In her passage “Live Free and Starve,” Chitra Divakaruni explains why The United States House of Congress should not have passed the bill, which restrains the importation of products from manufactories where child labor is used. As a result, she mentions this bill will adversely impact the lives and sustenance of children and their families in Developing nations. Divakaruni uses multiple persuasive appeals by giving a personal anecdote, which enables the reader to relate to an emotional experience of how this bill will adversely affect these children.
Divakaruni opens her argument by seeming to agree with the bill. She writes, “My liberal friends applauded the bill,” (428) stating that the bill was a celebratory advance in the field of human rights. She describes the wretched conditions these children live in and the horror of forced labor. A distinctive utilization of patriotic expression in her introduction invites the reader to connect with her point of view. She creates common grounds with her audience regarding liberty, human rights, and freedom. These affable overtones in the first paragraph, however, are displaced by the sarcastic tone of her last sentence, when she tells these free children could be “free and happy, like American children,” which predicts her later contrast of children in America versus children in developing nations who benefit from different economic structures. However, she indicates her disagreement with the proposed bill.
By using a personal anecdote the author effectively expresses her disagreement, which allows the reader to relate to the situation emotionally. Thus, she uses ethos to further her argument. She gives an example of a child named Nima who was from a tribal village that needed to find work in order to support his family, so Divakaruni’s mom hired him as a servant. This job had favorable working conditions that allowed Nimai to economically support his family. By using this example, Divakaruni not only appeals to the reader emotionally, but she also indicates that the bill is not applicable in all situations and other cultures. First, by the author’s use of ethos, the reader feels empathy towards Nimai and his pursuit to support his family. The way in which Divakaruni introduces the anecdote causes the reader to want the child to succeed; this anecdote indirectly leads the reader to support child labor to some extent. Second, this example disproves the notion presented by the bill that all child labor is bad and should be abolished. It provides an exception to this idea, which then proves the argument for the bill being wrong and points out a faulty reasoning in the bill.
She discloses a personal appeal toward the end of her article by giving the reader the brief glimpse into her own experiences with child labor through her anecdote of the child named Nimai, whom her mother had hired. Some could say that this story would make Divakaruni partial and culturally willing to accept this form of employment. However, she has avoided this issue by intermixing frequent concessions throughout every argument, keeping her American audience in mind. This brief story gives the reader a name and a face for one of these child laborers, a well-treated child named Nimai who “ate the same food that we children did and was given new clothes,” (249) and was encouraged to “learn to read and write” (249).
Divakaruni goes back to yet another concession, considering the context of American society, and putting child labor into that perspective. “It is easy for us to make this error,” (249) Divakaruni says, because Americans and even foreigners may have “wiped from their minds the memory” (249) of desperate conditions. She uses this forgiving statement to put her readers at ease again. However, she ends the paragraph by restating her argument that it is still true that these children “prefer bread to freedom” (249). She again uses imagery to create another emotional pull, this time in the opposite direction from before, by telling Americans that these conditions they had forgotten would force a parent to sell his or her child, which is unimaginable in our own society.
Throughout her passage, Divakaruni composes an excellent argument by projecting her point of view back and forth with the presentation of both the pros and cons of the bill. She exercises caution by agreeing with her target audience, allowing them to remain their sympathetic emotions while also using amiable sarcasm and logical appeals to express the other side of the story. Divakaruni includes a personal anecdote, putting a face and name to a child who benefitted from employment, and she is able to use the anecdote to show that, perhaps, allowing child labor is the only way to give these children better lives in a non-American culture. She concludes with a strong, powerful thought that will stick in the reader’s mind: the abolishment of child labor could leave these children in worse conditions. Overall, Divakaruni has created a convincing argument that is difficult to disagree and has affected the minds of many Americans through her writing.