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Live Free and Starve

Page history last edited by Jayson Yeagley 9 years ago


                                   Rhetorical Analysis of “Live Free and Starve”


     “Live Free and Starve” (p. 290) is an essay written by Chitra Divakaruni describing what would happen if child labor laws were passed here in America. She intends to explain to the reader the American voter that by passing the child labor law they think it would free the children from the shackles of unruly business owners of third world countries. The purpose of the essay is to describe what is happening to children who are working in factories across third world countries when child labor laws were passed in the House. Divakaruni does so by using pathos, logos and ethos which are supported by vivid description, repetition, and anecdote.


     In her essay, Divakaruni talks about how the passing of a child labor law in the United States which prohibits the import of goods from factories that uses child labor would affect the children’s livelihood. Even though most people would think that the passing of the bill is a step forward for children’s rights, Divakaruni asserts that it is actually doing more harm than good. She depicts the children working in very poor conditions which they are vulnerable to abuse but later questions the reader if these children would choose to work under harsh conditions or live in freedom without the benefit of food, shelter or clothing. She also shared her personal experience regarding child labor when she was growing up in Calcutta. Her mother, even though reluctant at first, volunteered to employ a boy named Nimai in order to save him from being pushed into starvation. Divakaruni proposes that if the American government wants to help these children, they should work hand in hand with Third World countries to solve this problem.


     Divakaruni uses vivid description of the situations those children have to go through to make use of pathos. She explains in detail the conditions those children who are working in the factories have to face daily for long periods of time. For example, she explains that these children spend most of their days in dark, poorly ventilated factories that over time would hurt their health (p. 290-291). She also says that these children are on the streets, begging, stealing or even selling their bodies because of the passing of the bill (p. 292). On top of that she pictures what she sees when she visits her village every year - children by the mud roads, their ribs sticking out through the rags they wore (p. 291). The reason why she vividly describes every situation is so that she could get the reader to fully visualize the trials and tribulations a child has to go through when their childhood is replaced with work. She also uses vivid description because it is the only way she could try to get a reader who has no background growing up in a third world country to fully understand the childrens’ situation.


     On the other hand, Divakaruni uses repetition in parts of her essay to appeal to the readers’ logos. The use of repetition is vital in the essay because it enables the reader to view the child labor situation in a different perspective other than their frame of reference, such as that children should have no worries and be free. The use of repetition can be seen in the last paragraph where she poses a string of questions to the reader – “But where are the schools in which they are to be educated? Where is the money to buy them food and clothing and medication so that they don’t return home to become the extra weight that capsizes the already shaky raft of their family’s finances?” (p. 292). Divakaruni also chose to end her essay with a repetition of questions. This repetition gets the reader to ask themselves and answer them with respect to their own logical reasoning thus the appeal to the readers’ logos.


     Besides that, the author gives credibility to the essay by appealing to her ethos. Divakaruni uses her experience when she was growing up in her hometown and explains what it was like living among children who were forced to work in vivid detail. She uses anecdotes from the past experience which makes her use of ethos effective. She describes that when she was growing up, there was a boy, Nimai, a little older than her who works for her family. He was brought to her family because he was too frail to work in the farm and that his family did not have adequate resources to feed him. This use anecdotes and personal experience convinces the reader that she is someone credible to convey the hardships of



working children and not just a person who reads them from articles or books and conveys them in a different manner.


     In the course of the whole essay, the author makes use of rhetorical elements of vivid description, repetition, and anecdote in order to make her essay credible. She has utilized all three rhetorical strategies of pathos, logos and ethos in a balanced way to make sure there are no doubts the reader could raise. Even though the essay was short, it addressed most of the problems that child labor is causing, why it is happening and how the situation could be handled.






     I chose to revise this essay because there were parts where it was misleading for the reader to understand. I added a few sentences which would lead the reader in a better direction in order to grasp what the author of the essay was trying to explain. In the second paragraph of the essay, which is the summary of the paper, I added a sentence explaining the reactions of Divakaruni’s mother had before volunteering to hire Nimai. This better explains the situation which in turn puts it in perspective for the reader. in addition to that, I added more analysis points in order to explain the reason why the author chose to use vivid description. In the third paragraph, I added a sentence at the end explaining why the author chose to use pathos in the essay. I explained that she uses pathos so that whoever is reading her essay can embody the trials and tribulations these working children have to go through without having a childhood. I also made sure there were no grammatical mistakes which would distract the reader from being focused on the essay. In addition to that, I added transition sentences which helps make a shift of topics more smoothly. As for the second last paragraph, I also added a sentence at the end explaining how the use of ethos by the author benefitted her essay. I explained that her use of ethos convinces her audience that her stories and arguments are coming from a credible source and it was not from a person who just reads books or articles and conveys it in a different manner. 





"Live Free and Starve"

Some of the consumer goods sold in the United States--shoes, clothing, toys, rugs and many things--are made in countries in which labor practices do not meet U.S. standards for safety and fairness.

Children are often forced to work long hours, for nearly slave wages, and are often beaten or mistreated. In many countries they live apart from their families and do not go to school.

Shouldn't the United States use its power to stop these practices?

¶1--Is this what Divakaruni thinks would happen if laws like this were passed? Or is she countering this viewpoint?

¶3--Does Divakaruni agree partially with these opposing voices? Why does she mention it here?

¶4--Here is where she questions the effect of this legislation. What does she base her argument on?

¶5--What is she criticizing in this paragraph? Is she right?
Where are we on Maslow's pyramidal hierarchy of needs? In this case, why is it so hard to see that some people might prefer bread to freedom?

¶6--What writing method(s) does Divakaruni use here, and why? What is this an example of? What conclusion are we to reach from this example?
According to the author, what is some of the CAUSES of child labor?

¶7--What are some of the EFFECTS of not being to employ children?

¶8--What point does she make by her statement? Is her example a good one that supports her thesis?
What is exactly the fault of Americans here?
Why did we abolish child labor in the USA? Or did we?


Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs--

Most psychologists studied people with problems, but Maslow studied successful people. He concluded that everybody wants to be happy and loving, but they have particular needs that must be met before they can act unselfishly.

Maslow argued that most people want more than they have. Once a person has met his needs on a lower level, he can develop higher needs. Maslow created a hierarchy to indicate which needs needed to be met first.

  1. Physiological needs: biological necessities such as food, water and oxygen. These needs are the strongest, since a person would die if they were not met.
  2. Safety needs: People need to feel safe before they can develop the higher needs. This need especially affects children who don't feel safe.
  3. Love and Belonging needs: The need to feel valuable, to have self-respect and the respect of others. If a person does not fulfill these needs, she feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.
  4. Esteem needs: The need to feel valuable, to have self-respect and the respect of others. If these needs are not met, a person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.
  5. Self-actualization needs: A very small group of people reach a level called self-actualization, where all their needs are met. This stage Maslow referred to as people finding their callings.

Self actualization is not fame or fortune. Wealthy or famous people are not necessarily self-actualized.




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