?Arielle Hewitt 894wc
Engl 1302-3211
Analysis- Final Draft
There is no true definition of what it means to be American. The American identity has changed drastically with time. In The Discovery of What it Means to be American (1959)??? the author James Baldwin suggest that no ones knows the true sound definition of being an American.
A title is the first thing that audience will notice, so it should be an attention grabber right from the start. Titles too long or bland can lose your audience attention before they even read the first line. Baldwins The Discovery of What it Means to be American is a strong attention grabber. Its direct and to the point, inviting the reader to want to discover what it means to be American.
A claim is the authors position on an argument. The claim should be strong, direct, and to the point so that the reader is clear on what the author is arguing for or against. Baldwins claim in the article is, ???No one in the world seems to know exactly what it describes, not even we motley millions who call ourselves America??? (31). Baldwins claim is weak because of its wording. Theres no doubt that the claim drives a good point but there can be too many implications with the way its worded. I would change the claim to, ???No one in the world seems to know exactly what being American describes, not even we motley millions who call ourselves America???. Just by adding the word ???America??? to the claim gives it a whole new meaning than it had before. It helps strengthen his claim by giving the audience a clear definition of what his argument is referring to.
The opposition is another part of an argument it entails what the other side thinks of the argument. Baldwin clearly states his opposition as being that other ???whites??? are no more American than he is by definition of color(31). What he suggests is that color does not have much to do with an American identity. It is clear to Baldwin that with the American identity comes the first assumption of race but he writes to show his way around that opposition. The opposition seems to be quoted unfairly because it does not give a large enough detailed description on who opposes. Baldwins opposition itself is strong in meaning but without a clear definition of the source it came from it could be a credit less opposition.
Experts in an argument play a important part on the credibility of the argument. Facts are a must when trying to persuade an audience, they care much less about what you think and more about what you know. Baldwins article lacks a strong use of expertise background. Many of his examples are valid enough and are great illustrations of the points he is trying to prove in his argument but many of them lack credibility and significance. In one section of the article Baldwin sates ???A European writer considers himself to be a part of an old and honorable tradition- of intellectual activity, of letters- and his choice of a vocation does not cause him any uneasy wonders as to whether or not it will cost him all of his friends??? (32). That sentence alone poses a lot of implications that are highly questionable. Baldwin, mentions ???A European writer??? this could be a very broad classification that the reader may find not to be credible and may toss it out. The audience may wonder what kind of writer this person may be or how much experience this person has had in writing. When the audience has to make too many implied decisions it weakens the argument because not enough information is given.
Evidence is a critical part of an argument because without it the author has no way to prove his point. Much of Baldwins evidence is from personal experience. Although he does bring in an outside source, mentioning the infamous Russian novel Anna Karenima by Leo Tolstoy,that one source alone doesnt provide enough evidence. Personal experience can be a strong source for evidence but it cant work alone in order to have an effective argument. If Baldwin had a few more outside input on his position then his argument could stand even stronger.
Common ground in an argument is a point where both sides come to an agreement to something. I believe that James Baldwin strongest point in his argument is his common ground. Baldwin clearly mentions that ???no matter where our fathers had been born, or what they had endured, the fact of Europe had formed us both, was part of our identity and part of an inheritance??? (31). It is unquestionable that Europe has some sort of impact on either forms of Americans. This is a strong common ground because either side can agree on the idea that Europe had a impact in the formation,whether it be positive or negative, on both Americans and Europeans.
Baldwins idea behind the true ???American Identity??? is an arguable subject but he does not provide enough evidence to support his position in an effective way. What his argument lacks is expertise which makes his argument lose much of its credibility if it had any to begin with. He based his reasoning much on personal experience and many readers want facts to back up an argument because its strong. I do believe his motive and ideas were good but he didnt have enough factual details to back it up.


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