Summary and Critique of Argument
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In “if you assign my book don’t censor it’’ published in Kernersville, N.C on November 28, 1999, Mark Mathabane argues the high school that assign his novel ‘’Kaffir Boy’’ should not censor chunks of his book that contributes to the meaning of the novel. This novel is about Mathabanes childhood, living in Africa during the during the apartheid period. There is mature scene and language in this novel that parents would disagree with, but all with reason and purpose. He argues that those parts censored teach lessons, not to take everyday things like food or freedom for granted, to utilize education as a tool to make our society better, and to always to have the urge make the right choices in life. Mathabane uses all three logos, pathos and ethos to support his claim; he also uses his personal experiences to contribute to his argument to not censor parts in his novel that serve a great importance and lesson.
Mathabanes strongly fights his argument by using logos, ethos, and pathos. Although, his logic could have been taking as a fallacy when explaining peer pressure, because some kids are strong minded and don’t fall under peer pressure. None the less, he was still very convincing and proved the point that taking away parts of his novel is wrong because it takes away major purpose of the book. Mathabanes shows the audience a different and more positive way to look at the more mature parts of the book as a lesson and shows them how to understand the bigger meaning and purpose of those parts. By sharing experiences from his personal life he creates a connection with the readers and gave him the opportunity to receive a lot of feedback. He connects to both sides by letting the audience know that he also pays close attention to what his three children ages 6, 8 and 10 read so he carefully writes the mature scenes in way they would understand.
He proves that his novel is useful and can be used to improve the reader’s sense of duty in life. In a major scene in the book his friends are involved in prostitution for exachange of food. Mathabanes refuses and then is shunned by his peers. Mathabane uses logic by showing how to resist peer pressure and how hard it is to do for a younger crowd. This is where he could be accused of committing fallacy because even though peer pressure does occur in a lot of cases with younger kids, it does not categorize everyone. There are a lot of level headed kids as well that do not fall under peer pressure. Therefore, readers may take this positively or they may take it negatively. “Resisting peer pressure is one of the toughest things for young people to do. That is the lesson of the prostitution scene. It’s a lesson that seems to be lost on the people who want to censor my book. Teenagers understand what peer pressure is. They confront tough choices every day, particularly if they happen to live in environments where child abuse, poverty, violence and death are commonplace, where innocence dies young, and where children can’t afford to be children” (paragraph 14).
This is another fallacy he made because he is deciding the background of kids when not all kids go through the same thing. There are too many assumptions being made in that statement and depending on how the audiences emotions are towards this it can affect how much they believe what he says. Mathabane pulls a lot of sympathy from the audience when he reveals the prostitution scene; this helps show case his point of view. This is a form of pathos because he is reeling the audience in, in his favor.
He explains how he goes and speaks with people from South Africa every year to explain his life and what he went through during apartheid. He explained to the audience how lucky Americans where to be living free in America and not to take that freedom for granted. By him explaining his horrible situations and lifestyle living in South Africa, it makes the audience appreciate where they live and not take their freedom for granted. ’’ My father, the only breadwinner in a family of nine, had been arrested for the crime of being unemployed. There was no food in our shack, and my mother couldn’t even get the usual cattle blood from the slaughterhouse to boil as soup’’ (Paragraph 12).
This statement connects with the reader emotionally; opening their eyes and making them realize the struggle. By sharing his personal experience he uses the ethos technique. He tells his story first hand by doing so he gets more credibility from the audience because they know it’s coming straight from the source. Mathabane illustrates how during the Soweto uprising of 1976, hundreds of students died fighting for recognition of their unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (paragraph 4). Also, clarifying that him and his peers where forbidden to read the U.S Bill of Rights. Mathabane , makes the reader realize to really utilize and appreciate their basic essentials in life and show them how important it is that they have them. He makes the readers feel respect for what he has been through and for his novel.
This contributing to his argument, if the mature scenes are taken out of the novel it will ruin the significance to the lesson of the book. Logos, ethos and pathos are all used by Mathabate all in effort to make his claim true. Even though he did have some fallacies when using the logos technique he still had a heavy argument and was convincing in his point not to censor important scenes in his novel. He connected to the readers on an emotional level and painted a picture in their heads on the struggle of his life, which was in favor for him by getting sympathy. That led the audience to realize to not take the small things in life for granted such as food and freedom. The mature parts of this novel are intense but without the intensity it would not leave an impression on the reader making them understand the importance and lesson of the story itself.