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The human cost of an illiterate society: Jonathan Kozol

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The human cost of an illiterate society: Jonathan Kozol

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  • April 29, 2004
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As I type this essay I am using one form of communication available to those of us who are literate. Sadly not all of us have the ability to do what most if not all of us who are lucky to be literate, take for granted. One such article, "The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society?" elaborates on the issue of illiteracy, which is utterly apparent in America. This essay is written using exemplification to show that knowledge is indeed power and those who are illiterate are almost powerless in today's society.

To even begin to prove your thesis you need to fully explain and clarify what it is you are trying to say and or prove. Basically you are using this technique to avoid vagueness in your essay. When Kozol states, "Tragedy looms larger than farce in the United States today," ambiguity is apparent but he clears it up with the next few sentences by providing reasons for this declaration "Illiterate citizens seldom vote. More frequently, they vote for a face, a smile, or a style, not for a mind or character or body of beliefs" (Kozol 230). Another example is, "Illiterates do not buy 'no name' products in the supermarkets. They must depend on photographs or the familiar logos that are printed on the packages of brand-name groceries" (Kozol 232). The latter sentence of each quote clarifies and explains the former sentence in each example. While clarifying and explaining are good ideas when writing an essay you must keep your readers from falling asleep.

A way to keep a hold on reader's attention is to add interest that can be done by using attractive examples that can at the same time make clear certain points. Kozol is exceptional at this method as seen here: "They cannot read the waivers that they sign preceding surgical procedures. Several women I have known in Boston have entered a slum hospital with the intention of obtaining a tubal ligation and have emerged a few days later after having been subjected to a hysterectomy"( Kozol 231). A different example of...