Evaluating an Argument (A Critical Analysis of Jonathan Kozol 's Human Cost of an Illiterate
Society an excerpt from Illiterate America )
Known for his advocacy on social and educational issues , Jonathan Kozol
gave illiteracy a face in this section of his book . He dotted the pieces
of illiteracy 's ugly visage challenging democratic America to pick up
the fragments and address the matter . He wanted to warn his readers
without alarming them so he made up a piece that can be summed up as an
emotional and a logical cry for action thus creating his rhetorical
situation .
Kozol presents his argument by looking into a wide range of effects , or
costs , of illiteracy both for society and the individual (Kozol 1 . He
stages the questions of literacy stressing that these must at length be
judged as a matter of morality (Kozol 1 . His argument 's building blocks
are present-day realities stressing on the dangers and the misery of
illiteracy to the society and more to the individual .
The author sets the mood by citing the special danger to basic equity in
the political structure (Kozol 2 . He cited the misery of living an
uninsured existence without guarantees everyday (Kozol 3 the danger of
being denied even the most basic of rights and opportunities (Kozol 4 ,
7 the misery of having an immobilized life (Kozol 6 the danger of
being harassed and abused (Kozol 7 the misery of being not able to
choose (Kozol 6 and the misery of social subjugation and humiliation (Kozol 9 . He gave each a vivid example or two of different people from
varying walks of life and in the process he creates symbols . These
true-to-life symbols or images functions like advertisements which
enables Kozol to achieve his persuasive work leaving his audience with
the feeling he wants them to have . The most haunting of his symbols
being the picture of the forty-eight-year old man who got trap in a
freeway when his car broke down and all he can give the police officer
is that he is on a one way street . There are other signs but because he
could not read those mean nothing . He recognizes the sign above his head
because he saw it before and he reads - ONE WAY STREET (Kozol 9 .
This litany of moving illustrations shows how the author made use of
formal logic presentation . He translates his reasoning process into
symbolic language that his readers can relate with and then he
manipulates the symbols in various ways to show how sound the reasoning
process is . And because it is a lot , it turns up to be too verbose and
can bore readers .
Moreover , to support his argument , Kozol employed a combination of
statistical , emotional and logical evidence appealing to the general
reader . He used large figures to convey significance and enormity such
the ones below .
The number of illiterate adults exceed by 16 million the entire vote
cast for the winner in the 1980 presidential contest (Kozol 2 .
It will...

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