Exigence is the first thing that comes to mind when attempting to understand a piece of literature.
There is a need to know why the author was prompted to write the said piece. There is a curiosity that has to be satisfied, determined to know the motivation to write. This is especially the case when the reader encounters a work of beauty such as the writing of S.
R. Sanders. In order to appreciate it eve more, a sophisticated reader will try to understand the audience and the constraints. In Sander’s the Grub there is an element of fun in doing these things because his writing does not only inform it entertains. The exigence that compelled Sanders to write comes from an article that he was reading while sitting in a booth in Ladyman’s Cafe, located in Bloomington, Indiana.
The article that he was reading contained information regarding an obese nation and what caught Sander’s attention was the fact that Indiana ranked number one along with Wisconsin in the obesity department. He discovered this brutal fact when he was about to order food that he believed was the reason why the state is the fattest in the whole of the United States of America. His motivation for writing cannot only be understood by his desire to eat healthy and the guilt associated with ordering fat-laden food. The exigence can be seen in the fact that inspite of the newly discovered knowledge about something that can terribly harm his health the author continued to order. At first he was tentative and pulled punches refusing to give in to the temptation of ordering the most offensive food on the menu – the biscuits with sausage gravy, the triple stack of hotcakes slathered in butter, the twin pork chop with hash browns, the coconut cream pie and glazed doughnuts (Sanders, p.61). He ordered instead cheese omelet and toast. The exigence can be seen in the explanation as to why he refused to leave after the discovery that the diner contains nothing except food that will add to his waistline.
The exigence is in the feel-good feeling that he had every time he is in a place like the Ladyman’s Cafe. He wanted to be there even if the world tells him he should go somewhere else where food is better. He wanted to be there and his tormented feeling of wanting to stay and the need to eat healthy forced him to explain why he has to stay. No one forced him to eat unhealthy food, in fact, a few meters away are restaurants that offer much better fare. But he wanted to stay because the place and the food reminds him of the good old days. His audience is himself. He has to convince himself why it is good to order high-calorie food. He explained to himself why he had to be there.
He said that he was having a bad day and he needed to do something to cheer him up and there is no other activity that can produce that level of joy than to reminisce his childhood days. He had to go back to the happiest moments of his life and that was when his father would bring him on fishing trips. The stopover in diners as tacky as the Ladyman’s Cafe are fond memories and reminiscing made him feel good. He explained to himself that the same thing can be said about the customers.
There were different types of people in there, all coming from different social backgrounds. There were a few were religious men, others were blue-collar workers and a solitary figure was a lady who probably came from the city. Yet she was there in a tacky diner that is poorly decorated and smell of tobacco smoke. Sander made a point by focusing on her, for she will endure everything just so she can get a piece of her happy childhood memories back. That is why they were all there. It is not just about the food. The constraints can be seen in the way Sanders tried to justify his eating habits. The constraints can be seen in his attempt to explain why they are helpless even if they know that high-calorie food can make them fat and still they continue to eat.
Sanders went on to explain that the reason why they are fat is because they wanted to feel happy but the type of food they are eating is not for drivers and office workers who may have a tough job but job nonetheless that are not as physically demanding as that of a farmer. They are eating farm food. It makes them happy because of the memories it brings but it makes them fat as well.
The exigence, the one that prompted him to write this article is the result of two factors. First, it is the knowledge that he is eating fat-laden food that is making the author and the people of Indiana fat. Second, the reason why he kept on eating this food. It is all about happiness and the reminiscing of the good old days.
He has to explain it to himself first. The author was the audience. He has to convince himself why he needed to be there. Nevertheless, there were constraints.
He cannot deny the fact that being obese is a bad thing. He has to explain to himself why people are becoming fat.
Sanders, Scott Russel.
“Grub.” Motives for Writing. Ed. Keith Miller. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 1999. 60-64.