Critical analysis of David Sedaris’ ‘Naked Cyclops’

The following paper provides an analysis of the essay Cyclops which is based on the various reflections of his life from his book “Naked”. David Sedaris’ Cyclops talks on his life experience both failures and triumphs under the care of his parents. Using satire as one of his stylistic devices, the essay is one of many issues that communicate his unconventional upbringing to his readers. The Cyclops alone is a provocative title that is reflective of his personality as a writer in his own league.


The Cyclops is a metaphoric name for Sedaris which is representative of his life in the earlier times of his life. At the center of the essay is the lecture that his father gives them about the way he removed the eye of his friend by mistake. This is to warn his children of the consequences of not taking caution in all aspects of life. This affects his sister Tiffany, who throws a sharp pencil at his brother during their regular fights. The stories have as result in scared Sedaris and his siblings to the extent that Tiffany cannot lift a pencil without having an outburst (Sedaris, p. 14).

The essay sets itself apart from other forms of literature due to the merging of a number of stories. A look at the essay, however, shows the relationship between Sedaris and all his family members. The Cyclops is also a word inspired by his Greek heritage which is part and parcel of his cultural orientation. The essay accounts for the number of stories his parents pass down to their children as a form of caution and life lessons “I haven’t the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.” (Sedaris, p. 10).

With his mother being a protestant and his father a Greek national of orthodox denomination, the story displays the clashes the family experiences due to the presence of different religious principles in the family “We were not a hugging people. In terms of emotional comfort, it was our belief that no amount of physical contact could match the healing powers of a well-made cocktail”. His family is nevertheless dysfunctional making them social misfits in society. Brought up by an alcoholic father and neurotic mother, he tells stories of the way in which his parents raise their children. He also addresses his sexual as a homosexual living in the suburbs of North Carolina. “Hugh and I have been together for so long that in order to arouse extraordinary passion, we need to engage in physical combat”. The Cyclops compares the writer’s current life with that of the stories told to him by his father. He mentions how all his siblings have grown into their own despite the lessons that always end up with a tragic end (Sedaris, p. 12).

In conclusion, as stated earlier, Sedaris features several essays which have different storylines. These stories are intended to educate his readers on the various incidences that one may encounter in life. The Cyclops acts as a guide on how to go about life in the most unnatural way. This makes Sedaris’ collection gain the extensive acclaim he continues to enjoy to date.

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