The Last Meal Analysis

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Artist Approach to The Last Meal In the article, The Last Meal, Michael Paterniti adds complexity and strength to his work by taking an artistic approach to deliver his information. He specifically uses two literary devices that guide the reader to a better understanding of the scenario; a continuous change in tense paired with intense descriptions that offer critical value to the overall piece. Each time Paterniti bolds the beginning of a new paragraph, the author is taking the reader either back in time to discuss François Mitterrand, or to Paterniti’s own present-day visit to France. This skillful style provides direction and flow for the audience to meticulously follow the article. His well-defined descriptions direct the reader into …show more content…
In the beginning of the article, the author discusses how hearing the story of the former French president’s last meal brought him to France. Mitterrand’s last meal was composed of multiple dishes with the ortolan being the centerpiece. Paterniti wanted to try this meal for himself. His use of tense change helps the audience stay on pace with the story. The story starts out with Paterniti discussing his time at the church and how he laid awake hungry in his hotel room, “Then I find the hotel again. I lie awake until dawn. Fighting down my hunger. That’s what I do the night before the last meal” (5). This is written in the present tense, but quickly the story flips to François’s time period, with Paterniti discussing his cancer, and his background, “He spent much of his waking hours remembering his life . . . He sat, robed and blanketed now, studying how great men of ancient civilizations had left the earth, their final gestures in the space between life and death” (5). Now, the tense has been flipped into the past to indicate to the reader the new direction of the article. Paterniti uses a tense change of present to past to indicate a change in the timeline. Another example of …show more content…
Early in the article, he discusses how François had cancer and envisioned it as a fruit metaphor so his mind and body could process the condition differently, “On his good days, the president imagined there was a lemon in his gut; on bad days, an overripe grapefruit, spilling its juices. He had reduced his affliction – cancer – to a problem of citrus” (5). The fruit metaphor used by Paterniti helps the reader actually comprehend how François was feeling. Although François’ cancer was painful, Paterniti’s descriptions clearly demonstrate to the reader the power of mind over body. With more bad days than good, the author prepares the audience for François’s final days and last meal. Paterniti provides a well-defined and detailed analysis and description of François’s last meal, “He took the ortolan in his fingers, then dove again beneath the hood . . . the guests in silence and self-pleasing, pornographic slurps of the president filling the room like a dirge” (19). Paterniti sets the scene with his use of language; the pornographic slurps paired with the silenced guests bring the audience to an understanding of what was happening in the moment. When the audience is focused on François finishing the ortolan, Paterniti deftly moves to his own experience eating the illegal treat. He does so with a lot of detail, “And what happens after

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