Many of us will never be homeless, and not everyone understands the benefit of having a wife, but after reading the essays’, Homeless (Quindlen, A. n. d. ) and I Want a Wife (Brady, J. 1971), one can gain a better understanding of both. I am a wife. Therefore, I can certainly connect with the narrator’s story of I Want a Wife. This is a narrative essay, in which the narrator reflects on why she too would like to have a wife after a visit with a recently divorced male friend, who is looking for a new wife.
The narrator gives a list of duties and activities she will and will not do if she had a wife, and she can visualize the benefits a wife could afford her with less responsibilities and more time for school or friends. My other essay of choice is quite different in theme, but it is still relatable. Anne Quindlen’s essay, Homeless (n. d. ) is a short descriptive essay with the narrator retelling of an account when she met a woman, who she believes is homeless, at the bus terminal. It is during the encounter that the narrator reflects on homeless people in general, the homeless individual and about herself.
Both of these essays’ are well written, however, I feel that Homeless (Quindlen, A. n. d. ), is a more appealing essay than I Want a Wife (Brady, J. 1971), as it allows the reader to become more engaged in the descriptions and reflect on the details of the story. Whenever I first start reading any type of literature, the first thing I notice is the writing style of the author and the point of view (POV) of the narrator. Key elements of the writing style for me are POV, tone, pace, and conciseness when possible. The point of view is important to the reader as it may not be theirs.
This should cause the reader to pay closer attention to details. How much credibility does the narrator offer. The tone of a story is set at the very beginning. The tone along with a good hook should grab the reader’s attention so they want to continue reading. For me, both essays Homeless and I Want a Wife captured my interest with the very first sentence. When the opening sentence of an essay starts with “I belong to that classification of people known as wives,” (I Want a Wife) that certainly can catch the attention of another wife. This opening drew me in because I wanted to know what she meant by this statement.
The tone is set; wives are in a class of their own, and the narrator has my attention. Now, she will tell us from her point of view why she wants a wife, too. Homeless, is similar in that it also grabs the reader just by introducing a character, location, and time of year in its brief opening sentence. However, I do think that this opening is more appealing than I Want a Wife. The details the narrator gives the reader create a clear mental image of the scene. In addition, the second sentence reveals just enough to keep the reader interested in what the narrator has to say, “I was doing a story on homeless people,” (Homeless, para 1).
Again, the tone is set; it is January at the bus terminal where the narrator, who is doing research on homeless people, meets such a person, Ann. It is also in the first sentence we know it is the narrator’s story as she describes her experience and conversation with Ann. With the narrator sharing her experience and conversation with the reader, she has invited them into her story making it more personal. Another similarity between these two essays is the author’s use of appropriate language for the material, the audience, and the year of publication.
I Want a Wife, written in 1971, was a period when the feminist movement was active. Women were looking for equality in the work place but also at home. The essay, published in the magazine Ms. , makes me believe the writer’s original target audience is that of other wives, future wives, and anyone else who reads Ms. Magazine. Her simple statements, or as I like to call it, her laundry list as to why it would be great if she had a wife, are easy to relate to as many of us perform these duties on a daily basis. In Homeless, the setting of the story, January at the bus terminal, leaves it to the reader’s imagination of the year.
The topic of the essay, homeless people, is timeless as it is has been an ongoing problem for decades. The language the narrator uses is simplistic yet descriptively concise. It still gives enough detail to help you feel connected to what the narrator is saying. You can feel her emotions through her words. I believe her target audience is everyone. As the narrator states, “[We] walk around it when it is lying on the sidewalk or sitting in the bus terminal—the problem, that is. ” She is playing upon the reader’s emotions by pointing out how many people ignore the problem even when we come face to face with it at times.
I feel this essay can transcend time because of the specific descriptive words the author uses to engage the reader. In addition, until homelessness becomes obsolete, this will be an issue society will continue to discuss. I do not believe the same can be said about I Want a Wife. Reading this essay now seems irrelevant in 2013, whereas in 1971, this was a reality for some wives. While I found both essays well written and share similar key elements in writing style and appropriate language, I found Homeless, to be a more appealing read.
The topic of the essay, homeless people, is a current issue we continue to face in society today, which makes it more relatable to the reader. It causes the reader to use their imagination, critical thinking skills, and reflect on a somewhat sensitive topic. I think the topic of I want a Wife, is appropriate for the period it was written, but it does not really apply to today’s families. The structure of the family has changed dramatically in the last forty years. No longer is it the norm for the wife to be the one to shoulder all of the family responsibility.
In more households than not, it is now a shared responsibility. Even though Judy Brady’s essay can cause the reader to reflect on how life was for wives during that era, it does not really fit our society today. Reading the essay now, it seems more of a farce than the feminist statement it was of 1971. Another appealing aspect of Homeless is the description and detail the narrator uses. She creates visual images with her words that capture and engage the reader. Some of the visual images that were memorable to me are the description of Ann, her photo, and the narrator’s own ferocity for the love of her own home. The narrator’s description of the grime that creases Ann’s bags and raincoat give you a clear picture of her appearance. The description of the yellow house in the photo, “with the aluminum siding and a chain-link fence, a narrow driveway running up to a one-car garage, and a patch of backyard,” (Homeless para 2) gives the reader a distinct image of the house. It is through these descriptions that I have a better understanding of both the characters and their perspective of homeless.
I Want a Wife, while well written and entertaining, it did not appeal to my emotional side like Homeless. I felt as though the narrator was giving us her laundry list and doing so without any emotion. She does not invite the reader into the story, as the structure is very chaotic and unorganized. In addition, she often repeats herself throughout the essay, which makes it difficult to get a clear picture of any one thought as she moves quickly from one idea to the next. Each essay shares similar key elements of writing style and appropriate language.
They both capture their targeted audience with creative introductions that pull the reader into the story. The authors’ use of simple statements and descriptions allow for easy reading and understanding of the topic, however I believe that Homeless was more successful in engaging the reader’s senses. Anna Quindlen used specific descriptions and details to bring the reader into her story. Her topic is one that everyone understands; as it is, still an issue society faces today. She appeals to our emotions and causes the reader to reflect on their own life and those affected by it.