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Erstwhile: Family and Author

Oct 08, 1999 672 Words
Confessions of an Erstwhile Child is an essay which analyses the concept of the nuclear family. At first the author explains the ideas of Thomas More's Utopia, but afterwards narrows his content by going into explaining his thoughts on children raised in dysfunctional families. He very cleverly shows the reader part family model's with current ones, allowing his audience to make the decision for themselves. His tone is a logical philosophical. The reader is told of his depressing childhood growing up in a dysfunctional family, and how it had a profound effect upon his life. The author uses his own personal experience and knowledge to express his opinions on his topic, but really doesn't use much inference to other cases or factual evidence to back up his argument. All and all, the author wrote an essay which would prove to be thought provoking and well organized.

In this first paragraph, the author battles with a commonly held belief that children are the "property" of their parents for a certain amount of time in their lives. The author constructs upon the topic slowly by disclosing his problem with the idea of children as property, only to bring his own life experiences into count by explaining his adolescence with a dysfunctional family. By bringing in his personal experiences, the author is in some sense considered an authority figure on the topic of a child's life with a dysfunctional family. He compares the concept of parental custody with apprenticeship, and he puts it all together by creating a practical solution to the problem. His true thesis sentence is seen in the last paragraph where he says, "We have invested far too heavily in the unproved "equity" called the nuclear family; that stock is about to crash and we ought to being finding escape options" (p 196). By gradually giving the reader background info on the problems of the modern dysfunctional family, and then stating the thesis at the end, he very clearly gets his argument across.

The author clearly shows how his childhood effected his adulthood, making in a living example of what he is writing about allowing the audience to more easily trust what he is writing about. Instead of using factually evidence from other dysfunctional family incidences, the author decides to make it more personal, by using his own life and comparing family ideas of the past to the present. In the first three paragraphs the author is very general and makes assumptions. He claims that custody by natural parents should be a privilege rather than a right. He grew up as a victim of "vigorous and angry septuagenarians" (p 193), and "figured mainly as a practice target for sarcasm and invective, and occasionally as the ultimate culprit responsible for their unhappiness" (p 193). He doesn't go into detail of his on specific childhood problems, but we get the idea. In the following paragraph he shows the reader how he survived his sad life as a child. He states three clear ways in which he persevered, and how it might effect him in a negative way later on. He concludes how it had made him a cold-hearted man, and he makes it clear to us that it had a direct effect to him being a child to a dysfunctional family. He convinces the read of this quite well.

His tone is overzealous at times, and in some sense makes the reader feel bad for him, and his life as a child. The essay is clearly stating an opinion, and we don't get that till the very end, when he basically says that our current family nucleus model doesn't work. The last sentence ends with an exclamation point, showing how strongly he feels about the ideas he presented the reader with. At first the author wrote more as a philosopher, but towards then end seemed like a fanatic. However, when he explains his most traumatic lifestyle as a child, we gain sympathy for the reader.

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