Diversity and Joe: an Analytical Essay of "Joe Stopped by"

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Nichole Reynolds D. Tantalo ENG 101 – M, W 25 March 2013 Essay 2 Diversity and Joe: A Literary Analysis of “Joe Stopped By” Reflecting on his essay, "Joe Stopped By," Andrei Codrescu comments that part of the pleasure of writing this piece was "finding some tolerance for the strangeness of people I couldn't help being related to;" he judges the success of his writing on whether or not he is able "to achieve empathy for [his] subject, or even (in the best of cases) sink below the subject, in humility and abjection" (317). Are Cordrescu's depictions of his wife's family, particularly Joe, empathetic? How does he create empathy for a character with many offensive characteristics? Does he express humility or abjection in this essay? The answers will reveal whether or not the author fulfills his own standards of success in this essay. Codrescu's description of his relationship with his father-in-law, Joe, as being one of “mutual incomprehension” (307), sets the stage for the entire essay, which the author uses to gain favor for his conclusion that the concept of diversity (the subject of the essay) is a farce. Diversity requires empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another – the exact opposite of their shared “incomprehension” of one another. The author draws support for this conclusion by setting the stage through depictions of Joe's character and then allowing Joe's dialogue (associated with such controversial topics as politics, religion, and racism) to reveal his arrogant and infallible nature, which, by definition, makes achieving diversity with him impossible. To begin with, the author describes Joe's prejudiced person numerous times throughout the entirety of the essay. Verbal attacks are a common tool Joe uses to “defeat” his opponent: “So far Joe had gone after nearly everything he suspected I was: a Jew, a

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