“Why Don’t We Complain?” Essay

  • Topics: Essay
  • Pages: 5
  • Words: 1367
  • Date added: May 4, 2020

William F. Buckley Jr., the famous editor, writer, and talk show host, focuses his attention on the way people used voicing their opinion in his “Why Don’t We Complain?” work. He came to the understanding that choosing a passive approach and being unresponsive to the way some issues affect you is a wrong strategy. He pays attention to the need for people to stand up for themselves and complain, not only to expect other people to say their piece.

He used plenty of exceptional literary elements, like anecdotes, asyndeton, and imagery to explain to people that they have all the rights to complain. This message was sent to the entire American people who according to Buckley should never feel held back. “Why don’t we complain” by William Buckley is an exceptional example of the power of conscious complaining. For Buckley, the refusal to complain about important matters only ends in the feeling of complete toxic helplessness. Further, the mentioned helplessness can be transformed into a strong dependency, for instance, on political and economic power.

What is “Why Don’t We Complain?”

“Why don’t we complain?” by William F. Buckley is a brilliant work of one of the most famous modern old-school intellectuals. The author describes the significance of people’s ability to complain. Also, he defines and explains one of the biggest problems of the American nation that lies in the inability and unwillingness of people to master the power to object to matters that affect their lives greatly. The writer uses numerous anecdotes, asyndeton, and metaphors to show the American people how significant the ability of conscious complaining is. First of all, the writer uses a few private anecdotes telling how he failed to express his opinion. Also, he explains why he deeply believes that Americans remain hesitant to express their opinions. Therefore, the question “why don’t we complain?” remains.

He talks about a particular incident when he was on a train. He wanted to tell someone in charge about how hot it was inside a train car. His seatmate made it obvious how resentful he was to the very idea of any complaints announced. According to the author, it made him “incapable of making a discreet fuss” (pg. 65) eventually. He was intimidated by his seatmate, and never complained about the heat on the train. For the author, the entire ride was extremely uncomfortable. He mentioned another incident in his book. Once he was staying with his friends and wife to watch a film. The film was extremely out of focus, but his wife was ensuring him that it would become better soon. After the film ended, he told his wife that everyone suffered through it since it never got any focus at all. No one expressed any complaints about the film, thus everyone suffered silently. Besides, every person in attendance wanted someone else to start complaining first. Therefore, he summarized that people prefer making everyone around them comfortable rather than themselves. He defined that it is better to be judged than to tolerate discomfort.

Another element the writer uses in his work is imagery. It allows for revealing more details and gathering the attention of readers. For instance, he tells the story about his talk with a flight attendant once on the plane. When a document he needed to review was in his suitcase jammed by his lunch train, he called for a flight attendant. The stewardess told him to wait and went “empty-handed” (pg. 68) to a kitchen area. He focuses on a flight attendant to be empty-handed since she could easily take his lunch tray and save him from additional discomfort. Since she was already going to a kitchen area, it was easy to take a tray there since it is where it should be taken.

The writer also provided a story from his vacation in Pico Peak, Vermont. Once he was in line at a ski repair, and he needed simply to take a screwdriver from the workshop. The workshop workers were both engaged in different activities. The first one was servicing a young lady, and the second one “sat in a chair puffing a pipe” (pg. 67). The writer reveals in detail what he was seeing. It was done to explain that it was really easy to ask a workshop worker to give him a screwdriver since he was doing nothing. In this particular case, he has spoken, still, it was quite untimely. Bringing final thoughts, the author explains that American culture turned out to be passive and amenable. He also explains that he wants it to change since people should be able to voice their complaints at any time.

The author also uses imagery to supply his essay with more detail of what is occurring and how he feels in the situations he is in. For example, he describes his story of being on a plane and his encounter with the flight attendant. While writing on the plane, he needed to get more paper, but it was in his briefcase, which was blocked by his lunch tray, so he called the flight attendant, but she told him “just a moment” even though she was already heading to the kitchen area. Stated in the text, “I arrested the stewardess as she passed by empty-handed down the aisle on the way to the kitchen” (pg. 68). By saying that she was empty-handed, he puts an emphasis on how she could have easily taken his lunch tray because she wasn’t holding anything, and she was already headed to the kitchen area where his tray could have been easily placed. The author also goes to recount his time in line at a ski-repair store in Pico Peak, Vermont. He states, “All I needed to get on with my skiing was… a small screwdriver… behind the counter in the workshop were two men. One was industriously engaged in servicing the complicated requirements of a young lady… the other… sat in a chair puffing a pipe” (pg. 67). The author also goes into detail about what he saw to show how it could have been easy to speak up and ask the other man for help because he wasn’t doing anything. Even though Buckley had spoken out in this situation, it was at the most inconvenient time. Throughout his essay, he reasoned that the American culture has become passive and compliant, but he wants that to change, he wants people to voice their words and be heard.

Additionally, the author uses asyndeton to show that different people can have the same views. During the movie he was seeing, when no one complained, he stated, “and the reason no one did is because we were all increasingly anxious in America to be unobtrusive, we are reluctant to make our voices heard, hesitant about claiming our rights…” (pg. 66). The use of asyndeton shows how the author proposes how Americans feel about confronting authority. Americans have the tendency to just accept what comes and to not act on it. By addressing everybody, he talks about how Americans as a collective group show a lack of interest or caring in anything that makes them feel discomfort or inconvenience. Also, stated, “he shuffled down the aisle, picking up tickets, punching communication cards” (pg. 64). By giving a list of what the train conductor is doing as he is walking down, it gives attention to the fact that the conductor isn’t over occupied with more important tasks to do. Buckley had the opportunity to complain, but he chose not to take it.

Overall Buckley’s was able to use anecdotes, imagery, and asyndeton to point out that Americans don’t take initiative and express how they really feel, but instead just let things be. He accentuates the idea that people should make their voice heard and essentially complain if they want a change.

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