50 Essays Discussion Questions

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1. “Why Don’t We Complain” Question 2
Employing simple anecdotes, William F. Buckley argues in his essay “Why Don’t We Complain”, that as people continue to ignore rudimentary issues, their passivity is transferring into political indifference. Buckley begins with a simple story of how “train temperatures in the dead of the winter… climb up to 85 degrees without complaint” and how “For generations, Americans who were too hot, or too cold, got up and did something about it”. Although there were many passengers on the train, all visibly uncomfortable, no one said a word to the conductor about the issue. Buckley implies that the recent disinclination of Americans to speak up about a problem with a simple solution is only the beginning of a mute American population, muteness already visible in politics. Buckley blatantly states “the observable reluctance of the majority of Americans to assert themselves in minor matters is related to our increased sense of helplessness in an age of… centralized political and economic power”. Less and less people step up to fix minor matters, such as the heat on train. Buckley equates this hesitance in simple issues to be the mirror of the lack of voice in politics from the general population. As minor incidents are simply brushed aside, political opinions will continue to progressively be suppressed.
2. “Serving in Florida” Question 2
In the essay “Serving in Florida”, Barbara Ehrenreich describes individuals she works with through direct comparisons of how they adapt to survive in poverty. Ehrenreich speaks with her co-worker Gail, who is “thinking of escaping from her roommate by moving into the Days Inn” which is 40 to 60 dollars a day, forcing Ehrenreich to reflect on her own living situation, only “made possible by the $1,300 [she] had allotted [herself]… when [she] began [her] low-wage life”. Obviously the living conditions for Gail and Ehrenreich are deplorable, but through the direct comparison of their situations,

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