Enclosed. Encyclopedic. Endured: The Mall of America – Summary

In his essay Enclosed. Encyclopedic. Endured: The Mall of America David Guterson describes his experience after in the Mall of America in Minneapolis. The mall, according to David, is a glorified shopping center which is larger than any other mall. It sits in a site of about 78 acres and was created to provide an ideal environment for the American shoppers. The author suggests that the planners created an environment with various activities and stores hence attracting shoppers from all over the world. The mall is huge allowing people to stroll and enjoy the several stores within the mall which cater for the needs of all the individuals.

David further describes the exterior of the mall as comparable to an airport terminal. According to him, the design of the outside of the mall is deliberate to entice visitors to walk into one of the largest malls in America. Specifically, the mall has 4.2 million square feet of space and many floors created lit to look like Las Vegas casino hence does not seem real (Guterson, 1993). In a sense, the mall acts as a tourist attraction and to the mall visitors, walking in the mall seems like a hallucination. According to David, the mall resembles a castle or Never-Never land; its size and design makes it look so unreal.

In his description, the author indicates that viewing the Mall of America from a distance looks appealing until one walks into the mall. The interior design of the mall looks like any other mall and exhibits nothing spectacular as seen from its exterior. The mall is undeniably larger than most malls in America but its features were typical of any other mall. From his view, the expansive nature of the mall causes a sense confusion among its visitors and it is common to find other people looking for an exit amidst irrelevant landmarks in the kiosks.

In this article, David creates an image of the mall in the mind of the reader by providing a detailed description of the aspects of the mall. The style used in writing this article creates an image of the mall for the reader. The use of descriptive words in particular gives one an idea of how the mall looks like. Hence, the reader is led to believe that David’s trip to the mall was an unforgettable experience that cannot be compared to any mall in America. For instance, David describes “the mall’s logo–a red, white, and blue star bisected by a red, white, and blue ribbon–decorated everything from the mall itself to coffee mugs and the flanks of buses” (50). The detailed description provided paints the image of the mall in the reader’s mind hence provides a virtual tour of the mall.

Additionally, the author presents the negative aspects of the mall particularly how the malls reduce interaction between people. According to David, the mall destroys the sense of community. It is true that several people visit the mall in a day but people hardly ever talk to each other. In David’s opinion, the society is materialistic and people are focused on spending and buying rather than interacting with each other. “At the Mall of America–an extreme example–we discover ourselves thoroughly lost among strangers in a marketplace intentionally designed to serve no community needs” (59). By presenting both the negative and positive aspects about the mall, the author proves that the glamour of the mall also has its disadvantages.

Finally, the author provides different perspectives about the mall as seen by other people. The author, therefore avoids author biasness and allows the opinions of other people to inform the readers. Through interviews with the shoppers, the mall management, the celebrities who frequent the mall, the security guards who manage the surveillance cameras in the mall and the shop attendants, David backs up his descriptions about the American Mall. For instance, he inquires about the recycling plant at the mall from the supervisors.  “Doering and I stood watching them as they picked at a stream of paper and plastic bottles; when I asked about their pay, he flinched and grimaced, then deflected me toward another supervisor, who said that wages were based on daily productivity” (54). In Conclusion, the author provides a detailed description of the aspects of the mall hence he opens up the reader’s imagination.  He also provides an analysis of the past, the present and the future of the American shoppers. With this analysis, the author reveals the passing glory of the mall and the changing patterns of consumption among the shoppers. Hence, the author illustrates that the society is changing and the adoption of new trends is likely to inform the future of the Mall of America. David’s description of the interior of the mall, the activities within the mall, the sales made by the businesses and the exterior of the mall gives the reader a mind tour and an analysis of the entire mall.

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