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Goal: Within a text, an argument exists that may contain claims, sub-claims, evidence, and appeals. To understand the text’s argument and rhetorical situation, a reader/writer should recognize and summarize the claim(s) as well as analyze the evidence provided. Moreover, this analysis should include an evaluation of the rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos), which should provide merit to the text’s overall persuasive context and nature. Further analysis may include the discussion of shared values and warrants to strengthen the evaluation. Writing Prompts and Rhetorical Situations:

Option 1: Choose a documentary film that focuses on an issue and argues a position. Study the film you have chosen and write a rhetorical analysis argument essay. You can find documentary films from various places: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/ or Films on Demand (via the OCCC Library). For Films on Demand, you will have to enter your OCCC Login and Password to access the films, unless you are on campus.

Option 2: From the textbook, choose an essay, poem, comic, image, or other thematic genre that focuses on an issue and argues a position. Study the text you have chosen and write a rhetorical analysis argument essay. While any reading selection in the textbook will work for a topic idea, you might decide to focus on one of the issues listed in the Table of Contents: Education and Society; Family Life and Gender Roles; History, Culture, and Civilization; Government, Politics, and Social Justice; Business and Economics; Media and Popular Culture; Literature and the Arts; Philosophy, Ethics, and Religions; Health and Medicine; or Science and Technology.
 

The essay reflects on how the concept of family values is redefined in the light of homosexuality

The essay Family values (1982) by Robert Rodriguez encapsulate and address the theme of homosexuality. It argues that homosexuality is in consonance with family values as against the established notion of homosexuality posing a threat to family values. The essay reflects a potent influence of post-modernist philosophy that thrusts upon personal feelings and introspection (Doll and William p. 32-74). The essay effectively tries to argue how family values are redefined, reimagined and reinterpreted in the light of Rodriguez’s confession about his homosexuality to his parents.

Rodriguez has been greatly influenced by James Baldwin, also known as Jimmy Baldwin (Michael). His literary elegance especially the aplomb with which he described the Jim Crow America made a mark with the writer. Another author whose work has a struck a chord with the author is the writer of ‘Animal Farm’ George Orwell. From Orwell, Rodriguez imbibed the idea that style of narrative needs to be in accord with the essay and investigate the journey of an idea. The writer has employed the short devices by Orwell in articulating his stories. The gay consciousness of the late 1970s and early 1980s has also inspired his work. The author employs lived experiences and emotional appeals; he is successful in this attempt to appeal to the readers.

It is important to note that the author could languidly discuss on the theme of homosexuality because of the socio-political climate where gay rights movement was becoming visible. Hence, there is an unequivocal discussion about homosexuality in the twentieth century which is otherwise a topic of taboo. If the author would have lived a decade prior to the essay, such conversations on homosexuality would have turned out to be a career suicide. The late 1970s America is defined by a series of landmark events that became instrumental in the history of the rights and liberation of homosexuality. October 14, 1979 witnessed one of the largest political mobilizations, the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights organized by the homosexual community known in Washington DC (Encarnación, pp. 90-104). In 1978, Harvey Milk was elected as the first gay man to the public office in the United States. This socio-political climate was fertile and influential in paving the path for the essay.

Rodriguez uses his opinions to create stereotypes of both the American society as well as the cultures of the immigrants. His is not concerned with a particular individual or collective body but pontificates against a national culture of America. The author has condemned the family value upheld by the American society. This can be understood as the pathos It is characterized by the departure of children from their parent’s home, living on their own and carving an identity of one’s own which is different from that of their parents (Haley). Hence, he emphasizes that the family values of an individual is contingent upon the country of origin of the individual. The disposition of American family life can be attributed to the American worldview that is it necessary to challenge the authority and the philosophy that who you are where you came from (Gash and Priscilla, pp. 146-164). The author argues that the American values are evocative of masculine principles that valorize autonomy and strength. Despite, the rise of feminism, women are expected to fulfil the nurturing duties of family. Similarly, the homosexual members in a family are imagined as excessively emotional beings and hence, along with women they are also believed to be compatible for nurturing roles. However, it is the homosexuals who are actually more emancipated as they are unshaken by the societal expectations of sexual division of labour in the family.  At the same time, they engage in relationships without the confines of heteronormative marriage. 

The essay is a commentary on the socio-political climate of the 1970s America


Contrary to other cultures, the American culture is one that creates a distance between the parents and the children (Kagitcibasi, Cigdem and Bilge, pp. 374-292). He juxtaposes the Asian cultural values with that of America. On the positive front of Asian culture, the author argues that appreciates the close-knit nature of the Asian social fabric where they are oriented towards the collective, the family as against the individual. On the negative side, there is repression of individual expressions as there is an expected commitment towards the family. This is illustrated through the story of his friend of Asian origin who was a closet homosexual and was anxious about in what ways he would reveal to his family. This underscores on the ambivalence of the Asian family values that is replete with both advantages and disadvantages. Isabelle Allende, a Chilean American author opines that Latin American is more tribe oriented with clans and extended family members being predominant (American Family Values? Think Immigrant Women Leaders). Allende is also critical about the American family values of the scenario where children go to college and only visit home during thanksgiving. She exhorted the immigrants in USA to retain their distinctive cultural values and not compromise them in the ebb of acculturation and assimilation.

Throughout the text, the author’s polemical account of the American society is salient. The author’s biography as a Mexican immigrant in San Francisco acted as a fodder to his work. As an immigrant with his distinctive cultural values, the author provides a bottom-up view of the American society through an examination of its values. Rodriguez has been vocal about the vernacular language as it creates a sense of intimacy and the segregation that language creates from the white English-speaking people is natural to him. The family language and family life is intimate and important for the author. The author has also been openly gay and hence, his observations and subsequent disapproval of the American worldview of family is justified. All these can be understood as ethos of the text these entrenches his credibility as an author to articulate on family values, migration and homosexuality. Living in the American society, the author had to experience disapproval for choosing to live with his parents which is considered in dissonance with the American family values. This is illustrated in this quote “The assurance of family-continuity, inevitably-is precisely what America encourages its children to overturn. Become your own man” (Rodriguez).

Rodriguez has been influenced by James Baldwin and George Orwell

The author found it difficult to assimilate with the American culture that came with its own cost. The author’s observations about the American culture hints at his discomfort with white American culture. In his argument, the American family values are weak. The author makes generalizations about American culture and Asian culture without delving into the scope for heterogeneity. Rodriguez further engages in generalizations by making a reference to a radio announcer who devoted an entire session castigating the family values. According to Rodriguez, this is paradoxical as the radio announcer was a divorced person inhabiting in the city of New York and hence does not have the authority to sermonize on family values. He mocked America’s romanticization of the immigrant’s determination to embark upon a journey of hardships in a foreign land. They also exalt the immigrant ancestors as the architect of family values and traditions. This is once again paradoxical, as Americans do not espouse the traditional family values (Tsai et al, pp. 1241-1252).This hypocrisy exhibited by the Americans towards the immigrants is interesting as the residents of America are themselves immigrants from different countries. All these indicate the pathos in the text as it evokes sympathy for the author as well makes the readers critical about the nature of family values in America. The author has elegantly employed different kind of appeals to bare his heart about his journey.

This essay is an ode to the ideals of family life that is rooted in the epicentre of Mexican culture. Along with the themes on pangs of immigration, separation of family, adapting to a foreign and dominant culture, the theme of homosexuality lingers throughout the text. The author is poised to make a connection with the readers by appealing to their personal dynamic with the family. The text is redolent of family values and it is imperative to embrace one’s culture against the face of homogenization. The following quote aptly captures the quintessence of Rodriguez’s ebb of emotions “Like branches in a tree we all grow directions but our roots keep us all together.” 

References

American Family Values? Think Immigrant Women Leaders." HuffPost. N.p., 2018. Web. 7 Mar. 2018.

Doll Jr, William E. A post-modern perspective on curriculum. Teachers College Press, 2015.

Encarnación, Omar G. "Gay rights: Why democracy matters." Journal of Democracy 25.3 (2014): 90-104.

Gash, Alison, and Priscilla Yamin. "State, Status, and the American Family." Polity 48.2 (2016): 146-164.

Haley, Alex. Roots: The saga of an American family. Hachette UK, 2016.

Kagitcibasi, Cigdem, and Bilge Ataca. "Value of children, family change, and implications for the care of the elderly." Cross-Cultural Research 49.4 (2015): 374-392.

Michael, David. "Regarding Mystery: An Interview With Richard Rodriguez." The Paris Review. N.p., 2018. Web. 7 Mar. 2018.

Tsai, Kim M., et al. "Parental cultural socialization of Mexican?American adolescents’ family obligation values and behaviors." Child development 86.4 (2015): 1241-1252.

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