ENG 100-019/021 Non-Fiction Essay Questions – Due September 22nd
This essay will require you to formulate a 1000-word argumentative essay on one of the essays covered in lecture from George Watsky’s How to Ruin Everything. The purpose of this essay is to test your understanding of the text and to put forth a detailed and comprehensive thesis statement and argument to prove the thesis statement. This thesis statement must formulate a strong and specific stance on a particular question that will be provided closer to the due date of the assignment. Your essay should also provide an understanding of how you intend to support your thesis statement and must also include sufficient evidence from the text. You must only answer ONE of the essay prompts, failure to explicitly state which question you will be taking on or using multiple questions will result in deductions.
● In the essay “Tusk,” we are introduced to George Watsky at what would be a grand in- between moment in life. Watsky is searching for purpose and belonging in the world of music and poetry, but is having troubles finding consistent work, which is part of the reason why he takes on the journey of smuggling the tusk across the border. In a 1000-word essay with examples taken from the primary source, write an argumentative essay with a complete thesis statement about how Watsky’s “Tusk” emphasizes relatability through his struggle to find purpose and meaning in the world.
● In the essay “Fa Kieu,” Watsky is constantly faced with the problem of having to fit in, a daunting task for a kid at any age. From issues of dress, to how he presents himself to friends, and how he interacts with the adults in his life, Watsky is trying to figure out how he fits in. In a 1000-word essay with examples taken from the primary source, write an argumentative essay with a complete thesis statement about how Watsky’s “Fa Kieu” exemplifies the significant struggle to fit in.
In order to succeed in writing these essays, you will want to make sure that you having an introduction, a coherent and cohesive thesis statement, body paragraphs with topic and transition sentences, quotations from the primary source (either “Tusk” or “Fa Kieu” in this assignment), a conclusion, and a works cited list. The best essays will form an argument around how the overarching themes of the essays are exemplified in Watsky’s essays. Spelling and grammar will also be taken into account when assigning a grade, so be sure to take the time to read over you work and make necessary edits. You should have at least 2-3 drafts of your work.
Finding Purpose and Meaning through Struggle: An Analysis of George Watsky’s “Tusk”
In his essay “Tusk,” poet and musician George Watsky recounts a journey he took smuggling an elephant tusk across the Mexican border. On the surface, this story details Watsky’s illegal activities and risky adventure. However, a deeper analysis reveals that Watsky uses this experience to explore his struggle to find purpose and meaning in life. Through his depiction of the smuggling journey and self-reflections, Watsky emphasizes the relatability of searching for direction and belonging during transitional periods.
Watsky was at a crossroads when he undertook the tusk smuggling. As he states, he was “searching for purpose and belonging in the world of music and poetry, but [was] having troubles finding consistent work” (Watsky, n.d., para. 1). Many can relate to feeling lost or adrift without clear career or life paths. Watsky’s willingness to take on risky work transporting the tusk demonstrates his desperation to find direction and stability. His choice also shows how transitional periods can lead people to make questionable decisions in attempts to define themselves.
During the journey, Watsky’s inner turmoil is evident. He questions “What the hell am I doing with an elephant tusk?” and ponders if he is “in over [his] head” (Watsky, n.d., para. 4). These self-doubts reflect the self-discovery process of reevaluating choices and capabilities. Watsky’s ruminations will resonate with those who have experienced angst over major life decisions. His vulnerability in sharing these doubts enhances the essay’s relatability. It shows struggle and uncertainty are normal parts of searching for purpose.
Watsky also uses vivid descriptions of his smuggling experiences to symbolize his search for meaning. Crossing the border in the dead of night “under a blanket of stars” parallels his feelings of venturing into the unknown (Watsky, n.d., para. 5). When questioned by authorities, Watsky’s panic represents the fear of being exposed before truly knowing oneself. Even after safely delivering the tusk, Watsky questions if this brief success will lead to more fulfilling work or was “just a blip” (Watsky, n.d., para. 11). These ruminations resonate with those navigating transitional periods of self-discovery.
In conclusion, through recounting his risky tusk smuggling adventure, Watsky crafts a relatable story of struggling to find purpose and direction during life changes. His vulnerability in sharing inner doubts and use of symbolic imagery enhances the essay’s ability to resonate with readers navigating similar transitional periods. Watsky’s willingness to take on questionable work also parallels the desperation many feel to define themselves without clear paths. Overall, “Tusk” emphasizes that with life transitions comes relatable turmoil that is part of the self-discovery process.
Watsky, G. (n.d.). Tusk. How to ruin everything. Retrieved September 23, 2023, from https://www.georgewatsky.com/how-to-ruin-everything
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