Summary of Article:
Barbara Ehrenreich has a conversation with her friend about cultural heritage. Her friend’s is very rich, but Ehrenreich’s heritage leaves much to be desired. Ehrenreich then goes on a reflective journey wherein she discovers that her heritage lies precisely in the fact that she does not have one, just as none of her forbearers ever did. This is a fact she is proud of and is willing to defend.

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Identify the situation:
The writer is writing on the topic because an outside person stimulated her interest in it. Unlike other people, this writer takes a different view on the topic than most people might. Ehrenreich attempts to prove in this piece that cultural heritage can take on more forms than simply a long line of ancestry engaging in similar practices and believing the same things.

Identify the writer’s purpose:
She wants people to consider that one cultural background my simply be what appears not to be one. Not having a heritage, not having a family religion or being part of a culture might be precisely where some people derive their heritage. Ehrenreich deplores the idea that all heritage has to be some form of religion or practice. She thinks just the opposite can be so. Ehrenreich argues that her lack of heritage, religion and tradition comes from her forbearers, thereby making it a form of heritage. After admitting that she does not believe in God, Ehrenreich explains that her “parents had not believed in God either, nor had my grandparents or any other progenitors going back to the great-great level” (Ehrenreich, 48). Her point here is that the lack of religious heritage in her family is part of her ancestry.

Identify the writers claim:
The writer’s main claim is that cultural heritage does not need to be precise and well-accounted to be an honorable heritage. Most people maintain that this form of heritage is vital, in large part because of “the desire to reinforce a sense of identity” (Stenning). She also claims that because she comes from a long line of people who did not place value on their heritage, this lack of reverence for the past is part of her heritage. This view is not held but Ehrenreich alone: “We need to give equal weight to preserving the intangible heritage” (Stenning). Ehrenreich is tired of the idea that the only form of heritage is a sort of long line of ancestors doing the same thing and believing the same thing all the way down to you. There can be other kinds, and she is evidence of one kind.

Identify and evaluate Logos:
Linguistic style is used to great effect by this writer. The writer shows through her expressive and detailed tone that her argument is validly evidenced-based. She does an excellent job through her choice of words, as well as her sentence and paragraph structure, of helping us feel her emotion. The reader is never wanting for sufficient description in this article. Everything is expressed clearly and concisely. There is no way in which I felt that she used logos ineffectively.

Identify and evaluate Ethos:
Ethos was used less effectively than logos. The writer tries to persuade her audience of the credibility of her claim that lack of heritage can be its own form of heritage. Her argument hinges on the hypothesis that having some heritage is what people respect and admire about others. She then sets out describing her non-heritage as a form of heritage that she is distinctively proud of. This argument falls flat because it does nothing to prove to her detractors as to why it is valid. One does not get the sense that she is proud of her heritage, only that she is proud of the consistent ambivalence found throughout her ancestry that she too now displays. If she were truly proud of her heritage, her argument would have made more of an appeal to the respect and honor she has for forbearers. Rather, the writer brandishes her like of respect for her ancestors as evidence that she is following in their path.

Identify and evaluate Pathos:
As with ethos, Barbara Ehrenreich’s argument falls short. While Ehrenreich does use pathos to greater significance, it is still left wanting. We do feel her emotion, and the writer does display it well. She is genuinely distressed by the question her friend poses to her, and it even appears to lead to slight amounts of both jealousy and defensiveness. But it is in these too emotions that we know her argument to be lacking. Ehrenreich’s search for her cultural identity is based largely on jealousy, on wanting to claim some sort of heritage for herself. And she does so in very defensive way.

Identify the writer’s audience:
I know nothing about the writer’s audience. I imagine that they are people similar to her. The people most likely to take interest in her writing are other people who have lack any social heritage.

What does the language imply about readers? The writer’s references? The structure of the essay?
The language shows clearly that this topic is one that the writer is interested in to the point of debate: “We are the kind of people, I realized—whatever our distant ancestors’ religions—who do not believe” (Ehrenreich, 48). She lets others have their opinions, but she deplores the idea of conforming to them.

Ehrenreich does not use any references. Rather, she depends solely on a logic-based argument, and her structure is that of a story. She takes her audience on a journey through her though while these things were happening to her. Are argument develops as the thought in the story she is telling does.

Summary: (10 Points) summarize your findings as to the effectiveness of the article reviewed.
The article is ineffective. Only those who already agree with the writer or find personal value in Ehrenreich’s words will agree with them. Everyone else recognizes the inherent flaws in her reasoning. Ehrenreich relies entirely on her own personal feelings. She does not consult other sources, she does not refute opposing arguments, and she does not even acknowledge the possibility that there may be other view points.

  • Ehrenreich, Barbara. “Cultural Baggage.” New York Times. 1992. Destroying cultural heritage: more than just material
  • Stenning, Stephen. “Destroying cultural heritage: more than just material damage.” 2014. British Council.