Sometimes to feel one’s pain, one must put themselves in their shoes and see the world through their eyes. Personal observations or experiences can help a reader better understand an argument and sometimes help relate the writing to the readers own life. Christina Boufis and Barbara Ehrenreich both use personal observations and factual data to write their reports. In my opinion I believe the use of personal observation/or experience really helped both of these author’s in writing their reports. The use of factual information is always important when writing to convince an audience but using one’s own personal experience in the mix helps a reader relate to the story, keeps the reader interested, enriches and deepens the experience for the reader. Therefore I will write throughout this essay on how both author’s personal observation helped strengthen their writings.
To start off Christina Boufis’s “Teaching Literature at the County Jail” talks about how she teaches literature in two different worlds. One being a female prison and the other being Berkerly students. Boufis uses her personal experiences to describe her teaching in literature to both female inmates in comparison with college level students. In “Teaching Literature at the County Jail,” Boufis talks about how she teaches the same book to her female prisons students and notices that her “Berkeley students don’t pick up on the drug connection” (p98) the same as her female students at the prison. Boufis’s gives readers the insight on how one’s personal experiences affect their connection with the rest of the world. She describes how her Berkeley students just want to know ultimately what the book means and get frustrated when they can’t get the meaning right away. Boufis also discusses the harsh environment in female prisons and how as sad as it can be most of the females are there for petty crimes. In order for Boufis to help set the background or setting for her writing she uses her personal observation throughout her writing. Without the use of her personal input it would be hard for the reader to understand on the connection the female prisoners have with the literature and how connecting to a book really helps understand literature but most importantly knowing that life itself does not always provide answers (p98). In my opinion it would be hard or even boring to read Boufis’s writing if she didn’t use her personal observation. She could have simply wrote and used facts on why the environment in these prisons are harsh or how 90 percent of incarcerated women have been sexually, emotionally, or physically abused (p99). The connections the prisoners used with the literature helped understand the unfortunate situation they were put in. She could of also made a statement on how her Berkerly students never committed crimes to put them in jail so they didn’t know anything about the connections with some of the literature she taught. Without the use of Boufis personal experience on how teaching students and prisoners it would be hard for the reader to really compare on how two worlds are heavily different. Also on how just because someone may be smart doesn’t mean they can possibly know how life is when not given many choices, leading to petty crimes and the unfortunate punishments people receive. As stated the use of Boufis personal observation really helped her argument in the harsh environments in this female prison and the harsh reality that most of the females there were never given enough opportunity’s to do something else in their life. Another writing by Barbara Ehrenreich “Nickel and Dimed: On Not getting By in America” really helped readers understand the hardships of today’s world throughout the eyes of the author. Ehrenreich went above and beyond in using personal experience to help the reader really understand the hardships of minimum wage jobs and the difficulty’s people face financially. She puts herself in her research to see if people who work in...
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