How the Other Half Lives: The Portrayal of Jacob Riis'

Topics: Rhetoric, How the Other Half Lives, Contradiction Pages: 3 (1064 words) Published: January 22, 2013
The portrayal of Jacob Riis’ views through his book ‘How the Other Half Lives,’ is conveyed by storytelling and is largely made of logos, however the key component is actually ethos, like a politician running a campaign, Jacob Riis’s uses logos and pathos to create a persona of authority on the topic of the poor in New York City. I am going to look in depth on how Riis uses different approaches to convey his views to his audience: why does do some of Riis’ key texts contradict each other? Is he conscious of if? Is it brilliant?

Infested with experiences and resentment like the rats in the tenements of contemporary New York City, Riis argues that the other half: the good living half; does not care about the struggles of the other half: who are poor and unfortunate. Riis says, “Long ago it was said that ‘one half of the world does not know how the other half lives.’ That was true then. It did not know because it did not care. The half that was on top cared little for the struggles and less for the fate of those who were underneath,” Riis argues that contemporary New York City society lacks fairness, equality of opportunity and sympathy for the other half. Riis brings to light: the Italians, Chinese, Jews, Blacks and Bohemians in descriptions of their habits, tradition, jobs and wages, rents paid and meals eaten, and explores the effects of crime, poverty, alcohol, and lack of education and opportunity on adults and children alike. Riis says “problem of children…makes one feel aghast”, (135) here he shows personal view and sympathy for children and the future. Riis has shined a light on all these minorities that make up “the other half,” maybe he belongs with the greats like Martin Luther King.

However, after analyzing some key texts, one cannot help but discover that Riis work is rather contradictory. For example Riis says “unlike the German, who begins learning English the day he lands as a matter of duty, or the Polish Jew, who takes it up as soon as he...
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