points of the festival to then comparing those points to the negative aspects of the festival. These negative aspects include the terrible trays and convenience-store coffee. By changing his views, Wallace influences the reader to keep analyzing the piece and how he interprets the festival. This sentence is only the tip of the iceberg regarding the changing tone of the piece and what the author thinks of the festival.
Wallace believes that the lobster festival is a tradition where the people who attend shade a blind eye to what goes on in the kitchen and how their food is actually served to them. The attendees of the festival care more about eating the lobster, considering that this festival showcases the Maine lobster. In this piece, Wallace strays from the norm. He demonstrates that he is not like other writers by analyzing both sides of an issue, rather than just one like most writers do. He is able to stray away from the norm and switch sides quite frequently throughout the article, which in turn makes this article different and sets Wallace away from the rest. Wallace uses strategic changes in thought throughout the article to encourage the reader to form their own opinion.
He does this for two reasons: this gives the reader a chance to be able to pick their side. Wallace is able to switch sides freely between the favorability and unfavorable aspects of the festival to allow the reader to determine which is more important. Secondly, Wallace’s use of the switching points allows him to set himself apart from other authors. He allows himself to switch up views mid-article, which then grants Wallace to grab the reader ‘s attention.
Wallace also creates for himself to not pick a certain side, but to keep himself in the middle of the argument. This is so he is able to examine both sides of the story and look at both the pros and cons of the lobster festival as a whole. The effect of changing sides and separate viewpoints is that it gives the reader time to develop his/her views on what they think is right and how they are able to perceive the festival. Wallace allows the reader to form their opinion of what they think about the festival as a whole, which gives each reader a different perspective of how they want to interpret it. This gives a twist to Wallace’s writing that most authors do not allow in their writing. This sentence is the first of many that let the reader develop and to kind of think of where do they actually stand on the moralities of this article.
Is it acceptable to “go with the flow” and just mindlessly eat lobster because everyone else around them is doing the same even though maybe morality wise, this isn’t the best decision? This sentence captures a viewpoint of knowing that the lobster is the main point of the article, but shouldn’t the “supporting cast” be just as important? No one really wants cheap styrofoam trays and flat iceless drinks to go along with their main dish. Throughout the article, there are many instances where Wallace is able to change his viewpoint and switch from a negative to a positive or vice versa. An example of where Wallace demonstrates this trait is ”Tourism and lobster are the Mid Coast region’s two main industries, and they’re both warm-weather enterprises, and the Maine Lobster Festival represents less an intersection of the industries than a deliberate collision, joyful, and lucrative and loud. (Pg.
235)” In this instance, Wallace describes the benefit about what goes on during the lobster festival and how it helps the lobster and tourism industry. For midcoast towns, the summer tourism and lobster industry is a major part of their income for the year. They are dependent on this festival and the sheer amount of people that come along with the festival. This sentence contrasts with the first because it shows the beauty of the festival rather than the negative portrayed in the first of styrofoam trays and flat sodas.
This is just one example of where Wallace is able to switch his views and compare and contrast what he really thinks about this festival. Wallace’s main point out of all of this is that, yes the festival may seem like a very beneficial tradition to the surrounding towns and industries, but in all, is it worth it for the people involved? After examining all of the conditions around the festival the reader can assume that people don’t go there for the unsanitary conditions and cheap trays, they go there for the lobster. They go there to have spent time with family and friends and the allure of the lobster makes them turn a blind eye to the iceless sodas and styrofoam trays. This gives the audience time to choose their side on this and pick what they believe is the better side of Wallace’s argument. Wallace’s use of switching viewpoints between the positives and negatives of the festival adds to this essay by separating himself from other writers. The use of descriptive details by what Wallace thinks sets him and the argument apart from what he really wants to get out of this piece of writing.
The original sentence in contrast to the comparative sentence changes the argument about which is the better of the two points. Wallace shows both sides about how the lobster festival is a beneficial aspect to the community along with being a not so good thing for the people. The two sentences were direct opposites from each other which gave the reader other sources to go from, to be able to decide which side they really wanted to be on throughout the remainder of the article. The second sentence adds a contrast to the first by showing a beneficial aspect of the lobster festival of tourism and the lobster industry because both get a boost when the lobster festival happens.
By choosing two contrasting sentences, they give you a two different viewpoints. By doing this, Wallace is able to get to reader into a split decision of what they think about the whole festival. Wallace never comes fully out and describes his opinion about his side of the argument. He may hint at it in certain parts of which he believes in and which parts he may not believe in, but never fully comes out. An instance where Wallace demonstrates that is “It’s hot, and the sagged roof tarps the stream and the smells, which latter are strong and only partly food-related”(Pg. 239).
In this text, Wallace describes the negative sections of how he isn’t a fan of the festival and how it’s hot and everyone is crammed together. Wallace also gives an example of why he does like the festival by describing where there is a “. . . Amateur Cooking competition, carnival attractions, and food booths…”(Pg. 236).
This shows the better part of the festival because there are so many events that happen and everything seems so meticulously planned out throughout. By using both sides, it allows the reader never really know where exactly where Wallace is at with his mindset. He keeps the reader guessing about what he really thinks about the whole festival. By doing this it allows him to be able to keep switching sides without the reader thinking he’s trashing on one side. The argument as a whole changes the understanding of the essay because Wallace describes the two different views which enable the reader to understand more clearly where he is coming from.
He splits his decision on how he interprets the lobster festival. After reading this essay, the reader has an important decision of how they interpret the Maine Lobster Festival by going off Wallace’s main points, He provides many main points about the beneficial factors and the not so beneficial factors of the Maine Lobster Festival. Reading “Consider the Lobster” may seem difficult to some, but Wallace provides examples of how the different views on the festival. The difference that a reader might make after reading both of the materials, would be clarification on some of the material where Wallace might not have been so clear.
In conclusion, DFW changes viewpoints throughout the article which adds to effect on the reader when choosing a side for what they think about the Maine Lobster Festival. Wallace provides a range from the what the first selected sentence provided of the cheap trays and the flat soft drinks to where the second sentence provided the effects on the local tourism industry and the lobster industry, which are two of the main industries in Maine in the summer. By describing both sides and allowing the reader to choose what they really want to think about the festival, it gives a more personal feel for what the lobster festival is really about.