The Problem of Entitlement: The Question of Respect

Pages: 3
Words: 868

The appreciation of literary works is a complex endeavor, which requires the adoption of an unbiased approach to this task complemented by the focus on positive aspects instead of solely highlighting the drawbacks. This topic is thoroughly examined by Steve Almond, whose article “The Problem of Entitlement: The Question of Respect” presents a piece, efficiently incorporating personal experience. In this publication, the author speaks about his participation in the MFA program for discussing the Best American Short Stories, which proved to be a turning point in his thoughts about literary criticism (Almond).

It allowed him to formulate the opinion regarding the “right to dislike particular stories,” which does not mean one can “dismiss them entirely” (Almond). This stance is applicable to other areas, for example, evaluating the products of pop culture since the issue, in this case, is similar to the prejudiced attitudes towards writers. Hence, Almond provides a practical framework for assessing literature alongside other creative fields by relying on real-life situations, and his expertise, underpinned by the inclusion of suitable rhetoric devices, to reach the audience.

Thesis, Claims, and Audience: Effectiveness of Writing

In order to address the task of persuading readers in the need to change their attitudes towards writing, Almond presents a claim, reflecting his opinion, as guidance for further consideration. At the beginning of the article, he draws their attention to the problem by formulating the following statement:

In my own experience, the Problem of Entitlement has gotten worse over the past decade and a half, and for three distinct reasons: first, the growing competitive pressures on aspiring writers; second, the pace and ease of judgment fostered by digital technology; and finally, the insidious cultural tendency of students to think of themselves as customers (Almond).

In this way, by highlighting the factors which affected the emergence of the challenge, Almond emphasizes the inappropriateness of dismissing the advantages of literary works by applying adverse societal tendencies to this area. In turn, the author’s background, including his teaching experience and writing career in general, serves as the reason why he should be seen as a person possessing credible information on the subject. By combining these two circumstances, which are the inclusion of numerous conditions and personal experience, one can confirm the effectiveness of this piece for convincing individuals to change the way they approach contemporary literature. Since the target audience is primarily journalists and students, it can positively affect their intentions to make a shift.

Rhetorical Appeals

The examination of Almond’s claims and his successes in reaching the intended readers of the article proves that the assessed piece is a compelling message. Meanwhile, this stance is also underpinned by the use of rhetorical appeals, which support the author’s aims. Thus, the main device, which he relies on, is pathos since personal experience and real-life examples are presented as the justification of his right to speak about the topic while being objective (Almond). This appeal to emotions is complemented by logos, which is seen in the incorporation of extensive data and the rationality of reflections for supporting the need for a change (Almond). Alongside these two techniques, Almond uses ethos when narrating about students’ opinions and his beliefs in terms of their improper approach to criticism. In this way, the persuasive power of this essay is guaranteed by the adoption of numerous methods for achieving the goal, which are equally important for the results.

Support for the Author’s Argument

The analysis of the selected article from the perspective of the formulated claims, target audience, the author’s thesis, and rhetorical devices shows that this piece has practical implications. Therefore, one cannot disagree with this well-thought argument supported by credible evidence and correlating with other examples. Thus, the principle, according to which “entitlement ultimately corrodes your creative efforts,” and “generosity and humility will get you a lot further as a writer,” are informative for assessing literary works (Almond).

For instance, the initial rejection of many stories and novels, including the works of Stephen King, Agatha Christie, or Margaret Mitchell, happened in the first place because of someone’s alleged entitlement to criticize. It means that this practice has a long history; however, an attempt to gain a better understanding of these products can prevent their complete dismissal. In other words, justification of such decisions should be based on one’s actual knowledge instead of solely focusing on the evaluations of books in the absence of a well-informed opinion.


In conclusion, the formulation of a suitable approach for criticizing literary works by Almond was performed effectively with the adoption of suitable rhetoric devices and personal experience, ensuring the credibility of the findings. Moreover, the author managed to successfully persuade the audience in the necessity to reconsider the way they form opinions on one or another story to avoid bias. Even though the present-day world’s conditions promote a free expression of one’s stance, it should be well-informed. This principle presented by Almond is not only feasible from the perspective of making a positive change but also applicable to the task of accepting novels for publication. Therefore, the use of the discussed approach is crucial for the creation of proper attitudes towards the field and the elimination of obstacles for aspiring authors.

Work Cited

Almond, Steve. “The Problem of Entitlement: A Question of Respect“. Poets & Writers. 2014. Web.