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How can I argue that Uchida's book Desert Exile is persuasive in a 500-word essay?

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In class we discussed how you can use the plot of Desert Exile to articulate why Uchida's book is an argument. Now, you should have a better idea of what arguments are, how to identify them and how to distinguish a good argument from a bad one. The next step would be to write your essay in class.

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Desert Exile is a novel by Yoshiko Uchida that explores the author's personal experiences of being a Japanese-American teenager during the World War II era. Specifically, Uchida focuses on how she was suddenly deprived of the carefree American life she had been enjoying. Without warning, she became the enemy of the American people. Uchida writes about her feelings of being degraded, humiliated, and longing for home. Much of the novel focuses on her experiences in the Japanese-American concentration camps set up during WWII.

These concentration camps were a dark point in American history. The country demonized a group of its citizens based exclusively on racial prejudices. Since Uchida lived through this experience, she's able to provide us with a firsthand account of how horrible it was. Therefore, if I were you, I would focus on how Uchida's experiences show us that the United States should never repeat the mistake of concentration camps ever again.

Focus on the injustices that were done to Uchida and her family. Document them and try to group them together based on overarching themes. For example, you could devote some of your paper to the life that was taken away from her and some of it to the indignities she experiences at the concentration camp.

When writing an argumentative essay, you want to include ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is an ethical appeal, pathos is an emotional appeal, and logos is a logical appeal. I'm confident that you'll craft a solid paper if you're able to use Uchida's experiences to appeal to people in all three of these ways.

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The most important element in writing a critical essay is its structure. You should try to present an engaging introduction, a well thought-out argument, and a well-supported conclusion. In this case, your introduction might include some general information about Uchida’s book. For instance, you may start your essay like so:

Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese American Family is a 2015 nonfictional, autobiographical novel written by Japanese American author Yoshiko Uchida. It is, in fact, a memoir of sorts, which tells the author’s own account of her life during and after the Second World War, and the hardships and imprisonment of the Japanese American people (many of whom were United States citizens) by the American Government. The novel consists of eight chapters and an epilogue, in which Uchida explains her reasons for writing the book and recaps all of her experiences.

Then, you should focus on presenting the main point of the essay. You should start by writing that Uchida’s book is an argument in itself, in the fight against discrimination and racism, as it provides detailed information about the oppression and the mistreatment of the Issei—the often-poor Japanese immigrants who came to the US to find a better life and provide for their families, and the Nisei—the children of these Japanese immigrants, who were, basically, American citizens. They rarely spoke Japanese, and their knowledge of Japanese culture and their origin was primarily gained through their parents' stories and testimonials.

The memoir explains the effects and consequences of such immoral and evil notions, and encourages the readers to fight for justice, equality and acceptance of all people, no matter their race, gender or socioeconomic status. You should also mention that Uchida’s novel is told from her point of view only, as it is a retrospective retelling of her and her family’s struggles during and after the Second World War. My advice would be to elaborate a bit more on the subject, and even use some quotes from some of the chapters that will further strengthen the point of the argument. I’d suggest chapter 3, as it explains the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was a tragic event in American history, where many Japanese Americans were questioned on their loyalty and intentions.

Finally, you should conclude your essay by stating that Uchida’s novel is, essentially, a reminder of something that we do not wish to happen again. It focuses on massive sociological and moral problems which mustn’t be ignored and left unsolved, because we must not allow history to repeat itself. I would also suggest exploring the novel’s themes and conflicts, as they might prove useful in your research.

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