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Rhetorical Analysis: “The Pack Rat among Us” Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Nov 19th, 2019

Summary of the Article

The article under consideration entitled “The Pack Rat among Us” is written by Laurie Schutza. Schutza dwells upon a very disputable issue, i.e. hoarding. The article starts with a description of an average hoarded house. The author does not only depict the house, but reveals her ideas and emotions when she is inside the house (305). Schutza then tries to understand why people become the so-called ‘pack rats’.

The author assumes that things help people to cope with such problems as loneliness, fear, etc. The author argues that people are often attached to things as they do not have close relations with people. The author also claims that hoarding is a very extreme case, but she also notes that almost all people have certain traits assigned to pack rats. The author mentions people’s desire to use things as a kind of material memories.

The author then tries to define the origins of people’s desire to hoard. Schutza notes that the origins of this trait can go back to pre-historic times when people had to accumulate things to survive as their future was really insecure (305). However, the author also claims that the instinct has become a kind of pathology as people now live in the world of ‘wants’ and not in the world of ‘needs’ (Schutza 306). The author states that people living in the throwaway world are simply driven to accumulate items which they do not even need.

For instance, the author mentions such ‘drivers’ as shops, e-commerce, and even garage sales which make people become compulsive buyers and eventually hoarders. Thus, Schutza warns the reader that each individual can turn into a hoarder so it is necessary to remain reasonable. The author concludes that people are “just a few steps away from the inhabitants of the house on the hill” where the house is a metaphor which stands for hoarding (309).

Intended Audience and Purpose for the Essay

The intended audience the author addresses is, in fact, each individual living in the throwaway society. The author asks: “how far removed are we, the consumers, from this tendency to collect and save?” (Schutza 306). However, it is possible to note that the author addresses Americans in particular: “America has become a nation of mass consumers” (Schutza 306). The author addresses the consumers with one major purpose.

She wants to prevent people from turning into the pack rats. The author concludes that “a little “pack rat” resides in all of us” (Schutza 309). It is possible to assume that the entire article is a depiction of threats which can haunt big pack rats. So, the article is a warning to the consumers who are reasonable enough to remain humble pack rats.

Schutza’s Support Strategies

The author uses three support strategies: examples, evidence and appeals. The author begins her article with a colorful example. She depicts a hoarded house, which is one of her personal experiences as she states:” [i]t is also the home of people I love” (Schutza 304). It is necessary to add that there are other instances of the use of this support strategy. Apart from the author’s personal experience, she uses other examples.

For instance, the author provides particular examples of the way to accumulate (or rather acquire) things. Thus, the author mentions “Sam’s Club and Costco,” “[g]arage sales, resale shops, flea markets, and antique malls,” and “Antiques Roadshow” (Schutza 307). It is necessary to point out that these examples make the article more intimate. In fact, people tend to believe particular examples from real life rather than rely on vague assumptions.

However, apart from examples, the author uses another support strategy, i.e. Schutza provides evidence. For instance, the author does not simply reveal specific examples from real life settings. She also makes her article plausible and reliable with the help of specific data. Notably, each of her claims is supported by another study or work.

For instance, Schutza refers to several academic works revealing meaningful data: “more than 1.4 million homes in the United States alone are … hoard homes” (qtd. in Schutza 305). Therefore, the author supports her claims referring to other reliable sources. It is important to add that these references make it clear that the issue discussed is really important as it is being discussed and analyzed.

Finally, the author also resorts to the use of appeals. She puts rhetoric questions: “aren’t we attached to our possessions to a certain extent?” (Schutza 309). The author also puts very important questions to be answered by every individual: “Do we really need everything we buy and save?” (Schutza 306).

These questions make people more involved. The reader does not simply reads an interesting article. The reader inevitably tries to answer the questions put by the author. Admittedly, this technique helps the author to reach the major aim of writing: people are made to think over important issues. Of course, it is also necessary to add that the combination of the three support strategies makes the article so appealing, plausible and involving.

Works Cited

Schutza, Laurie. “The Pack Rat among Us.” Inventing Arguments. Ed. John Mauk and John Metz. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. 304-309. Print.

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