Discuss Three Appeals To Ethos In This Essay

What are some appeals to ethos in Francine Prose's essay "I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read"? What different roles, or personae, does Prose use to establish her ethos?

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In “I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read,” writer and scholar Francine Prose makes a sustained argument against the current state of literature education in the United States. At present, she writes, high school students are assigned low-quality texts which inevitably damage their ability to mature into adult appreciators of literature. She argues that the foundations of one’s literary tastes crystallize in adolescence and that for that reason, it ought to be “doubly important that students are actually reading literature.” She defends her claim by making three appeals to her expertise on the subject—otherwise known as an “ethical appeal.”

First, she appeals to her status as the mother of two young men, one seventeen and the other twenty-one. She recalls being “increasingly appalled” at the “dismal lists” of “trash and semi-trash” that comprised her sons’ annual required reading lists. While she mentions that they have been assigned “Shakespeare, Hawthorne...

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