Jonathan Kozol The Human Cost Of An Illiterate Society Essay

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Knowledge is an effective factor in which human society relies on. Throughout history, those who were knowledgeable were well-respected, honored and revered. Author Jonathan Kozol writes his essay, “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society,” to project the importance of knowledge and to explain that without it, one can suffer disastrous repercussions. He highlights real-life examples of how people suffer as a result of chronic illiteracy, and his entire essay is an advocacy for knowledge and literacy. Other authors such as Frederick Douglass and Richard Wright would use their personal experiences in completely different settings to highlight the power of knowledge. Douglass, a man born into slavery, and Wright, a man living through …show more content…
Wright, who had hoped for answers regarding others’ treatment of him and what it means for his freedom, realizes that though he had all evidence of his unjust condition, there was still little he could do about it. Similarly, Douglass reaches a point in his learning in which he realizes that freedom did not immediately come with knowledge. This is clearly stated in the quotation “Knowledge had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out” (146). All the knowledge he gained proved to be fruitless in his endeavor to escape life as a slave. That is, he had knowledge of the words and terminology related to emancipation and abolition, but had not learned of a way to actually achieve his desired outcome. He reaches a point at which he decides that “learning to read and write has been a curse rather than a blessing” (146). Though Wright and Douglass would both agree that literacy had brought them both down by offering them hope without providing any reasonable course of action, Kozol would argue that illiterates “live, in more than literal ways, an uninsured existence” (161). Having both experienced hopelessness and a moment of uninsured exsistence