Fun, Oh Boy. Fun. You Could Die from It



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Fun, Oh Boy. Fun. You Could Die from It

  • By Suzanne Britt Jordan

Pre-reading

  • What expectations do you bring to an article entitled “Fun, Oh Boy. Fun. You Could Die from it”? Can ‘fun” actually harm or kill you? In what ways? Do you think that Americans are too much of a “fun” culture? Why or why not?
  • Do you think we Taiwanese have a “fun” culture? Why or why not?

Pre-reading

  • Consider the contrasts between, and shades of difference within, “puritan” (par. 3). “selfless” (par. 4), and “Licentiousness” (par. 9). Or between “epitome” (par. 11), “reverently” (par. 13), and “blaspheme” (par. 13). What do these words imply about the essay, the author? What do you guess the essay is likely to say?

In reading

  • golly gee (par. 8) definition
  • Polaroid snapshot (par. 10) definition
  • Jove (par. 5) definition
  • swill (par. 10) definition
  • rough-and-ready (par. 10) definition
  • to put a damper on sth. (par. 12)
  • What other rhetorical strategies are used in this essay? (hint: pars. 8 & 14; pars. 6 & 10)

Vocabulary Building

  • 1. A. something precious
  • B. by all-powers
  • C. she fell terrible
  • D. Gosh
  • 2. A. render unimportant or insighificant
  • B. failing
  • C. walking aimlessly or idly
  • D. drinking greedily or excessively
  • Gaiety, merriment

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 1. In pars. 1-5, she implies that fun is not easily come by; it is not something common; it is not something that necessarily comes daily; and it is not simply pure pleasure.
  • 2. We would make it into fun, despite the fact that it may not have been so. For example, she cites things that got the reputation of being fun (6): family outings, sex, education, work, Walt Disney, church, staying fit.

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 3. By placing “happy faces” on them.
  • 4. By stepping up “the level of danger or licentiousness or alcohol or drug consumption.
  • 5. Taking Polaroid picture, swilling beer, buying insurance, mopping the floor, bowing, taking aspirin (10)

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 6. We usually anticipate the fun so much on big occasions that we end up missing it when it finally comes. “It may even come on a Tuesday” means that fun may come when we least expect it, when there is no big occasion.

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 7. About fun, Jordan says “not much is” (12). She feels we ought to be more reverent about fun, to feel it more as a mystery than as something to which we are automatically entitled. It may even come when we are working or performing some duty, implying that those things can be the “real fun” in life (13)

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 8. They were about twelve years old. They had just bought candy—Bit-O-Honey, malted milk balls, chocolate stars, Chunkies, M & M’s—and were walking home together. Pam’s gestures were especially funny because they were truly enjoying each other’s friendship—that is, “having fun.”

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 9. She is regretful about “growing up” and feeling, therefore, that she has lost “the kind of day and friendship and occasion” that she had with Pam. It is difficult to say how sad or regretful she really is; she seems more bittersweet than sad, although some readers might logically question why growing up precludes having fun

Understanding the Writer’s Techniques

  • 1. Fun comes unexpectedly, it is not there for the asking. Par. 13 provides the key elements of the thesis.
  • 2. The first two paragraphs are, in a way, definitions of “fun.” However, these two sentences, either singly or together, do not sufficiently define the abstract concept which is the subject of the essay: The first (“fun is hard to have”) simply states the quality of the concepts; the second (“Fun is a rare jewel.”) makes a metaphorical comparison.

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 3. In the three paragraphs, Jordan mentions all sorts of things that are “supposed” to be fun, but does so in a way to suggest that she certainly does not think of them as automatically being fun. For example, in par. 7 she explains how “happy face” stickers are supposed to make “fun” out of something like a flunked test. Par. 8 relates a vignette in which a kid does not respond the right way to something which his or her parents are sure would be “fun.” And in par. 9 she becomes more serious in her irony by indicating that drug or alcohol abuse is sometimes a negative way of making “fun” out of times when life is not so thrilling

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 4. The fact that we have accepted some things as fun mainly because, through advertising or cultural assimilation, we have come to think of them as having to be fun although we may not actually derive any pleasure from them.
  • 5. Jordan attempts to include in her definition and analysis the broad spectrum of objects, products, and activities which we have come to assume are fun, but may, in fact, not be so.

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 6. The tone is talky and slightly cynical although essentially it remains a lighthearted irony through the use of conversational words and phrases. Among these are: snakes alive! (3); by Jove (5); flunking (7); this ain’t fun, ma (8); Golly gee (8); those rough-and-ready guys (10)

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 7. As in her use of “everyday” and “everything,” Jordan is attempting to show us just how many things from so many different types of activities we take for granted as having to be fun. In a way, she is trying to point out to us that we are often much too unselective in our evaluations of “fun.” Pars. 6 and 10 are especially effective for their use of multiple examples.

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 8. Par. 12 serves as a transitional paragraph, whereas par. 13 is the first one to be mostly affirmative (“It is a mystery.”) The switch turns the tone of the essay from ironic or cynical to more serious and reminiscent of fun times in the past
  • 9. Disney World (8); Polaroids (10); Bit-O-Honey, Chunky, M & M’s (14). By using specific brand names, she brings specificity and familiarity to her illustrations.

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 10. Narration is used to illustrate aspects of the concept of “fun.” Par. 8 is the imagined story of a kid with his or her parents in Disney World. Par. 14 narrates a fun time Jordan had with her childhood friend, Pam. The narration of her childhood memory adds a nice, personal touch to the essay.

Understanding the Writer’s ideas

  • 11. Perhaps she wants her readers to begin and end this essay with the idea that “fun” is really quite simple—not so complicated and busy as all the “things” she describes in the body of the essay.


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