How non-fiction text utilizes literary themes 2018


Using  the creative non-fiction essay we read in this unit, write an essay that demonstrates how and why that particular non-fiction text utilizes one or two of the literary themes discussed in Unit 2. What is the author saying about it? Why do you think he or she is saying it in this way? What surprises us about the text’s depiction of the theme? Also, address how and why the fact that the text is non-fiction influences its impact relating to the theme.

Literary Themes:

    • Love (Platonic, Romantic, or Filial)
    • Alienation/Otherness
    • The American Dream/Nightmare
    • The Quest for Identity/Coming of Age
    • Conformity/Rebellion

In addition to discussing at least one of these themes, feel free to also explore other noticed literary themes that are not included in Unit 2. Be sure to use specific examples, details, and quotes from the text (use the author’s name in parenthetical citation).

Essays to Choose From:

    • Gretel Ehrlich’s “About Men”

Read Ehrlich’s “About Men” (1984) – http://www.foothillfalcons.org/ourpages/auto/2011/3/8/47790757/About_Men.pdf.

In order to start brainstorming for this essay, please see the following examples:

    • Ehrlich and Conformity: The premise for Ehrlich’s “About Men” is that a real, successful cowboy is a careful balance between what we typically consider masculine, a silent observer, and feminine, a compassionate nurturer. How does the cowboy embody the theme of conformity and rebellion in Ehrlich’s “About Men”?

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism in any form is unacceptable. Please ask if you have questions about what constitutes plagiarism. Your words and your ideas must be your own.

Formatting and Style

Be sure to maintain an appropriate academic tone (no slang, second-person [“you,” “we”], contractions, etc.)

Your essay should be typed, double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font, with one-inch margins, and numbered pages. Include your name, my name, the title of the class, and the date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. Center your title (you do not need to underline or italicize it) and place it above the body of the essay. Do not include a title page.


Conformity and Rebellion in Gretel Ehrlich’s “About Men”

The society’s mindset concerning certain issues or individuals may at times be flawed, and this undoubtedly leads to the emergence of unreasonable stereotypes. Gretel Ehrlich in her short narrative “About Men” expertly depicts the real image of the cowboy and faults the society’s unrealistic perceptions of the typical cowboy. The author mainly enlightens the readers on the theme of conformity and rebellion and through this, we find that there is usually more than meets the eye, and sometimes one should explore deeper and be more realistic when dealing with an individual’s true character.

The author begins her narrative by revealing the standards that people have set for the typical cowboy through the Marlboro advert along the New York subway (Ehrlich 82). The cowboy is expected to conform to the image of being tough and silent. However, she states that in reality, cowboys are actually soft-hearted individuals with emotions which they constantly try to unleash through acts of tenderness and care to the animals that they watch over (Ehrlich 82). The typical cowboy, therefore, does not conform to these romanticized societal standards.

The author’s tone throughout the narrative reveals that she is discontented with how the society depicts the typical cowboy. The way she compares the society’s perceptions and the true way of life of the cowboy evokes empathy from the readers. The story shows that in reality, the cowboy is tough because of the hardships he goes through while taking care of his animals in the ranch (Ehrlich 83). The hardships give him certain qualities that the society fails to acknowledge such as perseverance, patience, tenderness, and love. A lot of the cowboy’s emotions are also constantly overlooked as a result of constantly depicting fierceness and a domineering spirit in him.

The narrative’s depiction of conformity and rebellion is very insightful and evokes a lot of empathy from the readers. It portrays the cowboy as a victim of the society’s flawed premise. As opposed to being thought of as masculine and gruff, the cowboy is surprisingly shown to somewhat-possess maternal instincts (Ehrlich 83). He loves and cares for his animals and even risks his own life in order to save them from danger. This selfless spirit is however overlooked by so many people in the society. The narrative also reveals that the perceptions surrounding cowboys arise from the standards of masculinity and physical fitness of the male gender set by the society (Ehrlich 84).

The use of a non-fiction narrative helps to enforce the theme of conformity and rebellion. The fact that the narrator is sharing a personal experience and using comparison and contrast to showcase the theme;  gives the story more impact. Another theme that may have been brought out in the story is that of sexism. The story reveals the tension present between men and women in the West and the fact that both genders have always been indifferent to each other since time immemorial. It also reveals the gender roles that still persist in society in the West, whereby women take care of men and do all the house chores such as cooking and laundry (Ehrlich 84).

Gretel Ehrlich successfully depicts the theme of conformity and rebellion in this short narrative and portrays the cowboy as a compassionate and soft-hearted individual, contrary to the society’s expectations of a strong and fierce man. She expertly narrates the non-fiction story from her own viewpoint and gives the readers a detailed insight into the real world of the cowboy.

Work Cited

Ehrlich, Gretel. The Solace of Open Spaces. New York: Viking Penguin Inc. 1985 print.