College America – Phoenix Hillbilly Elegy Paper

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Part 1

Why does writing need all three parts of the rhetorical triangle? Which did Aristotle find was most necessary?

Part 2

In Chapter 10, Vance talks about “learned helplessness,” a term from the field of psychology. He writes that it’s “when a person believes, as I did during my youth, that the choices I made had no effect on the outcomes in my life” (163). Simply put, it’s feeling like you have no control over your life. However, he also states that his time in the Marines taught him “learned willfulness” — that he had complete control if he wanted — and implies that this is part of why he’s been successful in life.

How did Vance learn willfulness in the Marines? See if you can come up with two examples from the chapter that taught him his choices do impact his life. Do you think learned helplessness is, partly or entirely, to blame for the problems of Appalachia that Vance describes? And if it is, what’s the best course of action to take? Should we encourage more people in this part of the country to join the military in the hopes that they will have a better life? Is serving in the military a reliable way to change people for the better, as it seems to have changed Vance? Or is there a better solution?

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