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Monmouth University, Spring 2019
EN102-43—College Composition II
Dr. Frank Fury
Essay #2 description
Wednesday February 20
Counts for 15% of overall course grade
The Essay #2 assignment comprises your second comparison paper of the semester. The
intent here is to continue the comparison work that was the focus of the Essay #1
assignment and become more proficient at it by practicing it here again.
The premise here is to write a comparison of two authors’ discussion of their individual
experiences living in the United States. Here are your choices for comparison for Essay #2:

Silko’s “Pueblo Indian Perspective” (57) and Momaday’s “The Way to Rainy
Mountain” (108)
Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village” (118) and Harris’s “No Disrespect” (128)
Alexie’s “Superman and Me” (63) and Oatman’s “Admittance to a Better Life” (an
audio essay: can be found on YouTube)
Liu’s “Notes of a Native Speaker” (100) and “Toni” (114)
Rodriguez’s “Aria” (211) and Lahiri’s “My Two Lives” (97)
You may mix and match these articles if you find a more apt basis for comparison
in some other way. Note: You may NOT compare Baldwin and Momaday.
You are free to develop your own focus for your comparison. Regardless of the nature of
your approach, your comparison must center on comparing in some way the individual
experiences of two of the writers listed. It is up to you how you choose to discuss their
experiences. As with Essay #1, try selecting just one major point of comparison that will
allow the entire essay to be structured or focused around that one major common thread
that connects the two authors.
In terms of structuring your essay, be sure it features an introductory paragraph, body
paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. You should use a similar organizational approach
to the one you used for Essay #1, with each author and text being discussed in every
paragraph (i.e. the “point-by-point” format). You should spend very little time summarizing
the two essays. Rather, incorporate only those details from the essays that support your
comparison, whatever the nature of that comparison may be.
The essay should be written in MLA format. It must use parenthetical citations for
quotations and paraphrases of information from the two essays. It must also have a Works
Cited page at the end. This essay’s length should be approximately 1,250-1,500 words.
DUE: Please submit your essay to the appropriate eCampus “Assignments” dropbox folder
on Monday March 11 by no later than 4:30pm.
Student 1
Professor Fury
February 23, 2017
Cultural Barriers
We live in a world filled with stereotypes and expectations, sometimes you
may not even realize it but majority of us make judgments about other people and
expect others to do certain things before taking a minute to really think about it.
Two authors that discuss what it is like to be in the minority and their struggle to
break the expectations that are against them are Sherman Alexie, Native American,
in “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” and Richard Rodriguez, son
of Mexican immigrants, in “Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood”. Rodriguez’s
story is about growing up as a bilingual and bicultural boy in Sacramento, which is
mainly a white neighborhood (211). Alexie’s story was an account about how he
refused to fail even though he was expected to just because he was Native American.
Both Alexie and Rodriguez discuss how they are the minority. Rodriguez
explains, “an accident of geography sent me to a school where all my classmates
were white, many the children of doctors and lawyers and business executives”
(212). Rodriguez was the son of two Mexican immigrants who only spoke Spanish
so that is all he knew growing up. When he went to school he felt like the odd one
out and because he did not know any English at all he felt very alone and confused.
He would try to pick up on certain words but it was very hard for him to learn
anything in school because of the language barrier that he was up against. Similarly,
Alexie also was in the minority but not for the same reasons. Alexie was in the
minority because he wanted to be something and someone one day and because his
Student 2
father was one of the very few Indians who attended Catholic school on purpose
(63). He was born on the Spokane Indian Reserve and lived in a very close-knit
“paragraph” as he explains it, which really was a tight enclosed Reservation.
Whether you are in the minority or not, being a human being comes along
with expectations and stereotypes no matter where you come from or what your
situations is; someone will always have something to say. Both Alexie and Rodriguez
went through this throughout their childhood. Alexie explains that, “a smart Indian
is a dangerous person widely eared and ridiculed by Indians and non-Indians alike. I
fought with my classmates on a daily basis. They wanted me to stay quiet when the
non- Indian teacher asked for answers, for volunteers, for help. We were Indian
children who were expected to be stupid” (64). He further explained that all of these
Indian kids who would pretend to not know anything in the classroom or in front of
anyone who was not an Indian themselves really knew that they were very smart
and had potential; they could tell very complicated stories and jokes and stand up
for themselves when it came to another Indian, however, when it came to nonIndians they pretended like they didn’t have a voice because that is what they were
told they were supposed to do (65). Although Alexie grew up with kids who lived up
to their expectations, he refused to. Alexie had a different mind set than majority of
everyone else he was surrounded by and knew that he could use his intelligence for
something rather than keeping it a secret to those outside his “paragraph”. On the
other hand, Rodriguez was expected to sit in an English-speaking classroom when
all he knew was Spanish. When he arrived at his first day of school his teacher said
Student 3
his name in English and that was the first time he had ever heard it being said like
that so he felt very out of place and looked to his mother for comfort.
Since both Rodriguez and Alexie went through these challenges, they both
had to rise above them and beat the expectations others had for them by creating
their own solutions. Alexie chose to teach himself how to read. He used to read a
Superman comic book when he was three years old and look at the illustrations and
pretend to read the words on the pages based off of the picture he saw. Once he
found a passion for reading he would read any chance he could get. He used the
sentence, “ I loved those books, but I also knew that love had only one purpose. I
was trying to save my life” to express how important it was to showcase and use his
intelligence that he knew he had, it made him feel like he had a purpose. When
Alexie grew up he became a write who wrote novels, short stories, and poems even
though he was never taught that an Indian could ever do those things. He reached
his goal and became more or less a ‘literacy hero’ just like Superman and broke
down cultural barriers that were instilled in him. Similar to this is Rodriguez’s
approach. When he went to school he knew all of about 50 English words and found
it very had to be in a classroom so the school system offered him “bilingual
education”, however, he was not a supporter of this. Bilingual education is a
program that allows non-English speaking students to use their “family language” in
school (212). Rodriguez thought that this was discriminating because he felt that
Spanish was his “private language” and he should have the right and obligation to
speak the public language so he did not have to be set apart from his classmates. As
the years went on he was not picking up a lot of English because Spanish was still
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spoken at home so his teachers had a conference with his parents where they
encouraged them to speak English as home. As time went on he learned more and
more English, went to tutoring sessions, and lost his sense of private individuality
(220). Rodriguez was expected to change his way of life and become something that
he was not and unlike Alexie he conformed; he was taught that English was the
public language and Spanish was the private language and eventually he lost a sense
of home when his family was forced to talk English.
Both authors, Alexie and Rodriguez, has very similar experiences, however,
they chose to handle it in different ways. Alexie had to choose between becoming
the stereotypical Indian or to showcase his intelligence and Rodriquez had to choose
between conforming to the public language or sticking to his private language in
school while keeping his individuality intact. This shows that everyone has choices
in life and it is how you handle them that make all the difference.
Student 5
Works Cited
Bloom, Lynn Z. Arlington reader: themes for writers. N.p.: Bedford Bks St Martin’s,
2013. Print.
Formulating effective thesis statements
➔ Try beginning with a question.
In what ways do Rodriguez’s and Alexie’s minority experiences
differ? [too broad]
In what ways do Rodriguez and Alexie each perceive their minority
status and how does each individual respond to that perception?
[more specific—allows you to develop a response that addresses
the comparison in a more meaningful way]
➔ Your answer to the question you have developed becomes
your thesis statement.

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