Explanatory Synthesis


Different authors apply different styles to refer to their readers. One of these styles is the language use which is usually done to appeal more to the reader. Writers must always decide what they want to say in their writings before starting to write. They also need to come up with a way of writing it such that it can easily get understood and accepted by their audience. The decision on the language to use depends on the type of audience one intends to appeal to. It also depends on the message that one wants to put across. Their writings are also inspired mainly by the experiences they undergo either as children or during their lives. It is their pieces of books that help them reveal their identity to the world.  Therefore experiences, language, and personality play a crucial role in influencing writers to write their stories. This article focuses mainly on three pieces of writings which include:

“Learning to Read and Write,” by Frederick Douglass,

“My Two Lives,” by Jhumpa Lahiri,

“How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” by Gloria Anzaldúa.

This article focuses mainly on how these three writers were able to apply the use of language, their personal experiences, and identity to be able to come up with their content.

The first book is the “Learning to Read and Write,” by Frederick Douglass. This book focuses mainly on Frederick Douglas’ childhood and the experiences he underwent trying to learn how to read and write (58). Just by its title, it is clear what the writer intends to talk about in this book. The book by Frederick Douglass is an autobiography. It, therefore, shows his identity and his life experiences. Douglass talks about the lessons he went through under his master and the mistress of the house he used to live. His skills are one of sadness and sympathy at the lengths he had to go to be able to learn. It is clear that his African American identity led to him having to undergo such inhumane experiences.

Frederick captures the audience by making them falls in love with his courage and confidence in the face of adversity. His desire to learn to read and write the English language is admirable at the very least (58). He knew he was destined for better things and so learning would significantly increase his prospects. He starts by telling the readers how the mistress of the house was good to him helping him learn how to read and write. However, things soon take a turn as the master warns the mistress against assisting Frederick to learn to read and write. After that, Frederick’s life turns to a disaster as he experiences inhumane and unfair treatment from the mistress (59). As Frederick explains in the book, the mistress was more violent to him more than the husband who had instigated the hatred in the first place. It forces Frederick to try out a new way to learn. That is when he decides to trick his neighborhood kid to help him learn how to read and write. Before long he acquires a book “The Columbian Orator” which he uses after that to help him learn. His identity and experiences greatly influence Frederick Douglass’ life that he had to undergo as a child (60). He uses his writing platform to highlight these experiences believing it was not just him who faced such adversities, but several more people of his life did.

In the second book, My Two Lives,” by Jhumpa Lahiri, the story is about Jhumpa Lahiri’s experiences growing up in America. In this story, the author also talks about the experiences they underwent in their lives just like Frederick Douglass’ story. Jhumpa Lahiri’s experiences are one that makes the reader sympathize with her situation as she had to adapt to the American culture which was not her culture of origin (62). Her culture of origin is India where she was born. However, she undergoes an experience of shame due to her learning which was different from the American culture. She had to lead something like a double life having to act differently in public while embracing her Indian roots once at home. For example, she found it hard to eat with her hands in public while the practice was regular once she reached her home (63). The audience can easily see how Jhumpa had to suffer to have a sense of belonging in everything she did.

When she had to get married back in her home country Calcutta, she invites her American friends to celebrate with her. However, deep down she was concerned at how her American friends would judge her culture which she thought was backward. She imagines how these people may isolate her once they come back to America (64). However, she becomes shocked when the reaction of her friends is different. Her friends were more intrigued and fascinated by her culture. They became more appreciative of the uniqueness of her religion than she was. Jhumpa tries to incorporate the audience into her story as she tackles a story that captures many people, especially in America. She can convince the audience to feel empathy for her by putting them in her situation.

The third story is “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” by Gloria Anzaldúa. This third story is also about the life experiences of the author Gloria Anzaldúa. Just as the title suggests, Gloria uses this book to focus more on her tongue. The story begins with her at the dentist’s office for a checkup. However, the story soon reveals that it was not her teeth that is the main topic but her tongue (65). The tongue in this context is used to refer to her language which is her main focus in the book. She uses her experiences to show the reader how they were able to shape her identity as an individual. She also suggests how these experiences were able to shape her life. Gloria writes of her childhood experiences including an incident she underwent in school. She recalls being punished for trying to help her teacher spell her name. As a Chicano student in America, she had to undergo a lot of sad experiences some who stuck with her to her adulthood. The “How to tame a wild Tongue” talks about how language significantly affected her (66). Being of a different culture, she had to struggle with identity as well as the expression which were a significant barrier for her. Reading this book, one is bound to feel sorry for her struggles especially based on the fact that she lived in a society where Chicano’s were looked down upon (67). However, she reveals how proud she was with her origin even in the midst of all the unpleasant experiences. She uses this book to express herself trying to persuade the readers to adopt different angles of looking at Mexican Americans.


Looking at these three readings, it is clear how each of them applies identity, experiences, and language to express them. Frederick Douglass tries to explain to the audience how difficult it was for him to learn how to read and write based on the fact that he was black. In his book, he shows the reader the difficulties black Americans faced in the quest to learn. He believes his identity played a role in making him undergo these challenges. However, he adopts some unconventional methods to help him learn. Although he was successful, this piece makes the reader sympathize with most other African Americans who did not have similar opportunities like him. He quickly convinces the reader to put themselves in his shoes and therefore helps them understand him more. His story is not different from that of Jhumpa Lahiri. Jhumpa too faced difficulties due to her identity. Her Indian accent also made her feel inferior especially near her American friends. She is more concerned with how her American friends view her culture. However, she gets a sigh of relief when their reaction is that of intrigue and fascination. Gloria Anzaldúa’s experiences are not so different. Language and identity largely influence her writing of the book. Her Spanish background led to her facing ridicule and bias treatment from English speaking Americans. Her unique accent was also there to make her feel inferior to others. She is torn between identifying herself as a Chicano or as an America. However, she uses this piece to try and encourage the audience to have some sympathy for the Mexican Americans like her.




Work Cited

“How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” by Gloria Anzaldúa, on page 65

“Learning to Read and Write,” by Frederick Douglass, on page 57

“My Two Lives,” by Jhumpa Lahiri, on page 62

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