Using specific examples from Kozol's essay, how is independence and choice related to literacy?  

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kozol makes the argument that individuals have choices when they are able to read.  For example, consider the Campbell's soup can labels to which  Kozol alludes.  He argues that because they all look fundamentally alike, it is near impossible for someone who is illiterate to really understand what they are eating or what they choose to purchase.  Accordingly, those who are illiterate are depending on the pictures on boxes or labels to help guide them, indicating a lack of choice because of illiteracy.  This spills over into the realm of children.  Someone who is illiterate cannot understand the letters that come home from schools and teachers.  The illiterate parent cannot understand "the SAT Prep classes" that are being offered, courses that open doors to children for college and higher education.  This is another example of how Kozol argues that illiteracy removes the issue of independence and choice.  Finally, the issue of driving and navigating street signs and instructions are related to the issue of independence and choice.  The 48 year old man to conclude the article whose car broke down, but could not tell the police officer where he was because he could not read a street sign reflects how independence is minimized because of his illiteracy. All he could say was that he was "on a one way street."  There is no better image to reflect the dependence and lack of choice in the existence of someone who is illiterate than this one.