Why Jerry Rockwood’s Essay “Life Intrudes” is EffectiveJerry Rockwood’s reflective essay “Life Intrudes” is effective because of the way in which he has constructed the piece. He uses the four Reflective Strategies that are derived from Reading Critically, Writing Well by Axelrod and Cooper. The strategies are; Particular Occasion, Developing the Reflection, Topical Coherence, and Engaging the Reader. It is because of Rockwood’s strong and correct usage of these strategies that his essay is effective at persuading the reader to believe in his thoughts on raising children, more namely boys. In addition, Rockwood’s essay is also effective at getting the reader to reflect on their own personal experiences that are relative to the subject of raising children.
The first of the four reflective strategies, Particular Occasion, is “the main experience that started the writer thinking” (A&C p123). The key to this strategy is to present the occasion in a manner that entices the reader to know more about what the writer is thinking. Rockwood uses this strategy in paragraphs one and two when he vividly describes his own childhood and refers to his “squelched aggression”, and how his bottled up anger helped him when he was acting. When he describes the situation that made him begin to reflect, it causes the reader to want to read more. The reader becomes curious and wants to know the reflections of the experience. Therefore, by presenting the particular occasion Rockwood effectively captures the reader’s attention.
The second reflective strategy that Rockwood effectively uses is Developing the Reflection. Developing the reflection is a used to explore the subject that is introduced by the Particular Occasion. This includes “both ideas about self and society and development of these ideas.” (A;C p124). Rockwood does this by giving examples of the Cherokee Indian and Eskimo way of raising children. He also poses questions in paragraphs three, eight, and nine. He asks, “What should I have told my son to do?” (A;C p137) which makes the reader think of what values he should imposed on his son. In paragraph three he states a thesis, so to speak, he says, “It makes me wonder about the values that we impose in raising our children.” (A;C p 136). That is Rockwood’s main question, what should our values be that we raise our children with? The author effectively presents relative ideas about the subject, he also gets the reader thinking about his ideas.
The third of the four reflective strategies is Topical Coherence. Topical Coherence is the veritable glue that holds reflective essays together. It is the “assurance that the reader senses that all parts of the essay seem relevant to the topic.” (A&C p124). Rockwood’s essay presents several different situations, but he ties them together by showing their relativity through examples. Rockwood only uses relevant examples such as how the boys of the Cherokee and Eskimo cultures are raised learning to deal with their environment. Where as his son was raised in a very sheltered manner. By correctly utilizing Topical Coherence, Rockwood keeps the reader’s attention focused on the main idea or question that is being presented.
The final of the four reflective strategies Engaging the Reader. This strategy is used to make the reader reflect on their own experiences. This is done by making “surprisingly apt examples, comparisons and contrasts.” (A&C p126). Rockwood makes excellent use of this strategy in his final three paragraphs. He questions, “are we wrong in presenting only half the picture?” This question causes the reader to think for a moment, but he immediately follows his question with an analogy which rhetorically answers his previously stated question. The analogy is “Do you train a sailor by showing him how to tie the ropes and neglect to tell him about wind direction and tides?” These questions are effective at causing the reader to realize the idea that Rockwood is presenting.
I feel as though Rockwood’s essay Life Intrudes is an effective reflective essay. It made me reflect on not only how children should be raised, but also on how I should live my life. “Life intrudes” as a statement, means so much. It means to me that no matter how much you train and prepare, things go awry. This essay is certainly effective, it made me reflect on my own childhood and how I was raised. My parents gave me rose colored glasses, but they reminded me to take them off sometimes. The manner in which Rockwood organizes his thoughts and uses the four Reflective Strategies, is the main reason for which his essay is effective.