Flipping from essay to essay, I find no interest in any of the stories presented within NPR’s Special Series collection. Such a drag it is to read an entire essay and ultimately deciding that | find no attractiveness in it gets annoying. Then, after 17 long, uninteresting essays, this one, unique story catches my eye. Scanning this essay, it screamed ‘plot twist’ and ‘irony! “Caring Makes Us Human” by Troy Chapman has to be one of the best choices for an essay to be read by ENGL 1301 students.
This essay brings the reader in with an uncommon story, mentions a problem thought of by many people, and ends with information that can change the common perspective of many based on the writer’s studies. It is not only well structured and interpretable for many ages, but attractive to readers because it discusses a problem not constantly discussed by anyone, it a situation you wouldn’t expect, and from a person many people typically wouldn’t believe has the education to address this problem; an inmate himself. Chapman’s essay begins with an uncommon story, immediately attracting the reader.
When stating,” the scruffy orange cat showed up in the prison yard, I was one of the first to go out there and pet it” (Chapman), you instantly begin to question whether or not this is a story written by a guard or an inmate, and how weird it is that you’re attracted to the story because of the fact that this crazy cat just stepped foot into a prison, commonly thought of to be compacted of vicious criminals. When you hear the word “prison”, it is almost guaranteed that negative thoughts will fill your mind, so to begin a story with it is very ironic after reading a title called “Caring makes us Human”.
I believe that caring for something or someone in need is what makes us human” (Chapman), would be expected to come from a doctor, teacher, or maybe even a priest, but someone within a prison? This is the type of irony that catches a reader’s attention. Within the essay, Chapman uses a problem brought about by many people to carry his story. By this, Chapman claims that people bring up prisons and state, “some even talk about making prisons more kind” (Chapman), because they are known to be a place where “kindness is not a value that’s encouraged” (Chapman).
People believe that prisons should be more helpful, without realizing the good some already do, “even lifers can become model inmates who in turn mentor other prisoners and who help reduce tensions behind bars” (Keller). By incorporating the people’s opinions into an essay, a writer can grab the attention of the reader, and make them feel as if they are reading something they may be connected to. To read something and feel as if your questions or opinions on a particular subject are being answered, has to be one of the greatest ways to keep that focus you’ve helped the reader obtain.
The greatest aspect of this story overall has to be the irony that eventually persuades you into changing your opinion on inmates. Irony creates a sense of curiosity; questioning that eventually is figured out and turns your thoughts in a different direction compared to what you thought at the beginning. Chapman gives hints towards the end of his essay that intelligence is judged by one’s job or life. “He didn’t have a Ph. D. , he wasn’t a criminologist or a psychologist” (Chapman), shows that Chapman was comparing the cat’s ability to help one, with people maintaining some of the highest degrees or way of thinking.
People have a tendency to think that inmates have a lower sense of knowledge based on their education level or record of felonies. When hearing that “68% of State prison inmates did not receive a high school diploma” (Carloine), nobody expects an inmate to do something great, that will make people open their eyes and see a problem they have bypassed for so long. Throughout the essay, Chapman does include himself within the problem, but never says whether or not he is a felon or a guard.
Once you’ve read the essay, you will notice the picture, and underneath it will state,” Troy Chapman is incarcerated [… convicted of second-degree murder in 1985″ (Chapman). Completely mind blown that the well-written essay you just read happened to be by a convicted murderer, over an issue of the caring he witnessed through a cat is hard to put together. While people tend to use their ethos as a way of attracting others, Chapman knew what was thought about inmates and used his knowledge to make something of his essay. “Caring Makes Us Human” is a perfect essay for 1301 students when they need motivation on aspects of writing a good paper.
An approachable beginning is everything; nobody will read the rest of your essay if the beginning is not good itself. Why take the risk of continuing to read an awful essay? Relating to people through common problems or questions that may be asked keeps reader engaged because they feel as if they are actually incorporated within your essay. Remember, everyone wants to be involved. Finally, provide information that will lead to your reader to changing their perspective on the subject. If you have provided enough resources to change your reader’s opinion, than you have done your job well as a writer.