UDWPA QUESTIONS FOR SEPTEMBER 22, 2011
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Question 1 In her essay “Shooting Dad”, Sarah Vowell describes her attempt at “becoming a better daughter.” Her effort to understand her father’s interest in guns is a potential model for resolving disagreements. Do you believe her approach—trying to understand the other side—could be used to address conflicts you’ve experienced or observed? Why or why not?
Write an essay that answers this question with specific reference to Vowell’s text. Your essay should include your own defensible thesis statement and reasons and examples from your studies, experience, or observations that develop and support it.
Question 2. In her essay “Shooting Dad”, Sarah Vowell describes her shift from focusing on her and her father’s differences to focusing on their similarities. This shift allows her to prioritize their relationship over their disagreements. In your experience, is this a common evolution in a child-parent relationship?
Write an essay that answers this question with specific reference to Vowell’s text. Your essay should include your own defensible thesis statement and reasons and examples from your studies, experience, or observations that develop and support it. Shooting Dad
By Sarah Vowell
Sarah Jane Vowell (1969- ) is an American author, journalist, essayist and social commentator. Often referred to as a "social observer," Vowell has written five nonfiction books on American history and culture, and was a contributing editor for the radio program This American Life on Public Radio International from 1996–2008. She was also the voice of Violet in the animated film The Incredibles.
If you were passing by the house where I grew up during my teenage years and it happened to be before Election Day, you wouldn't have needed to come inside to see that it was a house divided. You could have looked at the Democratic campaign poster in the upstairs window and the Republican one in the downstairs window and seen our home for the Civil War battleground it was. I'm not saying who was the Democrat or who was the Republican—my father or I—but I will tell you that I have never subscribed to Guns & Ammo, that I did not plaster the family vehicle with National Rifle Association stickers, and that hunter's orange was never my color.
About the only thing my father and I agree on is the Constitution, though I'm partial to the First Amendment, while he's always favored the Second.
I am a gunsmith's daughter. I like to call my parents' house, located on a quiet residential street in Bozeman, Montana, the United States of Firearms. Guns were everywhere: the so-called pretty ones like the circa 1850 walnut muzzleloader hanging on the wall, Dad's clients' fixer-uppers leaning into corners, an entire rack right next to the TV. I had to move revolvers out of my way to make room for a bowl of Rice Krispies on the kitchen table.
I was eleven when we moved into that Bozeman house. We had never lived in town before, and this was a college town at that. We came from Oklahoma—a dusty little Muskogee County nowhere called Braggs. My parents' property there included an orchard, a horse pasture, and a couple of acres of woods. I knew our lives had changed one morning not long after we moved to Montana when, during breakfast, my father heard a noise and jumped out of his chair. Grabbing a BB gun, he rushed out the front door. Standing in the yard, he started shooting at crows. My mother sprinted after him screaming, "Pat, you might ought to check, but I don't think they do that up here!" From the look on his face, she might as well have told him that his American citizenship had been revoked. He shook his head, mumbling, "Why, shooting crows is a national pastime, like baseball and apple pie." Personally, I preferred baseball and apple pie. I looked up at those crows flying away and thought, I'm going to like it here.
Dad and I started...
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