Jesus Shaves by David Sedaris

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 524 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 25, 2024

Words: 524|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 25, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraphs
  3. Counterarguments
  4. Conclusion
  5. References


David Sedaris, a renowned American humorist, essayist, and radio contributor, has a knack for transforming seemingly mundane experiences into captivating narratives. In his essay "Jesus Shaves," Sedaris recounts a series of language-learning experiences in a French class, highlighting the humorous aspects of cultural misunderstanding and the challenges of mastering a new language. This essay will analyze the role of humor and cultural misunderstanding in "Jesus Shaves," providing insights into their implications and effects on the reader's engagement with the text.

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Body Paragraphs

Humor plays a pivotal role in "Jesus Shaves," as it engages the reader and invites them to share in Sedaris' amusement at the absurdity of the situations he encounters. Sedaris employs various forms of humor, such as wordplay, situational irony, and self-deprecation, to create a lighthearted atmosphere that captivates the reader's attention. For example, Sedaris describes his classmate's attempt to explain her husband's profession, which results in the comical declaration, "He is responsible for many important erections" (Sedaris, 1997, p. 128). This humorous anecdote not only entertains the reader but also underscores the challenges of learning a new language and the potential for miscommunication.

Cultural misunderstanding is another key element in "Jesus Shaves." Sedaris illustrates the complexities of navigating a new culture and language through the experiences of his diverse classmates. Each student brings their unique cultural background to the classroom, leading to a series of humorous and enlightening exchanges. For instance, Sedaris describes a Moroccan classmate who insists on using the phrase "My dead father" instead of "My late father," as the latter phrase is considered disrespectful in his culture (Sedaris, 1997, p. 126). This example demonstrates how cultural norms and expectations can vary significantly, leading to misunderstandings and miscommunications.

The combination of humor and cultural misunderstanding in "Jesus Shaves" serves to engage the reader and create a sense of empathy and connection. By sharing his own struggles with language learning and cultural adaptation, Sedaris invites the reader to relate to his experiences and reflect on their own encounters with cultural misunderstanding. Moreover, the lighthearted tone of the essay serves to humanize the characters and create a sense of camaraderie among the students, despite their diverse backgrounds.


While humor and cultural misunderstanding are central to the appeal of "Jesus Shaves," some critics might argue that Sedaris' portrayal of his classmates and their linguistic struggles borders on mockery or stereotyping. However, a closer examination of the text reveals that Sedaris treats his subjects with empathy and respect, often turning the joke on himself and his own shortcomings as a language learner.


In conclusion, "Jesus Shaves" by David Sedaris effectively employs humor and cultural misunderstanding to engage the reader and provide insights into the challenges and rewards of language learning and cultural adaptation. By sharing his own experiences and those of his diverse classmates, Sedaris invites the reader to reflect on their own encounters with cultural misunderstanding and appreciate the complexities of navigating a new language and culture. Future research could explore the potential benefits of humor in language learning and cross-cultural communication, as well as the role of personal narrative in fostering empathy and understanding among diverse communities.

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Sedaris, D. (1997). Jesus Shaves. In Naked. Little, Brown and Company.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Jesus Shaves By David Sedaris. (2024, March 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
“Jesus Shaves By David Sedaris.” GradesFixer, 25 Mar. 2024,
Jesus Shaves By David Sedaris. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
Jesus Shaves By David Sedaris [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 25 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from:
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