Lars Eighner’s short essay, “Dumpster Diving,” reveals the stereotypes about homelessness in America. In order to confirm these known stereotypes about American culture, Eighner includes autobiographical accounts of the economically inferior class, as well as revealing his elitist rules that governs the life of a homeless person. According to Eighner, homeless people fall into the following categories, ‘can scroungers’, ‘Dumpster divers’, and ‘scavengers.’ (Eighner, 1993). In addition, Eighner’s blatant demonstration of his superiority to the people he scavenges from reveals his true character of snobbery.
Although Eighner reveals that his chosen lifestyle was to live on another’s refuge, he kept in accordance with his acts of superiority and snobbishness by excluding himself from the term “Dumpster Diving.” Instead, he preferred to be called a “scavenger because of its frankness in the term.” (Eighner, 1993). Furthermore, Eighner, explains that there are rules to abide by when successfully “scavenging” through dumpsters, “using the senses…knowing the dumpsters of a given area…. and Why was this discarded?” It is the explanation of the three guidelines Eighner asserts to be superior to ‘can scroungers’ (Homeless people who rummage through the dumpsters for money). The author further elaborates his snobbishness by revealing that he has tried the heinous lifestyle of “can scroungers,” and deduced that only a few dollars could be obtained. Moreover, Eighner states, “one can extract the necessities of life from the dumpsters directly with far less effort than would be required to accumulate the equivalent of cans.” (Eighner, 1993). The author stereotypes the ‘can scroungers’ as abusers of drugs and alcohol (‘winos’) by claiming their necessity to fulfill the ‘daily doses’ to survive from withdrawal. He further proports that ‘can scroungers’ blatantly ‘tear up the dumpsters’ and disregard perfectly good items for other homeless people. Eighner sees ‘can scroungers’ at the bottom of his elitist list because of the obtrusiveness to the practice of common scavengers. Furthermore, Eigher declares, “a true scavenger hates to see good stuff go to waste, and what he cannot use he leaves in good condition in plain sight.”
Eighner as a homeless person uncovers his working within tradition of an archeologist. Similar to the archeologist, Eighner dubiously obtains information about those he scavenges from. Eighner feels that the refuge of the common consumer is more valuable then what people originally think. Eighner fervently states, “I avoid trying to draw conclusions about the people who dump in the Dumpsters I frequent,” when in fact he constantly juxtaposes his position to the affluent people. For instance, Eigher frequents affluent college dorms because of the extreme wastefulness the college student’s exhibit. He further passes judgment begrudgingly stating, “..it’s Daddy’s money.”(Eighner, 1993) Moreover, it is the use of these rhetorical strategies that the author implements to deliberately expose his superiority over college students because of his swiftness in retrieving private information. Eighner’s pretension even expands into academia where he finds; “college students often discard their papers. I am horrified to discover the kind of paper which now merits and A.” (Eighner, 1993)
Eighner illustrates through the lifestyle of the impudent college student’s consumerism versus consumptionism by declaring, “some students approach defrosting a freezer by chucking out the whole lot” (Eighner, 1993). It is the authors belief that consumers are aware of their consumption, as well as realize how wasteful they are with food in general For the students who do not fit into Eighner’s wasteful category, he presents a grouping of frugal consumers who, “carefully wrap up even the smallest leftovers and shove it into the back of the refrigerator for six months or so before discarding it” (Eighner, 1993).
Through the essay, “Dumpster Diving,” Eighner impresses his superiority by illustrating disinterested people and their lack to complete certain tasks the author is skillful at.
His disdain and impudence of students…
Eighner’s autobiographical essay not only shows the degradation homeless people indure, but his personal snobbery of those around him