Alcoholic Beverage and Scott Russell Sanders

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Analysis of “Under the Influence” by Scott Russell Sanders Scott Russell Sanders’ narrative essay “Under the Influence” is a piece about his experiences with his alcoholic father. To describe these experiences, Sanders uses animalistic diction, asyndeton, and explains how his father’s disease creates insecurities in himself. Sanders’ purpose is to describe life with an alcoholic in order to demonstrate the effects and devastation in correlation with the “disease”. Using negative connotation, Sanders creates animal-like characteristics when writing about this father’s illness. Sanders reminisces about this childhood when he would “tiptoe past [his father], as past a snoring dragon”(59); he is portraying his father as a creature known for being a giant, angry, fire breathing monster. While intoxicated, people are often referred to as having “dragon’s breath”, which is why Sanders chooses a dragon over any other monster or creature. When Sanders’ father argues with his mother, “he snarls back, she yells, he growls” (59); this gives the father traits of an animal showing that his disease is dehumanizing and turning him into a monster when he drinks. In addition, Sanders’ gives his father animalistic qualities in contrast to his mother. His mother would regularly address the fathers’ alcohol problem which would lead to an argument in which the father would “grunt” and “snarl” while the mother “yells”. This implies the father is an animal while the mother still has human qualities. The disease of alcoholism not only destroys the father, but also places several insecurities inside Sanders himself. Sanders feels that maybe if he “[earned] A’s in school, [won] baseball games, [or fixed] the broken washer” (59), it would take away the “ache that gnaws” at this father. Seeing his father drink as a child, Sanders feels that it is his fault that his father drinks as much as he does, because he is not the great son every father dreams of having. Sanders...
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