Jessica Hermauer – Writing Processes

1.  Purpose:  Why did Hemauer write this essay?  How might different audiences see different purposes? I think Hermauer wrote this essay to share her experience about working on her family’s farm, and how being brought up with chores and responsibilities made her successful in managing her time and and being involved in her student body.  Different audiences could relate to her age, social experiences and responsibilities.  For example, someone who’s familiar with the duties of farm life might find the purpose of the essay to be about how farm life teaches you the importance of responsibility.

2.  Audience:  Who do you see as Hemauer’s audience?  What can you point to in the text that supports your claim? I think Hermauer could have a large audience, but the essay seems to relate to young adults the most.  If people who are in high school or college didn’t learn responsibility early on, they could be accepting responsibilities in the present, and struggling with the same things Hemauer did back then, like waking up before the sun for class.  She has such a large audience because most people have felt out of place in a social environment, or how the burdens of their daily routines make it harder to enjoy social activities.

3.  Voice and tone:  How does Hemauer establish her ethos – her credibility – in this essay? Hermauer establishes her ethos because she describes in great detail what she experienced in her childhood, and how it affected her as she was growing into an adult.  She broke down her family’s daily morning routine, each member’s responsibility in the barn, her troubles falling asleep in school, and her excitement in being allowed to join the basketball team.  It makes it easy for her audience to believe she really experienced these things.

4.  Responsibility:  What is Hemauer’s responsibility to her readers?  To the members of her family?  How does she fulfill these responsibilities?

5.  Context, format and genre:  Hemauer has written a personal essay.  When writing in this genre, writers try to relate their own personal experiences to much broader, general human experiences.  How has Hemauer used her personal remembrances of growing up on a dairy farm to help her readers, whose own lives may have been very different from that of a midwestern farm girl, relate to the essay? Hermauer uses her personal experiences to portray emotions on a broader scale, both positive and negative.  She humanizes the codependency of humanity by being a part of her family’s business.  She feels both suppressed and liberated by her tasks, because even though she likes feeding the calves and taking care of them like her family takes care of her, she suffers when she can’t stay after school to participate in clubs or sports.  These are all feelings other people can relate to, whether or not they grew up on a farm.

6.  Even though you may have had a much different childhood from Hemauer’s, can you relate to some of her experiences?  What does she do to develop interest in the subject of her essay? I can relate to all of Hemauer’s experiences in some way – even living on a farm, though I wasn’t subjected to the same chores she was.  I have worked on a ranch in North Dakota and understand the work and dedication it takes to maintain.  Daily chores are extremely important because the functions of a farm or ranch are the owner’s livelihood.  She develops interest in her subject by elaborating on the details of her experience and allowing her readers to live in her world.

7.  What do you see as the significance of Hemauer’s story? The significance of the story is using her childhood as a model of how her family taught her responsibility, and how her lack of socializing as a child inspired her to be very active and involved in her teenage years.

8.  How do descriptive and narrative details function in the essay?  Point to several places where Hemauer “shows” instead of “tells.” Hemauer describes her house, where she emphasizes the country lifestyle of her family by mentioning details about the decor, the rooms, and the basement where their dirty farm clothes are kept.  She describes a hectic morning after chores where the family eats breakfast in shifts and she and her siblings rush out the door to go to school.  Instead of telling her readers how tired she is, she mentions that she’s already been up for four hours by the time class starts, where as her classmates rolled out of bed with just enough time to get to school.

9.  How does Hemauer use dialogue in the essay?  What other methods does she use to show readers what her life as a farm girl was like? Hemauer uses dialogue to communicate her own thoughts, communal thoughts shared by her siblings (“I hate this”) and conversation between two girls at school that describe the kind of things she wishes she could do.

10.  Search the web to find other narratives – even blog entries – on which other college students reflect their life and work experiences.  How do they compare to Hemauer’s narrative about her farm-life experience?

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