“The National Institute for Literacy estimated that 22 percent of adult Americans, about 42 million, could sign their name to a document but not locate an intersection on a street map or find two pieces of information in a newspaper article (Kelly 186). For many Americans, the capability to read and the benefits are often taken for granted. Jonathan Kozol’s “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society” describes why literacy is needed to be an active and successful individual within society. He provides various examples of the struggles an illiterate individual faces daily to create empathy with the audience. Through definition, Kozol argues that literacy is not only an essential tool in an individual’s life but essential for a stable, democratic society, and therefore persuasively defining literacy as a necessity to life.
The ability to read is often times regarded as second nature and something that is done subconsciously. This is unless you are one of the millions who are living in the shadows of illiteracy. Kozol discusses the basic struggles that a single illiterate person is forced to endure. The audience discovers that the majority of problems that an illiterate person faces are basic things that are done every day: writing a letter, reading a book, etc. Kozol makes these struggles relatable to the audience by taking a small task and magnifying it as it would be seen though the eyes of someone who couldn’t read. This strengthens how he defines illiteracy because the
audience now has a feeling of connection with the illiterate society. He also provides a very straightforward and effective example of what daily life is like for someone who can’t read:
Since I first immersed myself within this work I have often had the following dream: I find that I am in a railroad station or a large department store within a city that is utterly unknown to me and where I cannot understand the printed words. None of the signs or symbols is... [continues]
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(2012, 04). Americans and Literacy. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 04, 2012, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Americans-And-Literacy-972224.html
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