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Our Secret Essay

1612 words - 6 pages

Every individual has a biological influence on their development; two individuals combine their genetic information to create a new organism, carrying biological predispositions that will shape their expressed behaviors and characteristics. However, Susan Griffin, author of the essay “Our Secret,” argues that while genetic influences are significant, they are not the sole contributors to an individual’s development. Throughout her essay, Griffin reveals to her readers that the presence of external, uncontrollable factors from an individual’s environment can be equally influential as they diverge the individual off of the predetermined path of life created by biological factors.
Griffin begins her exploration of these external factors through her interconnected “matrix” that connects all individuals to each other and world around them. Griffin states that each individual “is a part of a large matrix of relationship and society…all the lives that surround [them] are in [them]” (Griffin 371). Griffin indicates that there are societal circumstances that a person does not have a choice in at birth, such as military or political presence, cultural and ethnic background, and socio-economic status; these external factors of the “matrix” are molded into the lives of each individual, shaping them to match their surroundings (Griffin 371). At the same time, the influence of relationships on an individual is also a crucial component to the “matrix.” An individual does not get to choose their biological parents or the family that they are born into. The actions exhibited by a person’s family and the treatment they receive from those individuals provides an influential model for behavior; all the lives that “surround [them] are in [them]” as Griffin reveals that an individual’s family does not just shape them through genetic material but through their actions as well. (Griffin 371).
Griffin displays the idea of her matrix through the content of her essay, where she incorporates the storylines of individuals who were all interconnected through the “matrix” of societal factors from World War II and the similarities in their families and upbringings. However, Griffin makes the daring decision to juxtaposition stories and experiences of her own life throughout the main storylines of her essay. Griffin is raw and unfiltered while describing moments throughout her life, providing the audience with personal information so private that many individuals would not even consider telling their closest friends or family members. This vulnerability allows Griffin to empathize with the individuals presented throughout her essay, making her readers trust the vivid speculation and inferences she makes about their lives because she is drawing on information from her own first-hand experiences. Through this juxtaposition, Griffin also reveals that she is more similar to them than is initially seen by the reader; just like the individuals presented in her essay, she was unable...

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