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A Comparison of Argument Features in Kinkaid and Shaw Texts

The ability to construct the most nuanced and robust arguments is a highly valuable skill for everyone, especially writers. Writers need to possess various skills such as observing readability principles, editing, research skills, discipline, adaptability, assertiveness, and the ability to understand what they want to talk about. Still, persuading and making valid and robust arguments remains one of the most unbeatable skill sets that any writer needs to possess. Persuasion and argument are, in most cases, quadrate. One uses both internally and externally to make well-informed decisions and when talking with other people seeking to convince them about a given idea (Hall 300). Making arguments is about debatable subjects and not those issues that are factual. This means that it may be inappropriate for a writer or author to develop an argument on factual issues such as the number of hours in a day. Some issues that may require persuasive solid skills and arguments are deciding on the best economic policy based on the existing conditions. If a person fails to have the right set of skills, it may be impossible for them to convince others and attract their following. This essay focuses on evaluating which author raised a more reasonable and fairer argument between Shaw in A Tale of Two Stories and Kincaid in Alien Soil. Based on the elements of style, logic, order of argument, time for opposition, reasonableness, and audience, A Tale of Two Stories by Richard Shaw is more persuasive since it is filled with particularly robust arguments than Alien Soil and Jamaica Kincaid.

Understanding one’s audience is a prerequisite to communicating effectively and conveying the desired message. Although the author cannot get feedback instantaneously about their argument, they need to adopt a persona that resonates well with the audience. This means that the author should choose the right voice, tone, attitude, and other aspects that the target audience will understand. Shaw manages to capture the attention of its audience and pass the right message. He seems to be more careful from the start about attracting the audience’s attention and moving with them throughout the narration. He starts the narration by vividly describing his story in Aotearoa, New Zealand. He starts by talking about his grandfather and how he found himself in Aotearoa (Shaw 1). The tone is informal, respectively, and optimistic. On the other hand, Kincaid seems not concerned about the audience and starts off the writing offensively. For instance, he begins by faulting the English landscape, giving it a bad image, and noting that it is the worst (Kincaid 210). Although the audience would still want to understand why the author raises such an argument, there are chances that some faint-hearted readers may consider quitting for fear of being offended.

Still, from the aspect of the audience, the argument that the author develops must remain considerate of both supporting and opposition factions. Even though an author primarily targets a given group, understanding that all persons addressed form part of the audience is paramount (Hall 305). Importantly, it is good to notice that being a good persuader is about not influencing those that support your view but being able to convince those in the opposing faction about what one believes. Consequently, there is a need for the author to conduct extensive research about their audience to gain insights into the points of view of the opposition faction. With an excellent knowledge of varied perspectives, it becomes easier for the author to develop strong arguments persuading their audience to follow a given line of thinking. Shaw appears to put this idea more strongly between the two authors, where he highlights both the positives and negatives of an issue. For example, when talking about critical family history (CFH), he states that “the CFH scholarship appeals for several reasons “(Shaw 2). After explaining the various reasons why the CFH scholarship is appealing, he ends the argument by considering other points of view, including highlighting the weakness of the approach. In particular, the author notes that the method has the weakness of tending to drag colonization into the family discussions (Shaw 2). Similarly, Kincaid follows the same approach in developing and building on arguments. For instance, he starts an argument by quoting William Warren’s book, Tropical Garden, which presents views that are against his. He justifies his stand and why the alternative perspective is not okay (Kincaid 215). Thus, the two authors exemplify the robustness of building arguments by considering multiple and opposing perspectives.

Shaw develops more reasonable arguments than Kincaid. The capacity of an author to differentiate between an opinion and fact is instrumental in developing reasonable arguments (Hall 302). Compared to Shaw, who vividly presents facts and opinions, Kincaid makes several mistakes in presenting the two aspects, making his argument weak. Kincaid utilizes the comic effect to express his dissatisfaction with the American and English landscapes as a fact, but this ostensibly backfires. Kincaid’s tone and persona also do not augur well with the audience. There are several occasions when the author appears to have a negative attitude towards the Antiguans by stating that they are cruel (Kincaid 210). Also, the author’s use of language and the opinions he raises are insensitive, contributing to weaker arguments and a lack of persuasiveness. On the contrary, Shaw quickly successfully makes strong arguments due to his expertise in differentiating between facts and his opinions. When it is an opinion, Shaw presents it in a manner that alerts the audience. For example, when talking about his grandfather’s decision to settle in the new land, he lets the audience know that the use of the word “settlement” and not “colonization” was not a matter of facts but rather his opinion: “… I comfortably resort to the vocabulary of “settlement” rather than that of ‘colonization” (Shaw 7). Based on this evidence, it can be seen clearly that Shaw develops stronger arguments than Kincaid due to his prowess in understanding the need to differentiate between facts and opinions and how to use them.

Similar to setting apart fact and opinion, a good argument should be clear about logic and emotions. Emotions can prompt an argument, but they are not always the best way to successful persuasion (Hall 308). The ability of Shaw to present logic and emotions distinctively makes his argument stronger than those that Kincaid raises. The audience will likely be more receptive to rational and logical arguments than those based on emotions. Also, it is evident that Kincaid, in his approach, fails to observe this rule and goes ahead to make emotional and unnecessary arguments throughout the essay. For instance, in describing the Antiguans, he notes, “Ordinary Antiguans (and by “ordinary Antiguans” I mean the Antiguan people, who descended from the African Slaves brought to this island by Europeans …” (Kincaid 211). Kincaid’s tone and attitude towards the Antiguans seem to be influenced mainly by his emotions. On the contrary, Shaw displays excellent levels of developing a logical argument and can differentiate between what is logical and emotional, which makes him persuasive and appealing to his audience. Shaw successfully winds his viewpoint with other perspectives or arguments others have raised.

Shaw’s A Tale of Two Stories raises solid arguments and is more persuasive than Alien Soil by Kincaid. The conclusion that A Tale of Two Stories is more persuasive that Alien Soil is based on an evaluation of argument development in terms of understanding and meeting the needs of the audience, considering multiple and alternative perspectives, the reasonableness of arguments (ability to differentiate between facts and opinions), as well as capacity to differentiate between what is logical or based on emotions. Shaw becomes appealing to the audience since he understands them and is sensitive to their needs. Shaw uses other strategies to raise solid arguments and remain persuasive: he separates factual information from his opinions, takes time to consider diverse and alternative points of view, and strives to avoid arguing based on emotions but instead chooses to remain logical. A significant similarity between the works of the two authors is that they were both able to consider quotes from other authors and discuss alternative points of view on a given issue. Nevertheless, Kincaid fails to raise strong arguments and remains persuasive for various reasons. In the introduction, he fails to be attentive to the audience, starting the essay with a rumble and remaining insensitive. His attempts to apply comics also fail, making his argument even weaker and lacking the persuasiveness to make him remain connected to the audience. Kincaid also fails to separate logic from emotions, making the “Alien Soil” the least fair and unreasonable case compared to Shaw’s “A Tale of Two Stories.”

Works Cited

Kincaid, Jamaica. “Alien Soil.” The New Yorker 21 (1993): 47-51.

Shaw, Richard. “A Tale of Two Stories: Unsettling a settler family’s history in Aotearoa, New Zealand.” Genealogy 5.1 2021: 26.


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