Stone Soup

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Barbara Kingsolver, the author of Stone Soup, is the creator of the Bellwether prize and holds an honorary Ph.D. from the prestigious DePauw University. In this article, she puts forward a strong argument on how a whole family cannot be limited to the archaic beliefs of the “family of dolls” – a representation of the nuclear family. Kingsolver has meticulously developed this argument by employing numerous congruous examples of historical facts, anecdotal situations, and a supplement of a series of thoughts which ignite rhetorical questions with efficient reference to various literature articles. In her writing, Kingsolver vehemently condemns the traditional perception of families which requires the modern families to be broken or failed to suit the archaic irrational beliefs of the elders. Kingsolver embarks on a mission of building her credibility with her personal experience while citing convincing facts and statistics from reputable sources.

Kingsolver addresses her readers as individuals who have been part and parcel of the various family settings. The author makes the readers ponder on what a family is, while employing medically-based similes to describe the pain of failed marriages. Additionally, Kingsolver has directly appealed to her readers by acknowledging their ideas on an ideal family but proceeds to enlighten the readers on the functionality of the modern families. In her article, Kingsolver sets the platform by introducing a scenario whereby, after an overwhelming performance on the soccer field, a young boy sees his family joining him. She proceeds further to bring out what he calls the family of dolls making an assumption that her audience is completely aware of what she is referring to. Kingsolver continues by relating the family of dolls and the real families in our societies. The author also proceeds to give us in-depth insight into her personal experience in marriage which eventually ended up in a breakup. She openly underlines her naivety as any girl child in her age while exposing her initial ignorance on the beliefs of divorce. She ends showing her contempt and disgust for the medieval believes that have served to demean and criticize the broken families which include single parenthood, divorce, remarriage and blended families. Kingsolver finally suggests that the notion of families attaining perfect functionality in isolation should be let go for us to embrace the relief of the community.

Throughout this piece, Kingsolver has thoroughly used numerous statements to distinctly bring her argument out and be able to maintain the appeal to ethos on her readers. She believes that the society has been entirely unfair in its criticism channeled towards what she calls the “broken” families. According Kingsolver (275), the society has endured an extended period of negativity and contempt to the divorced, single parenthood and gay parents. For instance, she depicts her total support to the statement that nontraditional family arrangements do not need any special examination, discriminated or ridiculed in any way. She says “Arguing about whether nontraditional families deserve pity or tolerance is a little like the medieval debate about left-handedness as a mark of the devil” (Kingsolver 275). Looking at her statement, one can explicitly agree that the author is a strong proponent of the nontraditional families which she believes that they deserve recognition as other married or traditional families. She also employs her own personal examples from her own family to supplement her argument which implies that she is providing firsthand information to back up her claims while appealing to her readers to back her argument.

In addition to her ethos appeals, Kingsolver uses a number of pathetic appeals to invoke the readers’ emotions in an attempt of gaining approval of the argument and ideas. A typical example is a moment she is explaining how asphyxiating a non-functional marriage is. She says: “…it is waking up despised each morning listening to the pulse of your own loneliness before the radio begins to blare its raucous gospel that you’re nothing if you aren’t loved” (Kingsolver 276). In this context, the author has tried to stir the emotions of the reader by creating a feeling of sympathy and compassion or sadness by the way she describes the situation in a family living with numerous conflicts and irreconcilable differences. She also introduces an emotional section full of words and phrases that are ironically evoking sympathetic emotions from her readers. In one of her statements, she says that; “like a cancer diagnosis, a dying marriage is a thing to fight, to deny and finally, when there is a choice left to dig in and survive” (Kingsolver 277). The image she brings out here by likening a dying marriage to cancer is that of massive suffering and challenges. Clearly, her goal here is to make the reader to feel sympathy and evoke negative emotions about dying marriages or tolerating breaking marriages.

Alongside the strong pathetic appeal used, the author has introduced some aspects of appeals to logos by using some facts and statistics with some logical progression of ideas. Precisely, she says that the poverty levels for children in the US at the moment was 20%. An unfathomably large number. The birthrate for teenage girls 1957 was at ninety-six per thousand which is double the rate now (Kingsolver 279). The statistics and facts serve to emphasize on the long-lasting effects of supporting the idea of breaking modern families to help the traditional families. Importantly, these are among the few statistics that Kingsolver has used to logically support her claim of supporting what she calls the modern families. This appeal to logos, substantiates her claims and makes the reader to be impressed with her school of thought that this is indeed a problem worth to be discussed.

To sum up, Kingsolver introduced the essay by putting the reader in the limelight on what is expected from a perfect family. Clearly, by employing all these appeals, the author has effectively established a rhetorical relationship with the reader by expressing her negative feelings concerning the society and its unfair criticism towards marital aspects that revolve around divorce, single parenthood and marriages. Having underwent the divorcing process herself, Kingsolver has made the reader to view her ideas from her own point of view by expressing the effects of divorce on herself and her daughter, which further enhances the rhetoric relationship with her readers. She develops her argument throughout the essay and emphasizes on her stand by providing her personal life experiences to back up her claims. By all means, we can agree that Kingsolver has effectively driven the point home considering all the appeals used.

Work Cited

Kingsolver, Barbara. "Stone Soup."Occasions for Writing: Evidence, Idea, Essay (1995): 274-78.

December 12, 2023

Family Literature

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