The readings this week all fell under the category of education and society. The first essay, Frederick Douglass’s “Learning to Read and Write”, illustrated his efforts to become literate while being a slave. The following essay, Richard Rodriguez’s “The Lonely, Good Company of Books”, told of his unlikely passion for reading and how he overcame the loneliness he associated with it. Susan Jacoby’s, “When Bright Girls Decide That Math is ‘a Waste of Time’”, addresses the phenomenon of young girls giving up on their math studies. Finally, Clayborne Carson’s, “Two Cheers for Brown V. Board of Education” weighs the benefits and drawbacks of integration resulting from Brown V. Board of Education. This essay is going to discuss the intended audience of these writings, along with dissecting the tones and techniques of the authors.
In “Learning to Read and write”, Frederick Douglas could be addressing other abolitionists, newly freed slaves, children in a similar position to his own, or the general public as a whole. I think that this reads best as an essay intended to inspire and to illustrate the importance of literacy to all. He writes in a matter-of-fact tone, simply telling the story of the lengths he went to become literate. As Frederick Douglass was a slave, he risked his very life for the ability to read and write. What he gained, however, was far better than the life he lead before his efforts paid off. It was far from easy; he even fought himself in his efforts sometimes, stating, “I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity.” Fortunately, he used his knowledge as a lifeboat of sorts, and he went on to become a powerful orator, journalist, and most importantly, a free man.
“The Lonely, Good Company of Books”, by Richard Rodriguez is another essay that I feel is best received by the general public as a whole. Parents of school-aged children could read this and become proactive about their child’s education as it relates to reading. Children who...
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