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Reasons For Writing


Reasons For Writing

Reasons For Writing

Jean Paul Sartre wrote in УWhy Write?Ф, УWhy Write? Each one has his

reasons. For one, art is flight; for another, a means of conquering. But

one can flee into a hermitage, into madness, into death. Why does it have

to be writing, why does one have to manage his escapes and conquests by

writing? Because, behind the various aims of authors, there is a deeper

and more immediate choice which is common to all of us. Writing is a way

of wanting freedom.Ф The author answers his own question, in that the

purpose of writing could be to gain freedom. An author can use writing

as a tool to express his ideas, as well as to send a message to the

reader. The message could be in the form of sending information, asking a

question that encourages the reader to pursue the topic by expanding on it

or by taking further actions. How can writing be used effectively to send

a message?

During the past semester, the three readings that had the affected me

the most were: УI Have A DreamФ, by Martin Luther King, Jr., УThe Ballot

or the BulletФ, by Malcolm X, and УAmong the CondemnedФ, by Charles

Dickens. There are two main reasons for the affect they had on me. The

first reason is the specific language that each author used in his work.

The second reason is how the authors presented the sense of struggle in the

content of their message.

When I began reading УI Have A DreamФ, the opening paragraph sparked

my interest for two reasons. I was very impressed with the language and

the rhetoric he used in his speech. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ФNow is

the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise

from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of

racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of

racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make

justice a reality for all of GodТs children.Ф His description of the

present status of Afro-Americans is characterized in the words: УdarkФ,

УdesolateФ, and Уquicksands of racial justiceФ. On the other hand, the

future, as he sees it, is summarized in the words: Уsunlit path of racial

justiceФ and Уsolid rock of brotherhoodФ. This gives me a clear message as

to his viewpoint on racial inequality. Even a hundred years before this

speech took place, Abraham Lincoln sent the same message. Abraham Lincoln,

in his Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862, said, УFellow

citizens, we cannot escape historyЕ No personal significance or

insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through

which we pass will light us down in honour or dishonour to the last

generation.Ф

The second reason, my interest was sparked, was by the level of

motivation that I felt in his words. The words that affected me the most

were stated by Martin Luther King Jr. as, УGo back to Mississippi, and go

back to Alabama. Go back to South Carolina. Go back to Georgia. Go back

to Louisiana. Go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities,

knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not

wallow in the valley of despair.Ф The motivational part of Martin Luther

King, Jr.Тs quote that influenced me was the idea of transporting his

message around the country through his speech.

In УThe Ballot or the BulletФ, by Malcolm X, the same purpose was

directed by each author, except in a totally different way. Malcolm X,

just like Martin Luther King, Jr., wanted to identify and specify the

racial problem that Afro-Americans face in American society. His

rhetorical style was not as rich and did not have as much sophistication in

his choice of words as that of Martin Luther King Jr.. Malcolm X said,

УItТs the year when all of the white politicians will be back in the so-

called Negro community jiving you and me for some votes.Ф The word

УjivingФ, which he used, showed that he addressed his speech to a specific

kind of audience. Throughout his speech, I felt as though anger was

prevalent. He said, УSo, IТm not standing here speaking to you as an

American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver-no, not I. IТm

speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through

the eyes of the victim. I donТt see any American dream; I see an American

nightmareЕФ From this quote, he used words like УvictimФ and УnightmareФ,

which showed the anger that he hoped would be shared by his listeners. In

both oral presentations, УI Have A DreamФ and УThe Ballot or the BulletФ,

the primary message of seeking immediate change was characterized.

However, the method, of reaching racial equality that each author offered,

was very different. Martin Luther King, Jr.Тs method was through peaceful

means and Malcolm XТs method was to change society through violence, if

necessary.

The essay, УAmong the CondemnedФ, by Charles Dickens, captured my

attention for two reasons. The primary reason was the prison situation

that was described in the passage. The second reason was the dramatic

narrative style that the author used. By showing the situation in which

the prisoner had less and less time to live, and by knowing the exact time

of his execution, the author kept my interest throughout the story. While

I was reading the essay, I put myself in the situation of the prisoner. By

doing this, I realized the feelings and emotions that a prisoner has to

deal with in the waning hours of his life. This is illustrated when

Charles Dickens said, УIt cannot be two yet. Hark! Two quarters have

struck; the third-the fourth. It is! Six hours left.Ф The use of the

narrative style in УAmong the CondemnedФ, also helped me to get a clearer

picture of the environment which surrounded the prisoner. Dickens said,

УAn iron candlestick was fixed into the wall at the side; and a small high

window in the back admitted as much air and light as could struggle in

between a double row of heavy, crossed iron bars.Ф All the detailed

descriptions that were used by the author had an emotional and spiritual

effect on me.

Struggle is the common content in all three pieces of literature. In

the first two works, we can see the struggle of Afro-Americans for their

equality in society. The essay, УAmong the CondemnedФ, also showed the

struggle that a prisoner goes through. Another common idea, that was

exhibited in these three works, was the desire for freedom. In the first

two speeches, both speakers talked about social freedom and in the essay,

the prisoner was seeking freedom from the prison cell.

The differences between the three works were in their purpose and in

their writing style. The purpose of the two freedom speeches was to

motivate and encourage the listeners to respond to the speech. On the

other hand, the essay created a situation which encouraged the reader feel

sympathetic towards the prisoner. Due to the motivational purpose of the

speeches, the speakers used rhetoric to emphasize their messages. Since

the essayТs purpose and the situation were different from the speeches,

Dickens chose to use the narrative style for his writing.

The question УWhy write?Ф can have many answers. Some of the reasons

for writing are: to motivate, to inform, to educate, to influence, or to

express oneТs ideas. In these three readings, I found motivation,

information, education, and the expression of ideas to be the reasons that

these authors used. According to the Bible, Revelation, Chap. 21, verse 4,

the answer to the question, УWhy write?Ф, is, УAnd God shall wipe away all

tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow,

nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are

passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all

things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and

faithful.Ф No matter what the reasons are for writing, it will remain an

effective means of expression and communication. Can you imagine how

different the world would be if no one had ever found a purpose for

writing?



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