Educated A Memoir Sparknotes

  

This is a sample rhetorical analysis written for an AP English Language and Composition class. In a rhetorical analysis, one is given a passage to analyze, specifically looking at the techniques the author uses to develop his/her argument.

“Educated” by Tara Westover is a memoir that describes the struggle of a young girl who escapes from violence and an emotional prison. It is a conflicting story of fierce family loyalty as well as that of the intense sorrow that arises from the division of one’s closest ties. By its nature, a memoir is a representation of the author’s impressions and memories of his or her past. As a memoir, Educated is written in the first person perspective, which means its told from Westover’s point of view. Consequently, the reader absorbs Westover’s memories and experiences as she describes them as an adult in the present. Educated: Study Guide SparkNotes Educated is Tara Westover’s gripping memoir about her unconventional upbringing and her journey toward education and independence. Explore a character analysis of Tara, plot summary, and important quotes.

I obtained a mark of 6/6 on this essay, and my teacher left the following comment:

“Veronica, This is a RA to be proud of. You articulate your insights persuasively, in a manner that would hold its own in any post-secondary class.”

Passage:

Source: Educated, by Tara Westover, pg. 113

I was fifteen and I felt it, felt the race I was running with time. My body was changing, bloating, swelling, stretching, bulging. I wished it would stop, but it seemed my body was no longer mine. It belonged to itself now, and cared not at all how I felt about these strange alterations, about whether I wanted to stop being a child, and become something else.

That something else thrilled and frightened me. I’d always known that I would grow differently than my brothers, but I’d never thought about what that might mean. Now it was all I thought about. I began to look for cues to understand this difference, and once I started looking, I found them everywhere.

One Sunday afternoon, I helped Mother prepare a roast for dinner. Dad was kicking off his shoes, and loosening his tie. He’d been talking since we left the church.
“That hemline was three inches about Lori’s knee,” Dad said. “What’s a woman thinking when she puts on a dress like that?” Mother nodded absent while chopping a carrot. She was used to this particular lecture.

What Happened After Educated Memoir

“And Jeanette Barney,” Dad said. “If a woman wears a blouse that low-cut, she ought not to bend over.” Mother agreed. I pictured the turquoise blouse Janette had worn that day. The neckline was only an inch below her collarbones, but it was loose fitting, and I imagined that if she bent it would give a full view. As I thought this I felt anxious, because although a tighter blouse would have made Jeanette’s bending more modest, the tightness itself would have been less modest. Righteous women do not wear tight clothing. Other women do that.

Educated A Memoir Sparknotes
Analysis:

In her memoir Educated, author Tara Westover describes her childhood in a family with extreme Mormon beliefs and how its clash with her experience with formal education in university allowed her to see herself and the society around her in a different light. In the given passage, Westover looks at a specific example of her family’s Mormonism: the expected behaviour of women. Through the connotations of her specific word choice, use of past tense, and conversational tone, Westover demonstrates that she has gained the mental distance to recognize that her father’s claims are unfounded.

In the first paragraph, Westover describes how her body changes through puberty, asserting that it was “changing, bloating, swelling, stretching, bulging” (Westover 2). Westover expresses her body’s change with various words with slightly different meanings, which allows her audience to paint a more vivid picture in their heads. However, the words Westover chooses to use, such as “bloating,” “swelling,” and “bulging,” contain negative connotations; these words are often associated with deformities. Through her specific word choice, Westover reinforces that these body changes are unwelcome. Moreover, by omitting conjunctions and using asyndeton, Westover creates a quicker pace within this phrase. This change of pace can reflect how quickly Westover’s own body was changing, a sentiment that was further expressed in this paragraph. In doing so, Westover allows the audience to more clearly view Westover’s past experiences through her eyes. By creating sympathy, her audience is thus more likely to trust Westover’s perspective and consider her main argument throughout the remainder of the passage: that she is able to now recognize the unreasonable expectations of her childhood.

Westover accomplishes this through her use of past tense. For instance, she says that “I wished it would stop, but it seemed that my body was no longer mine” (Westover 2). The audience is aware that Westover is now an adult, and that Educated in a memoir; thus, the separation she presents as a narrator and as a character in this story demonstrates that she was able move on from her past perspective. Through her use of tense, Westover shows that she says, does, and thinks are in the past, and do not necessarily apply to her present self; she has been able to move on. As the beliefs of her childhood are likely not held by her audience, showing that she no longer holds those beliefs is important in gaining her audience’s trust. Westover also does so by presenting a contradiction in the logic of her father. A woman wearing a loose-fitting blouse would be considered immodest as she bends out, but a tighter blouse in and of itself would be immodest as well. By pointing out this contradiction, Westover also shows how, in the culture of her childhood, there is no way for one to satisfy every tenet of this specific variation of Mormonism; to be “perfect” in the eyes of her father would be nearly impossible. By recognizing this contradiction, Westover shows that she is aware of the fallacies in her father’s line of thinking, and thus that she now has the ability to think for herself, despite her upbringing — an idea that is reflected through her use of tense.

Throughout the passage, Westover maintains a conservational, albeit serious, tone. Her audience is likely a general one, rather than limited to a specific niche. Thus, Westover’s colloquial tone allows Westover to better connect with her audience. For instance, Tara states that her body “cared not at all how I felt about these strange alterations, about whether I wanted to stop being a child, and become something else.” This sentence resembles a run-on sentence; however, in doing so, Tara writes as if she is speaking aloud, allowing her to be closer to her audience. While Westover’s experience is unique, the sentiments she expresses are ones that are shared by many. For instance, many people feel uncomfortable with changes to their bodies during puberty, or are frustrated by the seemingly unreasonable logic of their parents. While her audience’s experience may not be to the same degree as Westover, by maintaining a conversational tone, Westover creates an atmosphere of openness; her writing feels as if she is confiding in a close friend. Through this particular technique, Westover allows her audience in and builds their trust. Thus, her audience is more likely to believe in Westover’s narratives and the lessons drawn from her story.

In this passage from her memoir Educated, Westover expresses the contradictions in her father’s Mormon beliefs. Through her word choice, use of tense and conservational tone, Westover effectively develops a relationship with her audience that allows her to demonstrate that she now is able to recognize the fallacious reasoning behind her father’s beliefs about the modesty of women. In doing so, Westover shows that she has been able to see past the Mormon dogma of her childhood, allowing her a broader perspective.

This is a sample rhetorical analysis written for an AP English Language and Composition class. In a rhetorical analysis, one is given a passage to analyze, specifically looking at the techniques the author uses to develop his/her argument.

I obtained a mark of 6/6 on this essay, and my teacher left the following comment:

Educated A Memoir By Tara Westover Sparknotes

“Veronica, This is a RA to be proud of. You articulate your insights persuasively, in a manner that would hold its own in any post-secondary class.”

Passage:

Source: Educated, by Tara Westover, pg. 113

Sparknotes

I was fifteen and I felt it, felt the race I was running with time. My body was changing, bloating, swelling, stretching, bulging. I wished it would stop, but it seemed my body was no longer mine. It belonged to itself now, and cared not at all how I felt about these strange alterations, about whether I wanted to stop being a child, and become something else.

That something else thrilled and frightened me. I’d always known that I would grow differently than my brothers, but I’d never thought about what that might mean. Now it was all I thought about. I began to look for cues to understand this difference, and once I started looking, I found them everywhere.

One Sunday afternoon, I helped Mother prepare a roast for dinner. Dad was kicking off his shoes, and loosening his tie. He’d been talking since we left the church.
“That hemline was three inches about Lori’s knee,” Dad said. “What’s a woman thinking when she puts on a dress like that?” Mother nodded absent while chopping a carrot. She was used to this particular lecture.

“And Jeanette Barney,” Dad said. “If a woman wears a blouse that low-cut, she ought not to bend over.” Mother agreed. I pictured the turquoise blouse Janette had worn that day. The neckline was only an inch below her collarbones, but it was loose fitting, and I imagined that if she bent it would give a full view. As I thought this I felt anxious, because although a tighter blouse would have made Jeanette’s bending more modest, the tightness itself would have been less modest. Righteous women do not wear tight clothing. Other women do that.

Analysis:

In her memoir Educated, author Tara Westover describes her childhood in a family with extreme Mormon beliefs and how its clash with her experience with formal education in university allowed her to see herself and the society around her in a different light. In the given passage, Westover looks at a specific example of her family’s Mormonism: the expected behaviour of women. Through the connotations of her specific word choice, use of past tense, and conversational tone, Westover demonstrates that she has gained the mental distance to recognize that her father’s claims are unfounded.

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In the first paragraph, Westover describes how her body changes through puberty, asserting that it was “changing, bloating, swelling, stretching, bulging” (Westover 2). Westover expresses her body’s change with various words with slightly different meanings, which allows her audience to paint a more vivid picture in their heads. However, the words Westover chooses to use, such as “bloating,” “swelling,” and “bulging,” contain negative connotations; these words are often associated with deformities. Through her specific word choice, Westover reinforces that these body changes are unwelcome. Moreover, by omitting conjunctions and using asyndeton, Westover creates a quicker pace within this phrase. This change of pace can reflect how quickly Westover’s own body was changing, a sentiment that was further expressed in this paragraph. In doing so, Westover allows the audience to more clearly view Westover’s past experiences through her eyes. By creating sympathy, her audience is thus more likely to trust Westover’s perspective and consider her main argument throughout the remainder of the passage: that she is able to now recognize the unreasonable expectations of her childhood.

Educated A Memoir Sparknotes Summary

Westover accomplishes this through her use of past tense. For instance, she says that “I wished it would stop, but it seemed that my body was no longer mine” (Westover 2). The audience is aware that Westover is now an adult, and that Educated in a memoir; thus, the separation she presents as a narrator and as a character in this story demonstrates that she was able move on from her past perspective. Through her use of tense, Westover shows that she says, does, and thinks are in the past, and do not necessarily apply to her present self; she has been able to move on. As the beliefs of her childhood are likely not held by her audience, showing that she no longer holds those beliefs is important in gaining her audience’s trust. Westover also does so by presenting a contradiction in the logic of her father. A woman wearing a loose-fitting blouse would be considered immodest as she bends out, but a tighter blouse in and of itself would be immodest as well. By pointing out this contradiction, Westover also shows how, in the culture of her childhood, there is no way for one to satisfy every tenet of this specific variation of Mormonism; to be “perfect” in the eyes of her father would be nearly impossible. By recognizing this contradiction, Westover shows that she is aware of the fallacies in her father’s line of thinking, and thus that she now has the ability to think for herself, despite her upbringing — an idea that is reflected through her use of tense.

Educated Summaries

Throughout the passage, Westover maintains a conservational, albeit serious, tone. Her audience is likely a general one, rather than limited to a specific niche. Thus, Westover’s colloquial tone allows Westover to better connect with her audience. For instance, Tara states that her body “cared not at all how I felt about these strange alterations, about whether I wanted to stop being a child, and become something else.” This sentence resembles a run-on sentence; however, in doing so, Tara writes as if she is speaking aloud, allowing her to be closer to her audience. While Westover’s experience is unique, the sentiments she expresses are ones that are shared by many. For instance, many people feel uncomfortable with changes to their bodies during puberty, or are frustrated by the seemingly unreasonable logic of their parents. While her audience’s experience may not be to the same degree as Westover, by maintaining a conversational tone, Westover creates an atmosphere of openness; her writing feels as if she is confiding in a close friend. Through this particular technique, Westover allows her audience in and builds their trust. Thus, her audience is more likely to believe in Westover’s narratives and the lessons drawn from her story.

In this passage from her memoir Educated, Westover expresses the contradictions in her father’s Mormon beliefs. Through her word choice, use of tense and conservational tone, Westover effectively develops a relationship with her audience that allows her to demonstrate that she now is able to recognize the fallacious reasoning behind her father’s beliefs about the modesty of women. In doing so, Westover shows that she has been able to see past the Mormon dogma of her childhood, allowing her a broader perspective.