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Comparing Tough Times Essay

1076 words - 5 pages

Comparing Tough Times
     Authors have done many essays on learning and teaching. In two particular essays, the authors focus more on reading and learning to speak good, which is also associated with reading. The narrators in Frederick Douglas’s essay “Learning to Read and Write” and Maxine Hong Kingston’s “Learning to Speak Like and American Girl” not only tell the reader about their conflict of relationship between society’s dominant culture and their own sense of identity, but educate the reader and explain the choices the characters make which determine the direction of their lives.
     In “Learning to ...view middle of the document...

The speaker in “Learning to Speak Like and American Girl” is a young Chinese girl learning to speak and read English fluently. Both authors have similar conflicts yet they represent a different era in history.
     In these essays, the authors are telling a story about the characters life. The stories are directed towards the audience to express the kind of pain and suffering the characters went through to learn and apply what they had been yearning for. The authors are trying to educate the audience about the time period and what the people at this time in history went through to become part of society. “Every little while, I could hear something about the abolitionists. It was some time before I had found what the word meant.”(1004) in this excerpt from “Learning to Read and Write” we understand that this time period was during the Civil War which was mainly over slavery. In “Learning to Read and Write” slaves were not allowed to know how to read and write. As stated above the young slave bargained with the young white boys and was taught secretively what he has wanted to know. During World War II, many immigrants in the United States were looked as terrorists even though most were here to learn a new and better way of life. In “Learning to Speak Like and American Girl” the young Chinese girl was not very clear and loud with her English. She would have to speak in front of the class but the teacher would make her talk louder and repeat what she had read until she got it right. Most of the students would laugh at her and call her names but she continued to try and learn English the way everyone spoke it. These essays educate readers not only in time period, but in experience with what they went through.
      In each of these essays, the characters personal choices greatly determine the direction of their lives. In the beginning of “Learning to Read and Write” the setting takes...

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