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Faith and Doubt

Faith and Doubt
Format: MLA

This essay has us performing some research into the author's lives and how the way they lived influenced their writing.

In the essay, discuss how 2 of the authors used style as a means to convey their messages about faith and doubt. Remember style refers to the words and sentence structure that an author uses to present material. Also, do not summarize the story; analysis it. Look for patterns in the writing, and react to the patterns and to the whole work. Research the author's life and reflect how this influenced his or her writing.
Be sure that the essay includes the following:

1. A thesis, a title, a Works Cited page, and an effective introduction and conclusion
2. Using MLA format, integrate at least 2 - 4 outside sources both within the text and in a Works Cited page. Remember outside sources mean scholarly research on the author and the story. Do Not use Wikipedia.


Solution Preview

Let's start with the New York Times piece entitled "Hurricane Katrina: The Corpse on Union Street." This was written by Dan Barry, who is a New York Times columnist. To learn more about Dan Barry visit his biography at He grew up as an Irish-Catholic, going to Catholic schools, playing baseball, and dealing with a sick father and a mother who died of lung cancer. He now has an award-winning journalism career and has even written his memoirs entitled "Pull Me Up." He, himself, battled cancer at the age of 41 and survived. So, we may see Mr. Barry as an "average America," a baby-boomer, who grew up under harsh conditions in the 60s and 70s and came through it okay. He's had his struggles (like we all do), but he lives with passion -- passion for believing and doing the right thing.

So, when we read this piece about the aftermath of Katrina, we can see Mr. Barry's ethos coming through -- his passion. He writes with a style of disbelief, or perhaps incredulity. He is sickened and indignant about what he sees.

His column is punctuated by, what I call, vignettes -- short, unconnected words-pictures of his experiences witnessing New Orleans in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane. This is particularly noted in his writing style, in that almost all of his paragraphs are very short, some of which are only one sentence long. But also notice that his writing is filled with descriptions -- he wants the reader to smell, to see, to hear the misery in the streets in New Orleans. And I think he was quite effective at that.

He begins his column with the shocking image of a rotting corpse in downtown New Orleans. Growing up Catholic and having a religious faith, such an image stirs passion and "righteous indignation." Why hasn't anyone taken care of the body? Does noone respest the dead anymore? Since when? Why have we become so cavalier toward the dead? Is this the American tradition? Are people too interested in their own miseries that they cannot take the time to do the ...