A Rhetorical Examination Of The Homeless And Their Children

1317 words - 5 pages

In “The Homeless and Their Children”, author Jonathon Kozol explains how poverty and homelessness can go hand in hand, but he also shows his readers that the government in New York City during the 1980’s did not really attempt to assist those in need. The author shows us how the homeless and illiterate struggled by sharing with us an interview with a young woman called Laura who resided in a massive welfare hotel. Kozol did not find it necessary to write this piece in a persuasive tone, or a compassionate tone, or even an angry tone to get his message across. He did not need to include a multitude of statistics to convince his readers that homelessness, illiteracy, and governmental apathy were issues. As stated in the introductory paragraph that precedes Kozol’s excerpt, “Instead of arguing indignantly for literacy programs to save the lives of the poor and illiterate, Kozol simply reports the case of a single illiterate woman trying to raise her four children” (Kozol 304). When the different aspects of this wring are studied, it can be found that Kozol successfully utilized subtlety and refinement, along with vivid imagery, to address this issue in order to inform and motivate his readers to take a stand against homelessness and illiteracy.
As this was mostly an emotional piece, there are very little references to logos. However, Kozol begins with a very important statistic at the beginning: “Nearly four hundred homeless families, including some twelve hundred children, were lodged in the hotel, by arrangement with the city’s Human resource Administration” (Kozol 304). This statistic is significant because it builds the author’s credibility by providing tangible facts from the author’s research, and it also exercises our logical abilities. By using this data, we can assume that the problem that Kozol writes about it massively wide-spread, as there are this many people affected in only this single area of the city.
Later on in the story, Kozol addresses to the audience the situation of Laura’s budget. By providing Laura’s report of her exact figures of her income and expenditures, he caters again to the reader’s logical reasoning skills by giving us a more precise and mathematical understanding of her plight. Also, Kozol writes about the process of churning: “’Those on welfare’, the Community Service Society of New York said in a report published in 1984, “may be suddenly removed from welfare rolls ‘for reasons unrelated to their actual need,’ or even to eligibility standards” (Kozol 306). By giving us a direct quote and a documented source, the readers can assume that this statement is true and we can make a better, more informed opinion on this topic.
Lastly, he uses a metaphor to describe the appearance of Laura’s children: “In the room are two boys with dark and hollowed eyes and an infant girl. A third boy is outside and joins us later. The children have the washed-out look of the children Walker Evans photographed for...

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