Essay Analysis: The Starving Criminal by by Theodore Dalrymple

Topics: Family, Conservatism, Liberalism Pages: 5 (1557 words) Published: May 6, 2013
In the essay “The Starving Criminal” which written by Theodore Dalrymple illustrates the rise of the malnourish criminals numbers, the food poverty and the lack of authority which are the two reasons cause the tendency of the malnourish youth. Dalrymple emphasizes the lacks of self restrain which’s referring to the view of humanism on Conservatives through three main points: family relation, positive traditions and self discipline.

Conservatism is often defined as the ideology that base on this three principle: resistance to change, appreciation for the tradition and institutions of one’s culture and society, and a preference for the security and comfort of the actual world over the insecurities and dangers of future possible worlds.[1] In addition, other conservatives call it “the political philosophy of imperfection” [2]which due to the conservatives’ view it means that people are imperfect, we’re not only as genius as we think we are but also tend to be selfish. In the essay “the starving criminal”, Dalrymple mentions one of the prisoners who is a drugged burglar, the young man goes to the prison with the purpose of recovering his health and release his addiction in heroin. He doesn’t eat except the chips and chocolate. This ‘thin’ and ‘malnourished’ man is living in a low standard life, and he has no real concept about a father because he never meets his father. In addition, he has “a relationship that required the frequent intervention of the police to prevent its premature end through murder”[3] with his mother. There’s a dialoged between Dalrymple and the young man which demonstrates the family relation of the young man.

I asked the young man whether his mother had ever cooked for him. “Not since my stepfather arrived. She would cook for him, like, but not for us children.” I asked him what they—he and his brothers and sisters—had eaten and how they had eaten it. “We’d just eat whatever there was,” he said. “We’d look for something whenever we was hungry.” “And what was there?”

“Bread, cereals, chocolate—that kind of thing.”
“So you never sat round a table and ate a meal together?” “No.”[4]
In the example that Dalrymple uses in the essay, he points up that the cause of the malnourished often comes from the one of the reasons which’s family issues. The young man has terrible family background and awful relationship with his mother and step father. The mother is an irresponsible and selfish person who are not only doesn’t raise her own children properly but also let her 16years old son left home to the street. This example refers directly to the view of the humanism on conservatives which’s the concept of family relations. For the conservatives, people need to create strong ethical habits and also need tightly knit families.[5]Or, put it in other way to say, “Every new generation constitutes a wave of savages who must be civilized by their families, schools and churches.” [6] In the conservative’s perspective, people are imperfect therefore people need rules to consummate themselves which’s through their families, school or the society. The young man is not educated, and he has a horrible family condition, also self interested; therefore the society provides a circumstance to let him become a drugged criminal. Compare to the families who stay with each other, the tendency to become a criminal is much lower than the broken families.

In the essay, Dalrymple uses other example to emphasize the second point on the concept of conservatism: the positive tradition. There’s other young man who’s expelled from his step father at young age, he has been moving around his friends’ house in 6years due to him couldn’t afford any rent by the unstable works and two children with two different young women. However, he’s in prison because of stealing car and then people found out he haven’t been eaten a meal in decade before. He mainly relies on chocolates. According to Dalrymple, he says: It never takes many links in a...
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