Malcolm Gladwell and Jon Krakauer
In your last paper you were asked to consider the possible motivation behind Chris McCandless's decision to abandon conventional knowledge. For this paper we are going to examine the excerpt from Krakauer's book in a new light-in relation to Malcolm Gladwell's ideas. In his chapter, "The Power of Context," Malcolm Gladwell argues for another way to understand one's relation to "meaning" and knowledge. While Gladwell looks at the epidemic of crime in New York City in the mid 1980s and the dramatic drop in crime rates a decade later and Jon Krakauer ruminates on a young man's "strange spiritual quest" (Krakauer 420) into the Alaskan wilderness, both authors contemplate the nature of "character". One seemingly incidental connection between both essays is the description of graffiti in the context of this contemplation of "character." For this paper, I would like you all to engage in some contemplation of your own on this particular connection. Why do you think each author chooses a visual representation such as graffiti to embody his ideas about character?(newhum.com) Both Susan Faludi and Beth Loffreda describe situations that could be considered tipping points: situations that challenged accepted stereotypes of male identity, that resulted in violence, that were taken up by the media, and that became the catalyst for greater public awareness of the issues of women’s equal opportunity, and gay rights, respectively.(newhum.com)
In “the Power of Context: Bernie Goetz and the Rise and Fall of New York City Crime,” Malcolm Gladwell proposes a new theory of behavior: that rather than fixed character traits or motivational stimuli, subtle shifts in the environment may determine behavior on individual and social levels. In “The Naked Citadel,” Susan Faludi provides an interesting situation in which to test Gladwell’s ideas. The culture of the Citadel promotes a certain set of values and notions about male identity that are encouraged...
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