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Under the Influence by Scott Russell Sanders

In the essay “Under the Influence,” Scott Russell Sanders uses metaphors and comparisons to describe his father’s drinking, and the connection of his excessive working and compares those two addictions. First, he talks in detail about his father’s excessive abuse of alcohol, emphasizing the transformation of this father every time he had a drink. Sander’s own daughter felt that he, too, housed an addiction, and eventually gave him a placard labeling him a “workaholic”. One of the metaphors in which Sanders illustrates his father’s compulsive consumption of alcohol in this passage, “I use the past tense not because he never quit drinking but because he quit living” (138). In this example, Sanders is emphasizing how the alcoholism that his father faced began to ruin his life, and became a necessary means of living. He forgot how to live without being intoxicated. Life was no longer enjoyable, but instead was a turbulent wave that crashed each time he gave in to the booze. Sander’s use of figurative language to describe his father’s drinking is successful in demonstrating to the reader the terror that can be of his fathers alcoholism, “Shaking her head out mother stubs out the cigarette he has left smoking in the ash try” (138), is illustrate how his father was very irresponsible and pitiful without even realizing it. Sanders could tell that his father drank entirely too much, even as a small child because of the care that he lacked. His poor mother had to pick up after his father more than she had to pick up after him. His father did not even realize the extent of his pathetic behaviors, even after falling asleep with a burning cigarette in his poisoned hand. Loss of control plays a central theme in this essay as well. Sanders compares his father to “Dr. Jekyll becoming Mr. Hyde” (143), these allusions describe how the alcohol would seem to transform his father. He goes on to say “I c...

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Under the Influence by Scott Russell Sanders. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:35, January 28, 2015, from