Study Guide

The Kids in A Modest Proposal

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The Kids

The kids aren't the luckiest characters in A Modest Proposal, but they sure play an important role. Although the narrator is mainly interested in serving up one-year-olds with steak sauce, he spends quite a bit of time talking about their older siblings. You know, the ones who clog the streets and beg for food.

Remember, these are the kids who are "generally tough and lean […] by continual exercise" and hard work, so they're not going to be viewed as a delicacy (17). The narrator mentions more than once that the babies who will be butchered and eaten have it better than the older children. That's not a particularly hopeful thought for the state of things in Ireland.

Mostly, the narrator uses language to dehumanize the kids completely. They're not living, breathing beings, but tomorrow's leftover lunch.

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