The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society

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Anh Nguyen
Professor Nayar
ENGL 1301
2/7/13
The Effect of Illiteracy
Jonathan Kozol is an American author, professor and activist. He is 76 years old. He spent his childhood in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1958, Kozol earned his Bachelor of Art (B.A.) degree in Harvard University and was offered a Rhodes scholarship. However, he declined it and moved to Paris, France in 4 years. He began to write “The Fume of Poppies” (1958). After that, Kozol moved back to the United State to participate in “the civil rights movement and issues of social justice” enthusiastically. “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society” is a part of “Illiterate America” which was released in 1985. It is very persuasive and effective essay that showed the fact of people without literacy have lower quality of life and how they deny their rights and their interests in the society. They don’t have enough knowledge in writing and restrict their abilities in written world. Illiterates will be automatically eliminated from modern world. Kozol is skillful and talented when using many credible sources and quotations to persuade the readers and attracted them into his article. At the beginning of the article, Kozol mentioned how American government faces with the effects and dangers of an illiterate society. The number of illiterate adults was increasing and created many issues for their countries. He equated these problems as “a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both” because people without literacy cannot make their own knowledgeable decisions about important documents or controversial news. Furthermore, they can be given the high signs to their benefits because of bellicose voter education or “more frequently, they vote for a face, a smile, or a style, not for a mind or character or body of beliefs” (253) since they are outdated. These were the reason why “illiterate citizens seldom vote”: more than 60 million people who are significantly refused to participate in democracy...
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