Title: Critique of the essay titled "The Mall as Prison" by David Guterson

Essay by czyIndiangHigh School, 12th gradeA+, September 2008

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One typical shopper may enter a shopping mall with a predetermined idea of what he or she wishes to purchase. Another shopper may pass through the mall to browse the latest styles of clothing. Yet a third shopper may go to the mall simply to enjoy the atmosphere. Each shopper is on a journey of sorts to fulfill their desires, whether that means actually buying something or just looking around for potential future purchases. The mall tries to offer something of interest to every potential shopper. Guterson says that each shopper is like a “pilgrim” on some kind of “mecca.” However, what these shoppers may not realize is that by going to today’s malls, they are actually missing out on opportunities to build a sense of community. After his experience at the Mall of America, journalist and novelist David Guterson realized that “The mall exploits our acquisitive interests without honoring our communal requirements, our eternal desire for discourse and intimacy, needs that until the twentieth century were traditionally met in our marketplaces but that are not met at all in giant shopping malls,” (Guterson p.


In 1993, on assignment for Harper’s magazine, David Guterson spent a week in the recently opened Mall of America near Minneapolis, MN. During his stay there he pondered the question: How is the Mall of America part of America? The first thing that Guterson notices is the vast, expansive nature of the mall. After having observed some of the shoppers, Guterson concluded that “despite the mall’s expansiveness, it elicited claustrophobia, sensory deprivation, and an unnerving disorientation,” (Guterson p. 452). According to Guterson, these feelings lead to a sense of isolation, away from any kind of community that encourages socialization. Guterson believes that the desire to fulfill these “communal requirements” is intrinsic to human nature...