Consider the Lobster and Other Essays
The Ways to Persuade a Reader in Consider the Lobster by David Wallace
In David Foster Wallace’s article, “Consider the Lobster,” he persuades the audience that cooking lobster and eating them is cruel and that it is wrong to eat lobster “alive for our gustatory pleasure.” Wallace applies thought provoking information that exhibits whether it is right or wrong to boil lobsters “for our gustatory pleasure.” Wallace emphasizes with details the various ways lobsters are cruelty prepared. He also provides the readers with outside resources and calls attention to the of the MFL and how they mention that Lobsters have no pain, ” no brain, no cerebral cortex, which in humans it is the area of the brain that gives the experience of pain,” but Wallace claims to be “incorrect.”
He supports this case with multiple further reasoning. Although, Wallace article portrays a controversial view, he can persuade the audience to reflect on the morality of boiling lobsters alive for food consumption. Wallce relies on facts and descriptive details, pathos, logical reasoning, which praises his view on lobsters to an audience of those who attend the Maine Lobster Festival, gourmet food eaters, chefs, those against animal cruelty and the public.
Facts and Details
Wallace uses an immense of detailing to exhibit the the concerns of pain in lobsters and how unnecessary the deaths are, specifically at the Maine lobster festival, also providing factual support for his argument. Wallace depicts how Lobsters are prepared at the Main lobster event and in ones kitchen.Wallace goes into great detail explaining the environment surrounding the Maine lobster festival in order to convey the idea that people ignore the massacre of thousands of lobsters right beside them. When it comes to cooking at home wallaces describes “the lobster will try to cling into the container or even hook its claws… like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of a roof.” he bluntly affirms how lobsters act just like any human that is in pain would.
To prove that Lobsters feel pain Wallace includes sources that confirm lobsters pain. In his article he corrects sources that said Lobsters do not feel pain, when they do, allowing his article to be more credible, and therefore having the audience to really appreciate his knowledge on Lobsters. To further strengthen his point, Wallace points out how when a Lobster is is scrabbling, this shows an important indicator of suffering, concluding that Lobsters do in fact feel pain. According to an article by U.S. News, “Some say the hiss that sounds when crustaceans hit the boiling water is a scream (it’s not, they don’t have vocal cords)” (Koebler, 2013). This leads to an assumption that consumers think lobsters may feel pain as they enter boiling water, but perhaps we do not care enough or enjoy the flavor too much to care.
In addition, Wallace creates appeal to pathos and connects to the readers emotions. When comparing the Maine Lobster Festival to how a Nebraska Beef Festival the audience draws a sense of guilt. Wallace states, “at which part of the festivities is watching trucks pull up and the live cattle get driven down the ramp and slaughtered right there…” Most times people will feel sorrow for the cattles, but what about the Lobster? Wallace applying the context of the cattles and how one feels bad for them but not the Lobsters, also ties with hypocrisy. He outlines this to accurately show the hypocrisy of people’s attitudes surrounding the mass slaughter of the lobsters when they find the mass slaughter of any other animals horrific.
Again, wallace adds a dreadful metaphor, The lobster will sometimes cling to the container’s sides or even hook its claws over the kettle’s rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of a roof,” which really shows how inhumane the general cooking method can seem when envisioning the process of boiling lobster. Another comparison used by Wallace is when he mentions how Lobsters were for the lower class and how feeding lobster was thought to be cruel, once again using a simile, “like making people eat rats.” This draws a sense of disgust and discomfort to the readers.
As Wallace bring disgust to the readers, there are numerous other people who will fully support Wallace. “Lobsters are very good as article of commerce, and pretty enough to look at, after they are boiled but, as to eating them, I prefer castoff rubber shoes” (King, Paragraph 7). Wallace metaphors can be triggering to the audience which can enable to really understand the wrong in boiling lobster what they go through, and but oneself in the perspective of a lobster.
Furthermore, Wallace seeks logical reasoning to properly expand the readers knowledge on Lobsters. When gaining knowledge on Lobsters readers can comprehend and come to realize how unethical and inhumane it is to boil Lobsters. Wallace provides research about the large well-known and highly acclaimed Maine Lobster Festival which thrives each summer. After mentioning the Main Lobster event and including horrifying aspects to the event many individuals may not want to participate in the event after reading Wallace argument. Wallace is able to give the audience clarity and a new understanding to what takes place to have a lobster in one’s plate. Although Lobsters Wallace “discuss the boiling of lobsters with a negative viewpoint, there are many people who truly enjoy eating Lobster and feel no need to stop. Many individuals view Lobsters as “more than food: It is an idea, an event, a challenge, a happening, a celebration and Indulgence” (Phillips, 2013).
Ultimately, Wallace provides support using facts, appeal to pathos, and logical reasoning to why Lobsters should not be boiled/cooked for consumption. Wallace exhibits how Lobsters feel pain and how inhumane it is to kill a Lobster. He is incredibly convincing and allows the audience to truly “consider the Lobster.” After reading Wallace essay one is convinced to really think about the morality of boiling Lobster for consumption and to really ponder about the food one puts in their mouth, partially a lobster, because it was once a living breathing creature.
It Is Time to Consider the Lobster: The Strategy of David Wallace
In David Foster Wallace’s article, Consider the Lobster, Wallace starts this article off explaining the festival he was attending, known as Maine Lobster Festival. Wallace starts by explaining what the Maine Lobster Festival is all about, from the crowd that is drawn in right down to the exact ways the lobsters are treated. He also uses this article to show and turn the readers to the cruelty that the lobsters endure for people’s entertainment. Wallace’s main point is to try and provoke the readers in the morality of cooking and eating of any animals.
“We do not have direct access to anyone or anything’s pain but our own” Wallace uses this quote In the article Consider the Lobster which brings the tone throughout the article as aggressive and all around bothered by the topic on the way animals, but mostly lobsters are treated. There are parts of the article that show the direct focus of aggressiveness and being bothered especially when he starts to talk about the way they are handled and how people do not really see anything wrong with how they are cooked, along with them being able to feel and have human reactions to being boiled. Wallace uses the aggressive tone, to get his point across when stating that it is wrong on the way that us humans treat animals for our own pleasure and entertainment, not only does he have that tone throughout the article you can also get the sense of him just being all around bothered. “… from which you can pick out your supper while it watches you point…” Wallace not only seems to be bothered by the way the animals are cooked but also by the way that the festival is ran, and that people are still attending it without seeing a problem with it. Wallace also brings up the point about this being a part of a cultural divide, by stating that lobster used to be seen as a lower class meal and now they are holding an entire festival surrounding the idea of cooking and eating live lobsters for an entertainment and tourist attraction.
When you begin to read the article you are not sure what to expect or where this is going to go, every sentence seems to contradict the last or not make any sense to why it is being put in there. Wallace beings with talking about the festival and what it does, along with how it attracts people to the area, his main point throughout the article always circled back to the point of it being wrong and inhumane with how the lobsters are treated. Although, Wallace supports his argument about it being wrong to cook lobsters alive he also adds in the fact that many people try and defend it by saying that it does not matter because the lobsters themselves can not feel pain. “We do not have direct access to anyone or anything’s pain but our own”. When Wallace uses that statement he is showing us that not everyone believes the way they are handled matters because they do not believe they can feel pain, but Wallace strongly uses pathos in the middle of the Consider the Lobster.
He uses pathos when he explains what happens at the Maine Lobster Festival and compares it to how a Nebraska Beef Festival could be played out as, by saying “at which part of the festivities is watching trucks pull up and the live cattle get driven down the ramp and slaughtered right there…” this is used as a way to play off the likeliness to feel bad for the cattle and how that would never happen, which in the long run is no different than the way the lobsters are being handled, differently. Using pathos, Wallace is able to pull at the heartstrings of the readers by referencing those two topics, many people do not reference to eating a cow when they are eating beef because of the attachment it gives to the meat. Except when they are referencing to lobsters they do not think anything different about it because as Wallace states “the point is lobsters are basically giant sea-insects”, because of that many people do not bring any attachment to it and do not think twice about eating it, just because it is not a household animal people do not really think there is anything wrong with eating it but say it was a household animal that would be a whole other topic and probably not as common as it is now.
In the article Wallace is back and forth on arguing the points of animals not feeling any pain, to how the animals are used to be tortured as an entertainment purpose and or a gourmet meal for the people, but I believe Consider the Lobster was written to really make you think about the way we all treat animals. Wallace begins to explain the process of what the lobsters and of the chefs who are cooking them have to go through. Not much thought goes behind the cooking of them and everyone just sees it as a gourmet or out of the ordinary main meal. After reading and figuring out But, throughout Consider the Lobster, Wallace makes many main points in supporting his claim that the morality behind cooking and eating lobster is wrong. He makes it very clear that it is an ethical issue with cooking the lobsters. “The lobster in other words, behaves very much as you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water” using this statement gives the readers a sense of guilt for comparing such a human reaction to an animal, and how the thought of it would make anyone uncomfortable.
“A detail so obvious that recipes don’t even bother to mention it is that the lobster is supposed to be alive when you put it in the kettle” when he is talking about cooking the lobsters, Wallace shows that is just apart of the norm to harm the lobster without thinking about the animal itself, that goes to show that our culture has made it normal to inflict pain on the animals just to cook them and enjoy them. Wallace also states that many cooks will have to leave the room because they do not want to hear the process of cooking a live lobster. “Or the creature’s claws scraping the sides of the kettle as it thrashes around” this quote alone shows how bothered Wallace is with the entire process of cooking the lobsters, as everyone should be. If the way we were cooking the lobsters was not wrong then the cooks would not have to leave the room. This does not always have to be only about lobsters, but can be used towards any animals, it is an inhumane way to treat animals.
My final thoughts with reading this article came to the simple fact of how we treat animals is inhumane, David Wallace proved that through Consider the Lobster. After reading this I believe that many people can see the bigger picture to something if they simply take the time and really understood the meaning to it. While Reading this article it really makes you sit back and open your eyes on the way we treat animals everyday. Wallace used an interesting strategy, while reading the article you never know what you are going to read next considering that Wallace was all over the place, leading up to the senstivie topic of animal cruelty that you didn’t see coming. This forced the readers to read what else was happening behind the festival instead of it all being a great thing for tourists to do, this causes us to stop and think about everything that was stated in the article. Consider the Lobster was an interesting read because of all the things Wallace covered, from a festival, to how the animals are treated, and finally just the cultural divide between the classes. I believe this article can and will be used to show the way that humans treat any animal is wrong because it goes into details of what is happening when you cook a lobster and how inhumane it is. All and all this article was very well put even if it did not have a strong structure on where it was going next.
Reverse Sear: a Rhetorical Analysis of “Consider the Lobster”
Gourmet magazine had originally intended for David Foster Wallace to write a harmless review of the annual Maine Lobster Festival (MLF). As the essay continues, the reader notices the transition of a review of the festival into a topic on to the ethics of food consumption, specifically that of the lobster. The rhetorical aim of this essay is not to convince the culinary foodies to abandon their current eating habits, but to tell them that they need to reflect on the culture and ethics of food consumption and how people generally have little sympathy for what they eat. Wallace is able to create a thought-provoking debate, while remaining fairly neutral, through his use of diction, irony, imagery, and persuasive appeals, with an authentic, informative tone throughout the essay.
The diction that Wallace uses begins with rather simplistic word choice. References to the lobster are often negative, calling them “eaters of dead stuff” and ” chewable food” (Wallace 2). The purpose of this word choice is to initially give the readers little to no opinion on lobsters. Over time, Wallace’s diction evolves to become more sophisticated and uses scientific and anatomical words associated with lobsters. He does this because his diction is very much like his readers. It becomes far more articulate and knowledgeable, all in a bid to assimilate with the audience. They may not have an opinion of lobsters in the beginning of the text, but Wallace is slowly able to inject himself into their environment with his word choice, and allow him to change their views on this crustacean. Wallace then uses grotesque diction in the hopes that it will spur some sort of emotion. A “home-lobotomy” (Wallace 6) or a “medieval torture-fest” (Wallace 7), this graphic diction will now be more powerful to the audience now that have adopted Wallace. He proves himself capable of being just as interested in the ethics of lobster as they are with food, and hopefully this diction may have achieved Wallace’s goal, to question the culture and morals of food.
Wallace possesses an authentic, informative tone. Throughout the entirety of the essay, Wallace does not pick a side. The essay composes language that is impartial, and his tone distinguishes him as a moderate. The reader is capable of seeing that he is not like the typical food critic who usually fill up their reviews with pretentious, bloated language. On page 7, Wallace admits that he sees animals as a lesser in comparison to a person. Considering this is a food magazine, many authors would probably put animals on a pedestal. The readers are able to see that he is incredibly truthful in his writings; they can trust that he is not trying to pull any tricks on him. Anything that he is saying here is genuine and has some information to back it. Wallace is now able to get them to realize the deeper meaning to this article and will most likely get them to think critically about the topic, much like how he has exhibited through his writing.
Wallace’s use of persuasive appeals is prevalent throughout the entirety of the essay. He utilizes a series of emotion appeals to get the reader to sympathize with the animal. The main point of conflict in this article is that there is no clear answer as to whether these lobsters would experience the same pain as a human would. Piled together, huddled in a corner, running away from incoming people, these are some of the observations of the lobsters stuck in the glass tanks at the festival (Wallace 7). This paints a vivid picture in the mind of the reader. The actions of the lobsters in the tank are like that of many animals, including humans. Wallace is able to show to the audience that these animals are distressed, they are suffering, and that their struggles need notice. Prior to this, most would not care for a lobster in a tank, but they are now questioning the possibility of lobsters experiencing the same emotions humans do. Some lobsters cook in a microwave after having been poked with “several extra vent holes in the carapace” (Wallace 6). What Wallace is trying to do here is to provide the audience with horrifying details of the cooking process. While some may still not be moved, Wallace’s main goal is to get the pot simmering; he wants people to think about what they eat. He admits that even he will most likely not change his eating habits, but he certainly has a new view of food now.
Wallace employs irony as a way to get the reader to further question the culture of how people eat food. The MLF claims that lobsters are both a healthy food choice and creatures incapable of feeling pain. Wallace refutes these claims by stating that the festival sells lobsters with ounces of butter and unhealthy sides (Wallace 3), and that lobsters contain body parts that may allow them to experience pain (Wallace 6). Doing this allows Wallace to show the readers that the festival is presenting a false imagination for the visitors. Some may even interpret this as a blatant lie in trying to reel in more attendees. Wallace provides them with the possibility that this is a cash grab, and humans have little to no morals of the animals that they consume.
Wallace’s use of imagery allows him to provide the audience a new perspective of the food festivals that they hold very near and dear to their hearts. Considering that these foodies have most likely frequented these events in the past, they typically have a generally positive opinion of them. Wallace ruins this by meticulously describing some pitfalls of the MLF such as “aisle-blocking coolers” or the death match for “NyQuil-cup size samples” (Wallace 3). The readers are able to recount all the events that they have attended themselves. It is not shocking when they see that most of the festivals have some aspects to it that spoil the entirety of it. Wallace then presents the readers with a hypothetical cow festival, similar to the MLF, where he refers to it as the “World’s Largest Killing Floor” (Wallace 5). He utilizes this to get the reader to question why they even bother to go to these festivals. They all seem to have some sort of negative connotation with them, yet they still go. Switching the type of animal being killed makes these festivals appear as a glorification of slaughter. All of these negatives enable the readers to have second thoughts on the purpose of these events.
Wallace wants the audience to take a look at the ethics of food and the culture associated with it. Through his excellent use of emotional appeals and style, he is able to give the readers with a rather profound effect that causes them to think critically of how low people hold the food they consume. The effect of the article will vary among the readers, but it certainly has affected Wallace, and he hopes that carries on to them. The readers all have new perspectives on food consumption thanks to Wallace, regardless of whether they change their eating habits.
- Wallace, David Foster. “Consider the Lobster.” Consider the Lobster, Aug. 2004.
Finding the Compassion for Animals in Wallace’s Consider the Lobster
The majority of people don’t think about the process that some animals go through prior to becoming their meals. The purpose of “Consider the Lobster” was to shine a light of unethical practices being done to animals, more specifically, the treatment of lobsters at said festival. In 2003, Foster Wallace attended the Maine Lobster Festival and wrote this piece for a magazine called Gourmet that published his work the following year. The intended audience is people who enjoy food, those who are interested in topics like this, and arguably chefs who use live ingredients in their dishes. Foster Wallace gets the audience thinking about other aspects of the Main Lobster Festival rather than being one dimensional with the consumers’ pleasure only in mind. His writing was successful in displaying the controversial practices through the use of rhetoric and sharing information from his extensive research.
As Foster Wallace begins his article, he describes the festivities and its attraction for tourists. At the beginning, it seemed like a very standard review of what goes on at the festival stating, “Tourism and lobster are the midcoast region’s two main industries … and the Maine Lobster Festival represents less an intersection of the industries than a deliberate collision, joyful and lucrative and loud” (Wallace, 2004, p.50). As it progresses, Foster Wallace speaks for the lobsters, presenting another frame of reference. Then switches gears to express how these lobsters are treated during their final moments. He pointed out what many of us would have turned a blind eye towards and it is something that should be more recognized even if it is an uncomfortable topic to discuss. No one wants to consider the well being of these animals since they are just going to be food at the end of it and would rather enjoy what they are consuming without that thought in the back of their minds. Foster Wallace doesn’t insist that people should stop eating the foods they love just because the lobsters, and animals in general, would be in immense pain. He informs that there are other methods of cooking that would be less painful and to just be more aware of their perspective.
The tone of the article helps Foster Wallace to project his feelings and thoughts about the topic of his writing. He asks questions about comparing future generations of how we choose to consume our foods just as how we negatively view Aztec sacrifices in early history. Which to his response “My own immediate reaction is that such a comparison is hysterical, extreme- and yet the reason it seems extreme to me appears to be that I believe that animals are less morally important than human beings” (Wallace, 2004, 64). His attitude towards this topic is bothersome and feels the need to be brutally honest with his audience. The tone is achieved by Foster Wallace adding his own opinion where it is deemed necessary to further his argument. Whether people want to hear about the unethical practices being done on animals or not, it is important to at least acknowledge this element.
Providing Facts and Details
Reading throughout his piece, Foster Wallace presents a rhetorical appeal, ethos by a great deal of research that was done previously before the actual writing began. Everyone is knowledgeable of the basics of a lobster but Wallace takes it one step further goes into great depth of how lobsters are classified among the other species in the world and where its name originated from (Wallace, 2004, p.55). Not many people would have this kind of knowledge of something so simple as a lobster. For Wallace to spend his time researching this information shows his intelligence and that the content of his piece is reliable. This shows that Foster Wallace is personally interested in the unethical practices being done at certain events and wants the audience to be able to see things from a different angle. He has a lot to say about the Maine Lobster Festival but also provides actual facts to back up his claims throughout the article.
By sharing intricate details of lobsters that are otherwise difficult to understand by ordinary people, it provides knowledge that the audience would need to make their own conclusions as well as using logos by giving factual information to further prove his credibility. There are also facts on the number of ways a lobster can be cooked along with the research done that help strengthen Foster Wallace’s believeableness. He addresses the different cook times that will bring different pain levels to the lobsters. For example, baking would be more painful since it would require the lobster to be under heat for a longer period of time. While microwaving is a shorter amount of cook time but the pain that the lobsters would feel decreases drastically (Wallace, 2004, p.56). He describes the matter in simplistic terms so the reader can easily follow his findings, which leads to an understanding of Foster Wallace’s argument. Stating specific details about lobsters gives more insight into how they operate but also help strengthen Foster Wallace’s point that they have the ability to feel pain. By building background information on lobsters, it displays his trustworthiness of explaining precise information.
He gives these lobsters human-like characteristics that many people are able to comprehend and apply it to themselves. Wallace shares how the lobsters are being boiled alive but give them feelings that people are able to relate with stating that “it is difficult not to sense that they’re unhappy, or frightened, even if it’s some rudimentary version of these feelings” (Wallace, 2004, p.64). Of the lobsters physical suffering allowed Foster Wallace to use pathos to persuade the audience to better understand what they feel moments before death while still strengthening his credibility. Pain is something people can relate to easily and makes the audience think about how the lobsters are being treated in certain types of situations like festivals. Emotion is involved, which is the use of pathos, that allows the readers to possibly feel the same discomfort and vulnerability that these lobsters were experiencing. When the readers start to realize this different point of view and start asking questions like is it okay to treat lobsters in this manner?
In Foster Wallace’s argument, it is not okay to treat these animals as if they are any lesser than humans. Every detail that was written is meant to leave the audience with this thought that will hopefully linger in the minds of people as they enjoy their next meal. With that being said, he doesn’t discourage the consumption of these animals just that people should gain awareness of these practices. By providing a considerable amount of research and the use of ethos, pathos, and logos hat established his credibility, Foster Wallace presents a convincing argument that there needs to be some compassion for these animals before eating them.
Using Of Living Animals According to Consider the Lobster Essay
The Novelist and essayist David Foster Wallace, in the title essay “Consider the Lobster,” finds it curious that lobster is the one creature that is usually cooked while still alive. His observations leads to question our justifications for eating lobster and any other animals we eat altogether. Wallace mentions his claims and arguments on how he feels that cooking a live lobster to be unethical. In the essay, he mentions many reasons why this is an unethical practice. He personifies the lobster, he mentions how no one life is more important than another and he believes all life should be created equal. He argues that people should feel some form of empathy over these lobsters.
Wallace makes very clear that he forbids the act of harming any animal. He strictly enforces how we should feel empathy for the lobsters being cooked alive because people simply don’t understand anyone else’s pain but your own:
“Since pain is a totally subjective mental experience, we do not have direct access to anyone or anything’s pain but our own; and even just the principles by which we can infer that other human beings experience pain and have a legitimate interest in not feeling pain involve hard core philosophy.”
Wallace informs the readers that we have no idea if other animals/lobsters feel pain so why exactly is it right to make a lobster suffer in a boiling hot pot of water? Wallace does a great job arguing on how he personifies lobsters. He personifies the lobsters because they act similar in way when they are being cooked and ready to be eaten: “The lobster will sometimes try to cling to the container’s sides or even hook its claws over the kettle’s rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of a roof.” Wallace is informing the reader that we act in similar ways than lobsters, we would do a similar thing to try and stay alive if we were being dropped in a pot ready to be cooked alive.
Wallace also argues that no one life is more important than another. In this instance he is basically saying that human lives are not any more important than animals lives. Wallace names the whole animal-cruelty-and-eating-issue as an “uncomfortable” thing to do because some animals suffer. There are two main points that most ethics agree on for whether a living animal has the capacity to suffer. “One is how much of the neurological hardware required for pain-experience the animal comes equipped with. And the other criterion is whether the animal demonstrates behavior associated with pain.” And according to Wallace and the many of people that may have witnessed this, but lobsters act in both of those main points.
Wallace is correct when he states that animal cruelty is really not right. Wallace is also partially correct when he states that eating lobster is unethical because of reasons toward empathy. My reasoning for partially agreeing with Wallace is that I don’t agree with how making lobsters suffer and them eating them is right. I am in full support for eating lobster because it can be a very enjoyable meal. But thinking deeper after hearing Wallace’s arguments makes me think differently about preparing a lobster dinner. To some readers this appeal can persuade people’s opinions on the fact that eating lobster is unethical. The big factor of why people might change their opinions on how eating lobster is unethical is because of empathy. Some people, like David Foster Wallace, believe that a lobster’s life should be no more important than another human. The readers that have the ability to empathize with Wallace’s arguments are the ones that will be persuaded to think again before eating lobster.
On the other hand, maybe some readers can be persuaded about eating lobster because of empathy but in the world we live in there will always be those people that will disagree with the argument Wallace makes. Which also makes me think deeper about it and partially disagree with Wallace’s thinking. One reason why I would disagree with his argument because humans have been eating lobster their entire life. There are not many people like David Foster Wallace that disagrees with the people eating lobster. It makes me think of how humans eat meat like steak, chicken and pork. Those three foods come from an animal and we barely stop to think about how those animals might feel. Most people might argue that “all life eventually dies” and I can agree with that and by eating meats and eating lobster that to some people may be a ethical practice to stay alive and in shape.
To support why I would disagree with Wallace’s argument is because of an article from a New York Times magazine by the author Jay Bost who wrote “Sometimes It’s More Ethical To Eat Meat than Vegetables.” Bost wrote primarily about how eating meat is more ethical than eating vegetables and Bost has a few arguments to support his thinking:
“For me, eating meat is ethical when one does three things. First, you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine this realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks.”
To sum that up his arguments basically say that one, all life is basically “solar energy” in a form that will eventually die at sometime, second because they will eventually die and it’s just ethically how humans get their protein intake in this world. And lastly, because we give thanks to all the meat. The real reason why this evidence complicates Wallace’s appeal is that eating food that biologically comes from animals is a really ethical thing that humans do.
When you come to realize this topic, people like Jay Bost and many other people make a good argument. To think all life dies at some point in time, it makes a lot of people think that eating meats and any food that comes from living animals not seem too unethical. The principle that Wallace describes is that animals like lobsters have to suffer by being cooked alive in a boiling pot of water. Some may empathize with his thinking but it is not a universal value that everyone shares. Before reading his essay I never really understood what kind of wrong I was doing by making a nice lobster bake with family members over the summer. But after reading the essay, Wallace made me think more deeply about how this principle may be an unethical practice. I think the ultimate goal that came out of this essay was not to persuade people to believe that eating lobster is unethical, I believe this essay was written to make reader think more deeply about eating lobster.
An Act Of Harming Animals in an Article By David Foster Wallace
Consider the Lobster
David Foster Wallace is a well-known American writer, that discreetly challenges reader’s moral view points in the article “Consider the Lobster”. Through his creative writing style and his structure of the article, one can assume his stance on the moral issue if boiling a lobster alive is just or not, but one could argue both sides of the debate. The Maine Lobster Festival is a yearly tradition that receives a lot of attention, some bad, some good. The Maine Lobster Festival was once a huge celebration until the group PETA came to bring awareness to the inhumane actions of boiling a lobster. After reading “Consider the Lobster” I was compelled to agree with the underlying thesis, questioning the inhumane actions of boiling a lobster when concrete evidence shows that lobsters indeed feel pain, and from their behavior it proves that lobster do suffer.
Lobster is a species that are a delicacy to have eaten. What if people knew that this delicacy caused pain to the creature, and what if you were the one that directly had to inflict this pain and torturous death? It’s easy for some individuals to eat food and mentally block out how this tasty lobster roll ended up in their hand, but they may be ignoring an inhumane action. Human species should question whether what we are doing is humane or not. “The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals thinks that the morality of lobster-boiling is not just a matter of individual conscience” (Wallace 60). First, one must acknowledge that we are only able to feel the pain we receive; we can’t feel the pain our friends or family or other species feel, so we should not be so quick to assume and act on our assumptions. Pain is a subjective mental experience, and from this experience we can tell what is painful to us and from observation we can tell what is painful for others. When a chef puts a live lobster into a pot with boiling water and hears scratching and sees that the lobster is clinging to the top and a chef must leave the kitchen it’s clear that the chef is uncomfortable. This uncomfortableness is a sign that boiling a live lobster is wrong, and to deal with this one tends to avoid thinking about what is truly happening. If the chef that must leave the kitchen had to do a self-examination of his or her actions, it would be clear that they conflict with their actions. This proves that boiling a lobster is not natural, and it causes conflict with one’s morality creating this uncomfortable feeling. Imagine going to a festival but rather than eating lobster there was cat and dog being served. Most likely more people would have a problem with physically having to boiling a cat or dog and couldn’t bar the sight of it. How is boiling a lobster any different? Therefore, the only way people can justify boiling a lobster alive is just for their own enjoyment and gustatory experience. This is not a moral justification to dismiss the cruel and immoral actions of boiling a lobster.
Lobsters are a part of the aquatic arthropod within the Crustacea family which comes from the phylum Arthropoda. The species in this phylum lack a centralized brain and spine assemble. They have an exoskeleton composed of segments similar to a giant insect. “The nervous system of a lobster is very simple, and is in fact most similar to the nervous system of a grasshopper” (Wallace 62). Lobsters and grasshoppers are similar because the both lack a centralized brain like humans. Creating the argument that they do not have a nervous system similar to humans is a difficult and not relatable comparison being that we come from different species. A lobster’s nervous system operates from multiple ganglia making them extremely sensitive to touch especially along their underbelly. The Maine Lobster Promotional Council tried claiming that there is no cerebral cortex in lobster, which in humans is the area of the brain that gives the experience of pain. Later this claim was proven to be “fuzzy or false”(Wallace 62), creating no evidence that lobsters have no nervous system or a sense of pain. Lobsters do indeed have a nervous system and are highly sensitive creatures that can detect change. Since they have clusters of ganglia it actually makes then more sensitive in certain areas than humans. In order to keep a large amount of lobsters in a tank they have to be tied up and bandaged to keep them from hurting themselves or other lobsters in a tank due to the stress of captivity. If lobsters didn’t have a nervous system, they wouldn’t’ t be able to detect a stressful situation therefore supporting that lobster have a nervous system.
A clear assessment to determine whether an animal is capable of suffering is observing the animal’s behavior to see if it has any association with pain. When a lobster is trying to be placed in a steaming kettle, it first tries to attach its claws onto the rim of the kettle to try and prevent being placed in boiling water. The lobster then tries to cling onto the containers’ sides- trying to escape. A chef can hear the lobster rattling around, creating a lot of unsettling motion indicating that they are in tremendous pain. Lobsters can also detect change in temperature, because they migrate out into deeper water for warmth in autumn. This is a clear indication from their behavior that a lobster can feel pain and do suffer. David Foster Wallace gives the comparison that lobsters react very similar to if a human were to be placed in a pot of boiling water. Therefore, one can conclude that lobster do indeed experience suffering.
Finally, from the arguments of David Foster Wallace regarding whether boiling lobster alive is morally wrong are proven through not only the actions of a lobster and the biological evidence from their nervous system but from the natural uncomfortable response from humans. Overall, David Foster Wallace has the reader consider moral choices, and with the information provided, it is hard to argue against the fact that killing a lobster is humane. If one believes that killing a lobster by boiling it alive is humane, then they must apply this belief to all species, and ask themselves if it is okay to kill any innocent animal this way. This is a larger ethical question our society has proposed multiple times, as arguments for vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise. As a society, we do not have the right to dictate another species life and end innocent animals lives simply for the pleasure of our own.
David F. Wallace’s Fight for Animal Rights in His Work Consider the Lobster
Animal-rights’ is an important, but touchy, subject. No one wants to feel that they are intentionally doing something wrong or harmful; which can possibly include eating an animal that was killed specifically for their consumption. In a Gourmet article issued in August of 2004, readers are spiked with controversial, thought-provoking ideas about animal rights. They are provided with the example of how lobsters are cooked alive at a festival in Maine every year. David F. Wallace effectively grasps the reader in Consider the Lobster by his use of pathos in his diction, quotes, and thought-provoking structure about how and why it is wrong to treat animals inhumanely, but is ineffective in supporting this idea, and shows logos in his tone, because he does not provide solutions to treating them this way, and changes his diction about his views towards animal’s rights.
In an effectively powerful way, Wallace shows how treating animals inhumanely for consumption is wrong by simply posing the question, “Is it alright to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?” (Wallace, 60). By providing this question, he makes people really think about the issue of inhumane animal treatment by using examples of pathos. When he poses this question, people are given the image of an animal being boiled alive, and it instantly connects with their emotion and creates mental images. Wallace talks about how the Maine Lobster Festival is a festival that publicly cooks and consumes live animals right in front of people. He appeals to Gourmet reader’s minds when he compares the Maine Lobster festival to a theoretical one, “Try to imagine a Nebraska Beef Festival at which part of the festivities is watching trucks pull up and the live cattle get driven down the ramp and slaughtered right there…” (Wallace, 62). His premise is very strong and appeals to the readers of Gourmet magazine because it compares the Lobster festival in a parallel way with any other animal in a similar situation. He shows us that for some reason it would be a more horrific sight to be able to pick out a cow rather than a lobster, and watch it be slaughtered and cooked right before the consumer’s eyes. He adds a quote from an outside source, “Lobsters are extraordinarily sensitive. To me, eating a lobster is out of the question” (Wallace 60). By including this quote stated by Mary Tyler Moore, David Wallace adds power to his argument on why treating even lobsters is wrong. He shows that others support the animal rights aspect of his argument and that it is a big controversial topic amongst most humans.
Using logos, Wallace begins to contradict his feelings about animal-rights, and is ineffective in supporting his fist ideas. He does not give ideas on how to solve problems about how animals are treated wrongly before they are set on the dinner table. In the article Wallace states, “Before we go any further, let’s acknowledge that the questions of whether and how different kinds of animals feel pain, and of whether and why it might be justifiable to inflict pain on them in order to eat them, turn out to be extremely complex and difficult” (Wallace, 62). Although his strategy here may be to show that their pain may not be intense enough to hurt them that much when being boiled alive, he shows that he has no proof of the pain they may feel. Here he begins to explain that lobsters may feel pain differently than any other animal, but also that it is unknown what kind of pain they feel or how intense it may be. He is only making the reader think about how animals feel pain in different ways, but no solution to his initial claim on how terrible it must be for that dying animal. Throughout this paragraph, he describes different nerve receptors they have, and what kind of pain they could possibly feel, as he also does on the following page, “…it’s more that they feel it (pain) but don’t feel anything about it…There is, after all, a difference between (1) pain as a purely neurological event, and (2) actual suffering” (Wallace, 63). He continues to show how pain could be inflicted on them and what they feel, but no ideas on how to solve the issue of animal cruelty that he rants on about. On the very last page of his rhetoric, he writes, “…I have an obvious selfish interest in this belief, since I like to eat certain kinds of animals and want to be able to keep doing it, and I have not succeeded in working out any sort of personal ethical system in which the belief is truly defensible instead of just selfishly convenient” (Wallace, 64). Here he is even admitting to not showing a real explanation at what could possibly be done to justify the wrong treatment of killing animals for consumption. He is showing that he is ineffective in providing a way to solve the problem itself, and changes his diction to one that is opposite of his original argument.
Throughout David F. Wallace’s, Consider the Lobster, it is shown that this man obviously cares enough about animals to have written a seven-page rant about it for Gourmet magazine. He begins his article using diction that shows that he feels bad for these poor lobsters that are cooked alive. He later changes his diction and shows only possibilities of how they may experience pain. Although he is effective in showing his concern for lobsters and other animals that may be treated inhumanely, he is ineffective in providing any sort of solution to how this problem could be fixed. He is almost ironic in his words because he preaches about why this is wrong. Initially, the article is one that supports animal’s rights, and questions if it is savage to treat them wrongfully and intentionally inflict pain on them. By the end of the article, Wallace, it seems, changes his mind on how he feels about this topic by admitting he has a “selfish interest” in eating animals, even considering the consequences they wrongly experience.
“Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace
Lobster is one of my much-loved seafood dishes due to its delicate rich flavored meat, however, after reading this article I have a change of mind. “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace is a controversial article to whether or not it is humane to drop a live lobster in a pot of boiling water. He brought up the question is it right to boil a live lobster just for one’s desire, quite thought-provoking. Thus, he had convinced me to his viewpoints on logos, ethos, and pathos. I believe Wallace uses description to deliberate the meaning of pain to convince and gain my heart he includes definitions about taxonomical terms and references to prove his point while he compares and contrast different viewpoints on this specific matter. In order for Wallace to get his point across in the first paragraph he described what Main Lobster Festival was, he expressed it in the first person which allowed me to see stuff from his perspective and to understand how he felt towards this subject.
In the article, it’s evident Wallace tends to show pathos the most, where he includes foot and end notes voicing his opinion and stance on a precise segment of the article which allows him to bring a new perspective up. To get his stance across he uses a lot of rhetorical strategies that I myself had to contemplate. His strategies made me ponder on several other viewpoints such as the lobsters, chefs, and meat lovers. Wallace captures the use of pathos in a way that would be very convincing as he compared and contrasted the lobsters to humans. He drew me in when he stated, “the lobster will sometimes cling to the container’s sides or even to hook its claw over the kettle’s rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of the roof. Giving me a sense of remorse for the lobster as if I were the creature being placed into a pot of boiling water.
In addition, he compares the Main Lobster Festival to Nebraska beef Festival. he states a few of the festivities but the one he emphasized most on was “watching trucks pull up and the live cattle get driven down the ramp and slaughtered right there” screening that image in my head I naturally had the tendency to feel guilty which was Wallace’s main point to why is it that one feels bad for the cattle, but not the lobster, there is not a difference in my eyes. Furthermore, that is when Wallace introduced me to the ethos side of the argument where he sways me that it is, in fact, inhumane to boil a lobster alive when he stated “It is difficult not to sense that they’re unhappy, or frightened, even if it’s some rudimentary version of these feelings,” showing we should not judge and treat the lobster better or worse based on what pain level they feel. His perspective made me consider the lobster more just by that consideration.
However, Wallace brings up the argument that one may think they have the rights to eating a lobster because they are not human. Wallace proves this theory that people defends that assumption. At the Main Lobster Festival, there was a” Test Your Lobster IQ Test” conducted where it stated that lobsters have simple nervous systems like those of a worm or grasshopper. He explained a particular case where he questioned a man named dick whose son in law so happens to be a professional lobsterman and one of the Main Eating Tent’s regular suppliers who argues that lobsters are simply just a large sea insect he goes on to say “there’s a part of the brain in people and animal that lets us feel pain and lobsters don’t have these parts” Wallace denies Dick’s son in law beliefs by giving his own insight in his footnote elaborating on why the cerebral cortex in the human brain is actually not what gives experience of pain “ the cerebral cortex is the brain-part that deals with higher faculties like reason, metaphysical self-awareness, language etc.” He goes on to give in his own opinions how pain is experienced by articulating someone accidentally touching a hot stove and yanking there hand back do not involve the cortex the brain is bypassed altogether and all the neurochemical actions take place in the spine.
Not to mention some consider “lobsters are not human” to the motive to why lobsters do not need ethical concern. Which brings me to the conclusion that if lobsters aren’t human neither are cats and dogs. Wallace has me curious as to why is that we humans are defensive when it comes on to cats or abused dog but not a lobster they are all non-human creatures. On the contrary, Wallace began to shift his ideas to Logos which is the “appeal based on logical or reason”. According to precise evidence, lobsters have neurotransmitters that are more similar to those in a human which allows them to register pain.
Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words in Consider the Lobster by David Wallace
In this passage from David Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, there are many deep thoughts ingrained within the passage and the author himself discusses many of his actions with regards to what he is saying. Given this, he is not always recognized for being consistent – at points he will address a section stating something about it and then he seems to act in the opposite manner when continuing on with his footnotes. But do his actions speak louder than his words in this sense or are they just looked upon differently?
He starts off this particular excerpt with a strong sentence stating, “the issues surrounding ‘correctness’ in contemporary American usage are both vexed and highly charged, and that the fundamental questions they involve are ones whose answers have to be literally worked out instead of merely found” (293). This relates back to how actions have some stance with that of words, in that sometimes to better understand what someone is trying to communicate, it is best to experience it yourself. Some of Wallace’s experiences are discussed in the footnotes, particularly ones about how he is a college professor himself, and how he has to engrain information into students proper English the beginning of each semester. But at the end of the day, what he lays out for students could be completely disregard until it pertains to them later on in their life. Wallace kind of critiques Garner for not necessarily connecting with his audience, as Wallace acts in a manner through his passage to make more of an effort to do so.
As readers ourselves, Wallace brings up a strong point when he mentions that, “we regular citizens tend to go to The Dictionary for authoritative guidance. Rarely, however, do we ask ourselves who exactly decides what gets in The Dictionary or what words or spellings or pronunciations get deemed correct” (295). This is a fault of pretty much any person that has used a dictionary, we as a society depend on it when we aren’t clear and just trust what is presented before us. Alongside this, Wallace praises Garner for his creation, then the next he degrades him by critiquing how said words are spelled. He attacks his actions with regards to numbers in the footnotes, when Garner uses numerical symbols for words after “ten”, when Wallace emphasizes he was taught it was correct to physically spell out the number until it reached “nineteen”. At another point right after the quote above, Wallace includes in his footnotes that we do not question what is laid out in front of us, and includes a personal story about how his father is still mad at those who decided decades ago in 1984 that meringue should be spelled the way it is. This creates a discrepancy for what Wallace expresses for readers, where at points they are torn with to side with Wallace himself or with Garner. On one hand, Wallace creates this personal connection or relationship with readers themselves, per say while Garner is distinguished on paper and has his accomplishments with the dictionary he got published. Based off his footnotes, it seems as though Wallace has a great appreciation for Garner and for his work, but he brings into the question of why is what he says what follows for the remaining society. By incorporating these experiences and opinions, Wallace is encouraging readers to not always accept what is plain said, and how people get more out of a simple definition when it relates somehow to them.
As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”, but it is clear that this is not always the case with this given passage. David Wallace uses his words in the passage, his footnotes more specifically, to connect with readers and allow for a stronger understanding of the ideas being conveyed. Yes, at a few points, his actions with his experience can tend to shy away from what he has previously said, but as a whole Wallace uses this way of communication to leave readers with a bigger message to walk away from the excerpt with.
The Justification of Posh Delicacy in Consider the Lobster, an Essay by David Foster Wallace
In David Foster Wallace’s, Consider The Lobster, he questions the justification of eating not only lobster but animals all together. Raising questions on the morals, escapades, and activities we use and participate in. While also considering how we interpret pain and suffering as a species. Within that he discusses the history of lobster and how it became the “posh delicacy”(Wallace 461) it is today. Beginning with the original uses for lobster, Wallace points out that up until the eighteen-hundreds lobster was a considered a poor mans meal. In early American colonies there had even been laws forbidding the feeding of lobster to prisoners more than once per week because it had been sought to be “cruel and unusual” and even comparable to “making people eat rats” (Wallace 460). Back in this time the number of lobsters available in the New England waters was far more substantial than the amount seen today. Because of this lobster was seen as something anyone could eat and or use, especially lower class citizens. The rise in popularity first only began on the terms that lobster at the time was affordable for anyone and high in protein.
So why is lobster now seen, in modern times, as a status symbol? As time continued the popularity of lobster began to grow for other reasons besides its affordability. The population of lobster began to decline just as the middle class was in search for a meal that could evolve into a comparable circumstance to that of champagne (Champagne was the seventeen-eighties royals beverage that could be waved above the lower class’ heads). Back into the early eighteen hundreds the abundance of lobster sparked chefs, particularly on trains, to market the lobster as an exotic meal causing people to request it more and more outside of the transportation networks. With the increase in popularity a decrease in abundance occurred only making lobster that much more desirable. Prices began to rise and lobster went from a meal “eaten only by the poor and institutionalized” (Wallace 460) to “the seafood analog to steak”(Wallace 461).
Similarly, in Jay Bost’s, Sometimes It’s More Ethical to Eat Meat Than Vegetables, Bost discusses his own reasoning behind his decision to return to meat-eating simply stating “eating meat in specific circumstances is ethical” (Bost 1). Based on Bost’s own research and understanding eating of animals can be considered the most ethical option depending on each individual’s location. For example, in areas of Arizona, Bost mentions that the proper care of cattle can ultimately result in the consumption of proper “condensed calories and protein with the aid of the microorganisms in its gut.”(Bost 2) Taking a slightly alternate perspective on the topic there’s is also the idea that in areas, like the “scrubby grasslands”(Bost 2) of Arizona, there may be an overuse of natural resources resulting in land degradation. Meaning that when a certain plot of land is used repeatedly for the same crop type the soil begins to degrade over time preventing the crops from receiving the proper nutrients to grow, as well as simply destroying the soil. With the raising of animals the soil has a higher chance of avoiding degradation and intaking the proper nutrients it would need to flourish. The animals, that are ultimately fed to people, are able to consume the plants that have been properly grown and are able to give those who eat meat the proper proteins, calories, and nutrients humans need to survive. As Bost mentions this outlook on meat-eating “looks much cleaner than the fossil-soaked scheme..” (Bost 2). Taking an alternate route into modern day meat production can be a ecological and ethically positive endeavor just in the simple cases that, when done correctly, “are able to to cycle nutrients, aid in land management, and convert sun to food in ways that are nearly impossible for us to do without fossil fuel” (Bost 3).
Bost concludes his writings with what he believes is the three reasons meat eating can be ethical so long as “you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks” (Bost 5). The problem with these statements is the fact that not all people are going to agree with Bost’s ideology on why meat eating is ethical. Bost believes that if the things mentioned above are done then meat eating can be ethical. Others, such as an animal advocate, may feel that even though you are choosing to consume animals that were raised in good conditions, realizing that in the grand scheme of things all living things eventually die, and giving thanks, that it is still in the wrong to consume animal at all. In some sense it isn’t just about the way in which the animals are raised but the basis of eating them in general others may deem as unethical. As David Foster Wallace discusses in Consider The Lobster, if lobsters are able to feel pain and humans are capable of acknowledging the pain that animals feel then would it still be considered ethical to eat them?