In 1914, World War I began and was commonly referred to around the world as “The War To End All Wars” and “The Great War”. As volunteers for the war ran out, the government had to go into a draft. As names were getting pulled, the soon to be soldiers were being pulled out as just a number, not even a name. Following the conclusion of World War I was the emergence of The Great Depression. “Millions of people were out of work, and there was an alarming concern for the elderly and retired Americans who had lost everything. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the original Social Security Act into law. At that time, the US was just beginning to recover from the Great Depression and the program was intended to be -and essentially still is today – a social insurance program. It is a government-run program providing economic security to our citizens” (“Social”). In E.B. White’s “About Myself”, it can be seen how White viewed numbers as dehumanizing.
Today, our numbers seem as secretive as our fingerprints. We buy shredders to obliterate any papers with the very numbers White puts out for all to see: “My social security number is 067-01-9841. I am married to US Woman Number 067-01-9807.” In “About Myself” E.B. White satirizes the American government in order to persuade American citizens to stop describing people using numbers because it is dehumanizing. E.B. White uses emphasis to satirize the American government in order to persuade American citizens to stop describing people with numbers. For example, White talks about how he and his father were both of “medium height”. This strategy appeals to American citizens because it makes them think about how the one time it would have been appropriate to use numbers as a descriptive term, he decides to use an adjective. By using an adjective versus using a number is shows how he would then become indistinguishable amongst most Americans.
One of the first things Americans use to describe someone is based on their height, whether they are short or tall, so by not using a number and referring to his height as medium height, it makes him indistinguishable to be spotted and picked out amongst most Americans. After reading this essay, American citizen will begin to use characteristics instead of using numbers to describe people. E.B. White uses a sarcastic tone to mock the American government in order to persuade American citizens to stop describing people with numbers. For example, “Neither parent had a social security number and neither was socially secure.” The strategy of sarcasm appeals to American citizens because it makes the American citizens think about how they do not need number to feel socially secure.
By showing how Americans citizens do not need social security to be secure, it shows how when people socially interact with each other, they do not need or use to numbers to be able to socially talk with society so it would not seem necessary to use numbers in order to be able to describe someone. After reading this, American citizens will begin to use characteristics instead of numbers so they are not dehumanizing. E.B. White uses the hyperbole of numbers to satirize the American government in order to persuade American citizens to stop describing people with numbers. For example, for almost everything he uses to describe himself or others he uses a number to emphasize how people are describing with the use of numbers versus the use of their characteristics.
The strategy of hyperbole will appeal to American citizens because it will make them think about how they describe people, whether its based on numbers or characteristics. By thinking about how they are describing people, it will make them think about how it is dehumanizing to describe people as if they were just a number or object and not a human being. After reading this essay, American citizens will stop using numbers to describe people and will begin to use characteristics.
In “About Myself” E.B. White satirizes the American government in order to persuade American citizens to stop describing people using numbers because it is dehumanizing. Throughout his entire essay, White constantly describes everything about himself with a number whether it was a person or an object. As a result, after American citizens read this essay, they will stop referring to and using numbers as a way to describe a person, and in turn they will use characteristics because that it less dehumanizing.
“Social Security: Why It Was Created & How It Works.” Lawyers.com. 1 Jan.
2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2014. .
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