The “Values” Wasteland by Charles Sykes Literature Analysis

Lots of writers prefer to use exemplification in their works. Such preference is based on one simple thing – the essence of exemplification and its ability to express the major idea of the text using examples and their explanation. (Zillmann & Brosius, 1) Nowadays, readers want to find information that can be proved by certain facts and real-life examples. They like to compare the situations, described in the chosen pieces of writing, to the situations, which happen or may happen to them in their lives.

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This is why exemplification is one of the modes of symbolization that should be used in works to attract the reader’s attention and present captivating information. For example, Charles Sykes, in his The “Values” Wasteland, chooses exemplification as the major mean to present and analyze the things, which so many people get used to doing in rather degrading ways. With the help of examples, the author gets a wonderful opportunity to underline what is important for modern people and what ways they use to achieve desirable purposes.

Without any doubts, our modern generation changes its values day by day. Usually, society and its preferences cause all these numerous changes and unpredictable consequences. Sykes admits that society demonstrates what can be significant in this life without taking into consideration lots of moral aspects, and young people see these things and try to express themselves using what they observe outside.

“Society’s shift from a culture of self-control to one of self-gratification, self-actualization, and self-realization and its changing norms regarding personal responsibility and character, was not restricted to the arena of public education.” (Sykes, 158) It is quite possible that the reader will find the ideas of Sykes educative and start thinking about the ways of how to improve this life.

To prove that values considerably impact our everyday life, Sykes uses numerous cases of exemplification. Of course, exemplification is one of the strongest techniques, which the author may use to persuade the reader. For example, he describes the situation when one teenager is cheating on tests. In spite of the fact that tests are not of that importance, cheating turns out to be one of the ways to make this life easier and simpler, at least, for some time.

However, at the same time, the author underlines how it is important to keep certain values. Maybe, it is better to do more to make this life better without breaking certain rules. Sykes does remember about both negative and positive aspects of this life. However, he uses exemplification more to focus the reader’s attention on the consequences of people’s choice and preferences.

“Making a decision is like speaking prose – people do it all the time, knowingly or unknowingly.” (Kahneman & Tversky, 1) It is high time to make one more decision taking into consideration the examples, presented by Sykes in his work. Sexual life, desire, fantasies, and dreams – to help the reader comprehend their essence the author uses exemplification that demonstrates how terrible children fantasies may be.

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To my mind, Charles Sykes is one of those authors, who prefer to present true facts and prove them using real-life examples. In The “Values” Wasteland, he perfectly uses exemplification to help the reader comprehend what makes our generation as it is and explains whether it is possible to change something for better.

Works Cited

Kahneman, D. and Tversky, A. Choices, Values, and Frames. Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Sykes, C. Dumbing Down Our Kinds: Why American Children Feel Good about Themselves. Griffin, 1996.

Zillmann, D. and Brosius, H-B. Exemplification in Communication: The Influence of Case Reports on the Perception of Issues. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000.

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