Stone Soup by Barbara Kingsolver: Changes in the Definition of Family
Over time the definition of family has drastically changed. Over the years, things like divorce, separation, same-sex relationships and single parents have become much more common, and acceptable in today’s society. Despite the fact that these families have become more common, not everyone in society thinks these families are acceptable. In the article “Stone Soup” the author, Barbara Kingsolver writes about how families that might live by a different definition may face difficulties from parts of society that do not accept these differences. Kingsolver does an excellent job portraying why families who have experienced divorce are still good families, however, her argument for other non-traditional families is not nearly as strong.
In the article, the author makes a very strong point to explain that non-traditional families may be under attack, or labeled as a broken family by society. The author introduces the article with a scene from a kids soccer game, she makes it known, that the family cheering on the young boy playing soccer consists of his mother, and siblings as well as his father, stepmother, and step-siblings. After Kingsolver describes the young boys family situation she then states, “I dare anybody to call this a broken home” (Kingsolver 125). The reason the author used this statement is that, even though the young boy might have a different family situation, they are all still there loving, and supporting him.
In the first paragraph of the article, Kingsolver states, “His own cheering section of grown-ups and kids all leap to their feet and hug each other, delirious with love for this boy” (Kingsolver 125). This sentence is an excellent depiction of Pathos being used in this article. The author informs the reader of the young boys family situation and then goes on to explain how they all love and support him just as much despite him having a non-traditional family.
The sentence mentioned above evokes emotion in the reader by showing how much this family cares about the young boy, and using words such as “delirious with love”. The reason the author did this is due to the fact that it captures the reader’s attention and while portraying the message that a family does not have to be traditional for the family to be happy. Despite her use of facts and numbers, these claims would add more support to the argument if her claims were followed by a source or location that she received the facts.
Throughout the article, Kingsolver adds a few strong examples that appeal to the use of logos and further add more points towards her argument. The examples that she uses are “The number of children in the U.S. living in poverty at this moment is almost unfathomably large: twenty percent” (Kingsolver 128). This statistic further supports her argument that non-traditional families are not the issue when it comes to judging a family. The fact that she has numbers and percentages to back up her claims adds a fair amount of support to the idea that society should not be focused on the non-traditional families but maybe the families living in poverty. Kingsolver is trying to express to the reader that society is focusing on the wrong issues with families.
Later in the article, Kingsolver is trying to show the reader that even a non-traditional family is still better for a kid than no family at all by referencing what it was like for kids and family, around the time that slavery was abolished. She states “at the turn of the century came a steep rise in child labor in mines and sweatshops” (Kingsolver 129). The author uses a topic that is not directly related to the topic of the article and does a great job with making the audience think ethically about kids without parents, and kids with parents who might have created, or fallen into a non-traditional situation. This is a very good example of Ethos, as it helps get the message across to the reader while convincing them that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a family that lives by a different tradition than the rest of society.
At the end of the article, Kingsolver relates the entire argument back to the title of the article, “Stone Soup”. While reading the Kingsolver’s work it was unclear why she chose the title that she did up until the last page. The author directly related her article to a story known as “Stone Soup” and her reason for doing so is because the story is about a soldier that entered a village after war and made a soup with nothing but water and one stone, and the rest of the village decides to add to the soup to make it better. This relates to the article that Kingsolver wrote because she states, “any family is a big empty pot, save for what gets thrown in. Each stew turns out different” (Kingsolver 131). This supports her main idea that families do not have to be traditional for a family to work. By adding this to the end of her article, it adds one last powerful supporting claim for her topic.
After reading Kingsolver’s article, it is clear that she has good supporting evidence that there should be nothing wrong with having a non-traditional family, and society is wrong for “attacking” them. With the support of Pathos, Ethos, and Logos, her article is decently persuasive, in the sense that traditional families are no better than non-traditional families. She does a great job using the different rhetorical devices to capture the reader’s attention and persuade them to believe in her point.
However, her main focus was on families that have gone through a divorce, despite that at the beginning of her work she mentions other examples of a non-traditional family, such as separation, domestic partners, and same-sex relationships. With the author focusing more on just one example of a non-traditional family, it reduces the effectiveness of her argument for families that have same-sex partners, or domestic partners.
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