What would be a good outline to follow to write a rhetorical essay on Gary Shteyngart' Super Sad True Love Story with respect to the prompt below? Prompt: In Super Sad True Love Story, many...

What would be a good outline to follow to write a rhetorical essay on Gary Shteyngart' Super Sad True Love Story with respect to the prompt below?


In Super Sad True Love Story, many aspects and trends of our present time are extrapolated into the future. While what is depicted in this future reveals "advances" in these aspects and trends, Gary Shteyngart seems to suggest that these "advances" come with a significant human cost. Identify the four most significant examples of today's world that he projects into the novel's future setting and then explain why each is significant and what "human cost," if any, is associated with it.

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To complete your assignment, first you want to identify four significant examples of things going on in today's world that author Gary Shteyngart also refers to in Super Sad True Love Story's futuristic setting. You then want to explain why each example is important and what "human cost" the author associates with each. Below are a few ideas to help get you started.

One would be influence of the media. One example would be the fact that Eunice is revealed to be only interested in shopping for lingerie. She has no interests in her future. One reason for her obsession with lingerie would of course be advertisements for lingerie that media is responsible for. The media has evidently brainwashed her into only thinking about material possessions, something which is absolutely true of today's society. Everywhere we look--TV, magazines, the Internet--all advertise material goods and portray material possessions as the ultimate form of happiness. Gone are the days that many think of deeper elements, such as virtue and spirituality. Hence, just like Shteyngart shows, media developments, like the Internet come at the human cost of lowering levels of human decency, resulting in only materialistic, self-serving human beings.

A second example would be Eunice's low LSAT scores. Eunice's parents want her to become a lawyer because, as the eldest child, they see it as her responsibility to be able to provide for her family and parents. However, evidently Eunice's media influences are affecting her education, something that is absolutely true today. Due to the Internet and other media devices, a dominant cultural trend is reading only off of screens and writing only on keyboards. Problem is, science is now proving that reading off of screens interrupts our normal reading patterns, which lowers our reading-comprehension abilities. Plus, when we read on screens, science is now proving that the language centers of our brain actually do not activate, resulting in very poor language development and poor reading-comprehension skills ("Readers Absorb Less on Kindles than on Paper, Study Finds"). The same goes with keyboards. When we type on a keyboard as opposed to write by hand, science has now proven that again our language centers do not activate, again resulting in poor language skill development and poor writing abilities ("Better Learning Through Handwriting"). It is becoming a proven fact that our current media and technological trends are severely impacting education. The impact on education can also clearly be seen in test scores. Just like Eunice has low LSAT scores, the College Board has been reporting that nearly 57% of students who currently take the SAT are now failing it ("Stagnant 2013 SAT Results are Call to Action for the College Board"). Hence, just as Shteyngart shows, current media and technological trends come at the cost of lowering humanity's educational development, resulting in very poor reading, writing, comprehension, and thinking skills.

Once you decide on all four of your examples and what cost Shteyngart associates with these examples, your next step is to plan your rhetorical essay. To write a rhetorical analysis essay, we must first analyze the text for rhetorical strategies and use these strategies as your main elements of proof. Rhetorical strategies include appeals, such as "ethos, logos, [and] pathos," and rhetorical style, such as "diction, syntax, imagery, tone, etc." ("How to Write: AP Rhetorical Analysis Paragraphs and Essays"). Therefore, for this essay, we don't want to just think about each example of technological advance and how Shteyngart shows that advance comes at a human cost, we want to think about what rhetorical strategy Shteyngart used to capture the particular example and to relate the example to human cost. For example, we might argue that Shteyngart used a great deal of interesting diction to relate Eunice's low LSAT scores to media and technological trends and to show these trends come at a cost.

Once, you have all four examples chosen, have figured out how each example relates to human cost, and have figured out which rhetorical strategy Shteyngart used to capture this example and make his point, you will then be ready to construct your thesis. Once you have your thesis, the rest of the body of your paper might be outlined as follows, where the letters represent the choices you still have to make:

  • I. Use of rhetorical strategy A to illustrate how media and technology leads to materialistic human views.
  • II. Use of rhetorical strategy B to illustrate how media and technological trends result in lower reading, writing, comprehension, and critical thinking skills and thus lower test scores.
  • III. Use of rhetorical strategy C to illustrate example X.
  • IV. Use of rhetorical strategy D to illustrate example Y.

If you feel it would be analytically accurate to do so, you may also find it easier to use only one rhetorical strategy to argue all three examples, so feel free to do so. But of course, being able to do so depends on if your argument would be accurate based on your analysis of the text.

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Super Sad True Love Story

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