an essay on Zadie Smith’s “North West London Blues”

Write an essay in which you explain how Zadie Smith builds an argument topersuade her audience that public libraries are important and should remainopen. In your essay, analyze how Smith uses one or more of the features listedin the box above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic andpersuasiveness of her argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on themost relevant features of the passage.Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Smith’s claims, butrather explain how Smith builds an argument to persuade her audience.
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Essay 7
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5NS01E
As you read the passage below, consider how Zadie Smith uses
• evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
• reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
• stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion,
to add power to the ideas expressed.
Adapted from Zadie Smith, “The North West London Blues.” ©2012 by NYREV,
Inc. Originally published June 2, 2012. Writer Zadie Smith wrote the following
piece in response to news that several local libraries in the greater London area,
including Kensal Rise and Willesden Green Libraries, would be closed down.
1
What kind of a problem is a library? It’s clear that for many people it is not a problem
at all, only a kind of obsolescence.1 At the extreme pole of this view is the technocrat’s
total faith: with every book in the world online, what need could there be for the
physical reality? This kind of argument thinks of the library as a function rather than
a plurality of individual spaces. But each library is a different kind of problem and
“the Internet” is no more a solution for all of them than it is their universal death
knell. Each morning I struggle to find a seat in the packed university library in which
I write this, despite the fact every single student in here could be at home in front of
their macbook browsing Google Books. . . . Kensal Rise is being closed not because it
is unpopular but because it is unprofitable, this despite the fact that the friends of
Kensal Rise library are willing to run their library themselves. . . . Meanwhile it is
hard not to conclude that Willesden Green is being mutilated not least because the
members of the council see the opportunity for a sweet real estate deal.
2
All libraries have a different character and setting. Some are primarily for children or
primarily for students, or the general public, primarily full of books or microfilms or
digitized material or with a café in the basement or a market out front. Libraries are
not failing “because they are libraries.” Neglected libraries get neglected, and this
cycle, in time, provides the excuse to close them. Well-run libraries are filled with
people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor
public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.
3
In the modern state there are very few sites where this is possible. . . . It would seem
the most obvious thing in the world to say that the reason why the market is not an
efficient solution to libraries is because the market has no use for a library. Nor can
the experience of library life be recreated online. It’s not just a matter of free books.
A library is a different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by
its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.
1 The condition of being old-fashioned or no longer useful
2
Unauthorized copying or reuse of any part of this page is illegal.
4
I don’t think the argument in favor of libraries is especially ideological or ethical.
I would even agree with those who say it’s not especially logical. I think for most
people it’s emotional. Not logos or ethos but pathos. This is not a denigration:
emotion also has a place in public policy. We’re humans, not robots. The people
protesting the closing of Kensal Rise Library love that library. They were open to any
solution on the left or on the right if it meant keeping their library open. . . . A library
is one of those social goods that matter to people of many different political attitudes.
All that the friends of Kensal Rise and Willesden Library and similar services
throughout the country are saying is: these places are important to us. We get that
money is tight, we understand that there is a hierarchy of needs, and that [libraries]
are not hospital beds and classroom size. But they are still a significant part of our
social reality, the only thing left on the . . . street that doesn’t want either your soul or
your wallet.
5
If the losses of private companies are to be socialized within already struggling
communities the very least we can do is listen to people when they try to tell us where
in the hierarchy of their needs things like public space, access to culture, and
preservation of environment lie. “But I never use the damn things!” says
Mr. Notmytaxes, under the line. Sir, I believe you. However. British libraries received
over 300 million visits last year, and this despite the common neglect of the various
councils that oversee them. In North West London people are even willing to form
human chains in front of them. People have taken to writing long pieces in
newspapers to “defend” them. Just saying the same thing over and over again. Defend
our libraries. We like libraries. Can we keep our libraries? We need to talk about
libraries. Pleading, like children. Is that really where we are?
Write an essay in which you explain how Zadie Smith builds an argument to
persuade her audience that public libraries are important and should remain
open. In your essay, analyze how Smith uses one or more of the features listed
in the box above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and
persuasiveness of her argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the
most relevant features of the passage.
Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Smith’s claims, but
rather explain how Smith builds an argument to persuade her audience.
Unauthorized copying or reuse of any part of this page is illegal.
3

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