Film & Culture Final Essay with Self Assessment

Mikhale Carter

Professor K.C. Jensen

Film & Culture

11 December 2013


            The 2011 film Shame, directed by Steve McQueen, takes place in contemporary New York City and depicts the rapid downfall of a successful young advertising executive, Brandon. Despite his charm, good looks, and wealth, Brandon has a sexual addiction that causes him to lead a double life. In this essay I will argue that the film portrays an essentially traditional view of sexuality and its relationship to intimacy. To make this case, I will discuss two of Brandon’s relationships and, in turn, how they support my claim and, last, discuss how an interesting relationship between the diegetical content of the film and the medium of film itself supports my claim.

For the first half of the film, Brandon has only a distant attraction to his coworker, Marianne. When they go out on an expensive date, the audience should be a little surprised, because all of Brandon’s experiences with sexuality up to that point have been either one night stands or viewing pornography online. Indeed, on his way to the date, he happens to see a couple having sex in a high rise, which he calmly watches for a period of time. Despite his obvious strong sexual desire, it also seems as though Brandon has a stronger urge to develop greater intimacy with Marianne. In their conversation, Marianne describes her recent divorce, yet is optimistic about intimate relationships despite her poor fortune. Brandon, in turn, is pessimistic about such relationships despite the fact that he “gave one a try” of four months. While they end the night joking and laughing, there is no sexual culmination for Brandon, which he appears to actually appreciate and enjoy.

Brandon’s hyper sexuality soon comes into conflict with the growing relationship. Upon returning home from his date with Marianne, he begins to watch pornography online and, later, his sister (who is temporarily staying with him) accidentally catches him masturbating in the bathroom. He angrily reacts to this and kicks her out of his house. He then throws out an enormous trove of pornographic magazines, video tapes, and even his computer. The next day, he kisses Marianne at work and he whisks her away to the very same hotel that he had seen the couple the night previous having sex. When Brandon and Marianne begin attempting to have sex, however, Brandon cannot achieve an erection. Humiliated, Marianne shows herself out and Brandon is later depicted having sex with a prostitute in the same room a few hours later.

The relationship between Brandon and Marianne shows how his hyper sexuality subverts his ability to be intimate. In particular, the view of the relationship between sexuality and intimacy being espoused is a traditional one—that is, I take it, that an even balance must be struck between the two and that it is tragic for them to be out of balance. In this case, the view is being espoused by the tragic sense of Brandon’s relationship with Marianne. He clearly likes her—not simply as an object of sexual gratification, but something more. She, too, sees things in him beyond sexual attraction. But, because of his sexual addiction, the intimate feelings he has for Marianne actually make it impossible for him to  have a sexual experience with her. The audience would not find this circumstance tragic, however, unless it was against the traditional picture of an even balance between sexuality and intimacy. It is tragic because Brandon finally seeks to have both sexuality and intimacy but, because he is trapped in the former, he can have none of the latter.

The next relationship in the film that espouses a traditional view of the relationship between sexuality and intimacy is the one between Brandon and his sister, Sissy. Though there are mildly themes of incest, I will make this case not by direct analysis of their relationship, but rather by analogy between Brandon’s relationships with women and Sissy’s relationships with men. In particular, while Brandon is disfigured by only being able to relate to people sexually, using intimacy as a prop to get sex, Sissy is disfigured by only being able to relate to people intimately, using sex as a prop to get intimacy.

Sissy shows up unannounced at Brandon’s fancy Manhattan apartment early in the film. It is immediately clear that they have lived very different lives despite being siblings. He has a good career, is well-dressed, plenty of money, and is generally very organized. She, however, has lived a more bohemian life. While nothing of her past is given in great detail, she is a musician who has had a number of failed relationships and life choices. When she joins Brandon to stay with him for a while, it is because her and one of her old lovers have separated. The film means to compare these two in the following way. They are both tragic in the sense that they strongly desire to have fulfilling relationships with the opposite sex but fail for diametrically opposite reasons. In Brandon’s case, as discussed, he fails because of his hyper sexuality and underdeveloped ability for intimacy. In Sissy’s case, she fails because of her overdeveloped sense of intimacy. I will now explain how the film suggests this latter point.

The central plot features Sissy takes part in are as follows. She appears at Brandon’s apartment, is a presence disturbing his privacy and solitary existence (up to and including catching him masturbating as mentioned above), and messes up his house and generally lacks personal boundaries. This last piece is cemented by the sexual relationship that develops between Sissy and Brandon’s boss, who married with children. Sissy meets Brandon’s boss, who is a similar but less successful sexual conniver like Brandon himself, and sleeps with him soon after. But, unlike Brandon, Sissy’s goals are different. Indeed, her constant pestering and loving, dependent attitude toward the boss who only wanted a one night stand disgusts Brandon. This plot feature, i.e., Sissy’s using sex to get intimacy with Brandon’s boss, is the first way the film shows that Sissy’s inability to properly balance sexuality and intimacy is tragic.

The second way the film depicts Sissy’s attitude is by her lack of personal boundaries with Brandon (who, again, has too sharp and settled boundaries). This comes across in two ways. First, as mentioned above, she is unable to take care of Brandon’s apartment in the way that he is accustomed to. Despite seeing that her openness and attitude towards his possessions makes him uncomfortable, she simply does whatever she wants “because they are siblings.” Her tragic need for intimacy also drives the culminating scenes of the film. In these scenes, Brandon has continued to derail after his failed attempt at intimacy with Marianne and subsequently kicking Sissy out of his house. He spends a night attempting to seduce a woman in a bar that has a partner, receiving fellatio in a gay bar, and sleeping with two prostitutes in a brothel. During this time, Sissy calls Brandon and leaves him a message, crying. She says “we’re not bad people; we just come from a bad place.” After Brandon’s night of debauchery, he becomes worried about Sissy because he’s kicked her out. He soon finds her in his bathroom, having attempted suicide. Her suicidal response shows that she is unable to control her need for intimacy and her inability’s tragic end.

The above two pieces of plot have attempted to show that Shame presents a traditional view of the balance between sexuality and intimacy by depicting the lives of two siblings who lack such balance in opposite directions, to tragic results. The film also, however, presents this traditional view using cinematographic techniques. In Linda Williams’ “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess,” she describes the “success” of a genre like pornography as follows: “it seems to be the case that the success of [pornography] is often measure by the degree to which the audience sensation mimics what is seen on the screen” (4). To explain, compare the depiction of hyper sexuality in Shame to that of drug use in, for instance, Trainspotting (1996). While both films provide a subtle critique of what they depict, there is an additional complication in the case of Shame that the quotation from Williams suggests. That is, in the case of the depiction of drug use, the affective result of what are being depicted remains in the diagetical context of the film—i.e., the audience does not get high from seeing someone get high. In the case of pornography and filmed sexuality, there is transference to the audience. The relative “success” or “failure” of such a genre, then, is the extent to which it succeeds in transferring the depicted affective state to the audience.

Shame, while graphically depicting sexual scenes, does not constitute pornography in the above sense because the primary aim of the depiction is not to titillate or arouse the audience, but rather to illustrate the ultimate hollowness of such titillation. In particular, by seeing Brandon’s inability to generate intimacy that he craves and how painful it is to him, the final scenes of him sleeping with prostitutes, while filmed in a way reminiscent of pornography, is ultimately an incredibly sad scene. Despite representing sex in the same way as a pornographic film, in this film we know about the emotional undercurrents of the character’s life. Any this tragedy subverts the ordinary effect of such depictions. As I have been arguing for, this cinematographic technique subverts the ordinary effects of such depictions in the same direction as it depicts Brandon’s relationships with Marianne and Sissy—in the direction of critiquing a view of loving relationships as exclusively involving sexual activity on the one hand or intimacy on the other. In both cases, the possibility of a loving relationship is undercut to tragic effect.


“Shame (2011 Film).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 July 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.

“Trainspotting (film).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.

Williams, Linda. “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess.” Film Quarterly 44.4 (1991): 2-13. Print.

Film & Culture Self Assessment

I felt that in taking this course, it has taught me to look deeper into films and their affects on society today and throughout previous decades. I did not think that by enrolling this course that I would learn the impacts that film has had on gender and race.  This course has helped develop my critical and analytical skills as applied to film.

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Reflective Essay

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” – Mark  Twain

Mikhale Carter – English 1010 – 110




I never thought that I’d become such a wholehearted animal person, but after a few months of owning a formerly abandoned dog, that thought became something that I now live every single day. The experience I felt with Zoe has made me a better person. The kindness that she had once shown me, in return, is something that I now show animals dumped at shelters, thrown away like trash by careless owners.


The first time I saw Zoe was through a pixelated iPhone video sent to me by my significant other, CJ. He met Zoe while picking up our Siberian Husky Loki, from our doggy daycare. Zoe was clumsily running around the lobby of the daycare facility, bumping into his camera, eager to greet him and other daycare customers. After CJ told me that her previous owner dumped her there, and that the daycare was kind enough to find her a new home, I knew immediately that I had to meet her. I begged CJ to let me take her home for a night to see how she would adjust to us. Both CJ and I knew, that if she were to even step foot in our house, there would be no returning her.


I absolutely fell in love with Zoe the moment I picked her up. The daycare staff had recently bathed her for us – she was a tiny, rust colored Siberian Husky wearing a paisley pink bandana, which would otherwise be atrocious had it not been on such an adorable creature. Zoe sat so charmingly in the front seat as if she had been in my car before and was ready to go “home.”  I recall her looking at me as if she was thinking, “Well, what are you waiting for? Step on the gas! Let’s get out of this place!” She and Loki, our other husky, immediately became best friends. Once at our house Zoe made it her own. Our bed was Zoe’s, our couch was Zoe’s, and our food was Zoe’s. Her charming personality made up for her sometimes-annoying quirks, such as sitting on the bed alone and barking as loud as she could so that you would join her, or literally punching you in the face with her paw so that you would scratch her ears.



One of the reasons that Zoe’s owner no longer wanted her was that she was born with a liver shunt. A congenital liver shunt compromises the blood flow to and through the liver. I was appalled that her previous owner gave up on her for such an amendable issue! We immediately made her a vet appointment and started the necessary treatment until we could afford surgery for Zoe. Months went by, her health was up and down, she spent the occasional night at the ER, but she was always very happy to see us no matter how sick she was. Unfortunately on the morning of February 7th 2011, one day before Zoe’s scheduled surgery, she passed away on the way to the vet, during a seizure. The 30 minutes of horror, which myself, CJ, and Zoe all endured, was nothing short of devastating. I will never forget that awful morning when I lost my four-legged best friend.


In the short time we had Zoe in our home, a brief 9 months, I realized that there are thousands of animals in our state that are abandoned on a daily basis, those of which are 100% healthy, unlike Zoe, but have a lot of happiness and love to give. My experience with Zoe made a huge impact on life; in return I hope to make a huge impact on the lives of other unwanted animals. Zoe’s surgery fund was given to local Siberian Husky Rescues, as well as the animal hospital to help injured animals. Loving a sweet little dog who had no intention of changing me ultimately prompted me to do something beyond myself, so I started my own 501(c)3 rescue organization called Cause for Paws Utah.  Each time that I enter a sad, noisy shelter, I am overcome with a crushing sadness. However each time that I exit an animal shelter, with a wonderful, tail-wagging, indebted dog at my side, I think of Zoe and what she taught me. Animal rescue gives me new hope; there is nothing more rewarding than saving a life.

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Visual Anaylsis Essay

Mikhale Carter

Visual Analysis



Hidden Valley Ranch – Where Vegetables Are Delectable




Hidden Valley Ranch is a very well known Ranch Salad Dressing Company that was established in 1954. Appearing in the advertisement, is an enthusiastic looking dog, two happy children, each holding a bowl of broccoli, complete with a ranch dressing and a tomato on top, much resembling a bowl of ice cream, complete with cherries.  This advertisement, as it reads, does make vegetables “delectable.”


This Hidden Valley Ranch advertisement, which is portrayed in a 1950’s Norman Rockwell-esque fashion, brings a sense of history and familiarity to the product. Mr. Rockwell was an American painter and illustrator who focused on his reflection of American Culture, while his name might not be familiar to some; his paintings and illustrations are iconic and easily recognizable. In contrast to the timeless appearance of the advertisement, it was published in the May 2010 edition of Bon Appetit magazine.


This advertisement is uniquely an American scene from an earlier, possibly nuclear era, including two children, a boy and a girl with their dog. The children are sitting on the porch of what appears to be a middle class home. The young boy is wearing a baseball uniform, which seems very stereotypically American. The young girl is wearing a long 1950s style dress and her hair is back in pigtails. Their dog, a Beagle, is a quite popular family dog. The children and pet appear to be an all around American family. The advertisement appeals to your emotions by creating the idyllic American scene, the world and life we all hope for. A quaint simple existence with a small house, bicycle on the porch, a family dog, where children eat vegetables, because Hidden Valley Ranch dressing is much like a delectable bowl of ice cream.


The composition of the advertisement is inviting. The viewer is at the base of the stairs looking up, as if you were going to join them and share a bowl of their “delectable” vegetables. The stairs lead straight to the door; the door has two windows that let you see a bit of what is inside the home, which feels very inviting. The colors used in the Hidden Valley Ranch advertisement give a warm and inviting feeling, with tans, creams, light blue and red.  A warm balance of light highlights the animated expressions of the children. The chosen color palate and the soft focus of the image give it a warm sepia-toned photo look. The tones in the advertisement, make the images appear to be timeless, something you, the viewer has grown up with. From top to bottom, the advertisement is very interesting to the viewer.


The textual emphasis of the advertisement is simple. In the left hand corner you see a simple bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch and the words “Where Vegetables Are Delectable” are written to the right of it, along with their website beneath. The simplicity of the statement makes it appear to be a truth. If this simple statement is a truth then they are using the subtlety of the image as the proof. The familiarity of the imagery and setting also true and are imbued with the simple strength of the tag line, leading the consumer to a very “honest” purchase. This brand identity looks long established, as it if were something you knew as a child.


This advertisement does not have much repetition, however they are able to appeal to the viewer with iconic imagery. To me, this Hidden Valley Ranch advertisement does an excellent job of portraying the perfect wholesome life, where healthy foods are delicious, and ranch dressing is just as American as baseball. If you buy Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, your children will enjoy eating their vegetables.

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Forensic Pathology Essay

Forensic Pathology

Mikhale J. Carter

October 10, 2012

CJ 1350

Salt Lake Community College





















This paper explores the complicated and important area of forensic pathology. A forensic pathologist is a medical doctor that specializes in the field of death, training for such a position is not easy, and one can expect to spend approximately fourteen years to become qualified.   A forensic pathologist’s duty is to determine cause of death, whether it be homicide, suicide, accidental, natural or undetermined. Duties of a forensic pathologist are not limited to but include examination of the death scene, external exam, internal exam and the microscopic exam.
























Forensic Pathology is a branch of forensic science, which determines the cause of death and disease, examination of injuries due to crime and negligence, and examination of tissue samples relevant to crimes. This area of forensic science plays key role in crime scene investigation. Forensic pathology takes several years of schooling and dedication. In order for one to become a certified forensic pathologist, he or she must complete a four-year under graduate degree; four years of medical school, then must attend a residency program that can last from one year up to five years. Once schooling has been complete, the forensic pathologist will receive board certification from the National Association of Medical Examiners. From investigation at the crime scene, the medical examination and autopsy, to the microscopic investigation, working directly with law enforcement or testifying in a trial, the duties of a forensic pathologist are boundless.

A forensic pathologist’s evidence is the body itself and each component must be inspected. Organic and inorganic must be carefully collected.  The initial process begins by declaring the victim dead, or to later issue a death certificate. Before the body can be moved, it must be thoroughly photographed, with every inch of the scene documented as well. Importantly, the forensic pathologist is looking for clues that may indicate the persons time of death, he or she can determine this by observing the stiffness of the body, which is called rigor mortis, the temperature of the body, known as algor mortis and pooling of blood in body tissues, referred to as livor mortis. Once the initial evidence has been recorded, the forensic pathologist must supervise the removal of the body. To preserve evidence, the hands and feet of the deceased are placed in balloon-like bags, to secure any material that could be lost during transportation to the medical examiner’s office.  The body is then wrapped in a clean white sheet; white is chosen so that specks of evidence can easily be seen. Once wrapped, the body is placed in a body bag and ready for transport.

Upon arrival at the medical examiner’s office, the body of the deceased is placed in a refrigerated unit that is kept around 38 degrees. Temperature of the unit is important to preserve the body, but not damage tissues by freezing the body. Here it is kept until the autopsy is performed. Once it is time for the autopsy, the body is placed on a two tiered autopsy table and the external examination can begin. During the external examination, the body bag and sheet are inspected. The body is photographed; the clothing is examined for fibers, bloodstains, tears and holes. Fingernails of the deceased will be examined and scraped to collect any DNA or fibers that could be used as evidence. The forensic pathologist will examine the body with a magnifying glass, noting bruises and wounds. Then the pathologist x-rays the body to reveal any bullet fragments or materials, such as the tips of knifes that cannot be seen by the naked eye. After the x-ray has been performed, the body will be inspected with an ultraviolet light to reveal bodily fluids and bruises. Some bruises that cannot be seen by the naked eye can be discovered with the use of this special light. Once the external examination is complete, the internal examination takes place by cutting a Y incision from the top of the torso, down to groin. The pathologist cuts the ribs, which allows him or her to open the body for detailed examination. Each internal organ is removed and examined; tissue, blood samples are collected from each piece, as well as urine.  The stomach is thoroughly inspected for any remaining food content that could give the victim a time of death. Next the scalp is cut and folded down across the victims face; the top of the skull is cut and removed to expose the brain. The pathologist will weigh and take samples of the brain, also noting any possible injury that may appear. Once the internal examination is complete, the forensic pathologist will place the organs in the body and sew it up and released to the family. From here, all of the tissue samples collected will be sent to a laboratory for processing.

The microscopic investigation is the third and final key in a forensic pathologist’s process of determining a cause of death. Blood, urine, tissue and other evidence are rigorously processed. Toxicology analysis is helpful when identifying harmful substances such as poison or drugs that could result in death. This will determine suspicious evidence taken at the scene or from the deceased. DNA testing is a crucial part of the crime scene investigation. No two individuals have the same DNA structure; DNA testing can link this evidence with the possible murder suspect. If a suspect is absent, the profile can be entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s system, called (CODIS) or Combined DNA Index System in order to find a match. DNA can also be used to verify the identity of a disfigured body, by comparing it to that of a victim’s potential family member. Much like fingerprints, DNA can link or eliminate a suspect to a crime.

In all, forensic pathology is an extremely complicated component to forensic science. While they work with the deceased, face numerous challenges such as identifying and determining cause of death for badly decomposed or disfigured bodies, the goal of a pathologist is to bring answers to those missing loved ones and justice to the guilty. I find this area of forensic science to be extremely interesting as it is complex and takes dedicated individuals. Not only does the individual work with the dead, they must work directly with law enforcement and on occasion, testify in court.





Allman, T. (2006). The Medical Examiner (Crime scene investigations series)

Thomson Gale

Dix, J. & Calaluce, R.; with contributions by Ernst, M.F. (1998). Guide to Forensic


Originally published: Columbia, Mo. : University Printing Service.

Ribowsky, S. & Schachtman, T. (2006). Dead Center : behind the scenes at the world’s largest medical examiner’s office.

            HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.



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Self Assessment

Mikhale Carter

Self-Assessment for English 1010

            Reflecting back on this semester, I feel this English 1010 course with Professor Hirst has enabled me to grow intellectually and my abilities for writing and comprehension have increased dramatically. I have obtained basic knowledge and understanding of the effective stages and modes within the writing process.        

            Early on in the semester we were taught the key concepts to writing, from font to style, structure, text size and medium which were not items that I had previously thought about when writing a paper. We discussed the three ways of writing; enactive, iconic and symbolic which helped me through the process of completing the four assigned essays. 

Our first essay was a reflective essay in which I wrote about my dog that passed away last year and ultimately changed my life, prompting me to start a rescue organization. Constructing this essay helped me realize the importance of emotion when writing and the need to paint a clear picture that would help the reader relate to tone of the subject. I feel that the skills I used in writing this paper will help me in future projects, especially with the animal rescue.

Secondly, we prepared a visual analysis essay in which we chose an advertisement and assessed it for explicit and implicit message. We were taught to detect the seven visual design elements, emphasis, repetition, contrast, motion, balance, detail and point of view. This particular essay introduced logos, pathos and ethos which are key to English 1010.

In the third essay we were instructed to find an opinion editorial and to analyze its rhetoric. This was much more difficult than analyzing something visually. Professor Hirst thoroughly walked us through the processes of determining bias, style, and the author’s credibility. After completing such a challenging essay, I feel that I was able to overcome the challenge and meet the expected requirements.

Lastly, we were assigned to complete and Issue Exploration Essay, on a topic of our choice. The goal of this essay was to combine what was learned from the last three essays. While this essay took me much longer to complete, I feel that I was able to argue three points in a professional and informative way while combining accurate research information.

In all, I have benefited from English 1010 and will use the knowledge gained during the rest of my academic future. I am now comfortable with writing various types of papers and I look forward to the challenges that await me.


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Issue Evaluation Essay

Mikhale Carter

English 1010

Issue Evaluation Project


Making an educated choice when buying a dog


While many people own dogs and love them, often they do not think about the importance of how they purchase their pet. Though recalling how one got their dog becomes less important with time, there are a number of ways of buying a pet. The three sources of dogs I will discuss are pet stores, dog breeders, and animal shelters. These ways are not all equal, however, with respect to cost, efficiency, and, perhaps most importantly, with respect to the ethical practices the particular institution has in place. Each way of acquiring a dog has trade-offs, so it is important for potential owners to make an informed decision about the best way to get a dog. I argue in this paper that the considerations in favor of adopting dogs from shelter outweigh those of adopting from pet stores or breeders and so advocate that people should choose this method of getting their pet dogs.

Perhaps the most common way for individuals to purchase a dog is from a retail pet store. These stores sell various supplies for pet care including food and occasionally the pets themselves.  Many pet stores obtain their dogs from “puppy mills”. The ASPCA defines a puppy mill as “a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs.” An average puppy mill has between 65 and 75 animals that are housed in hutch-style cages with wire floors, often without protection from harsh weather conditions.

While the conditions of a puppy mill are often less than ideal, purchasing a dog from a pet store or puppy mill is probably the most convenient form of obtaining a dog. Pet stores do not require an individual to go through an application process, and the cost is relatively inexpensive compared to purchasing from a breeder. This means that an individual can purchase a dog right away, rather than wait for a litter from a breeder. Seemingly simple and accommodating, the individual will not see the cruel environment of where their puppy is being bred and raised, which is a major drawback as I will explain.

Commonly, puppies born into puppy mills are born with severe medical problems and receive little or no treatment. The puppies’ parents continue to produce litter after litter until considered useless and are thereafter often killed. Aside from major medical problems such as epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, and musculoskeletal disorders, these puppies often suffer from behavior problems due to lack of socialization. According to the ASPCA, there are upwards of 10,000 puppy mills in the United States, most of which are illegal. Puppy mills dogs are bred by the dozens in unsanitary conditions, mainly for profit rather than the well being of the animal. While purchasing from a pet store may seem like an ideal way to find a pet, people often do not know the suffering behind their choice. If they did know and took a greater interest in how their new pet was being sourced, they might look at dog breeders that are often more conscientious about these matters.


Purchasing a dog from a breeder involves many very different considerations than purchasing from a pet store. According to the American Kennel Club, a reputable dog breeder is essentially a canine expert. Breeding involves art, science and devotion in order to promote the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function. Breeders perform extensive genetic testing and structural evaluation to perfect each breed. Purchasing from a breeder is a way for a person to get the specific type of dog that they are looking for.

Aside from the general reasons for getting a dog like companionship, people choose to purchase purebred dogs from reputable breeders for several reasons.  An individual is able to anticipate the dog’s energy level, physical abilities, and temperament to a certain extent. By researching the breed beforehand and speaking with an expert breeder, that person will be more likely to choose a dog that better fits their lifestyle than if they had chosen a dog impulsively or as a last-minute gift. Another reason is the fact that knowing a dog’s lineage can help select a dog that does not have hereditary illnesses or physical malformations, which will ultimately save the owner money on veterinary expenses. Finally, another positive aspect of purchasing a dog from a breeder is that owners can be relatively confident knowing where the dog has been it’s entire life. In this way, potential owners can gauge the amount of training and socialization has already been accomplished.

While there are positive aspects of purchasing a dog from a breeder, there are also negative aspects. Purchasing purebred dogs from breeders can cost thousands of dollars or more. This cost can be prohibitively expensive for many people, since providing food and health care for any pet is already costly. Not only are purebred dogs from breeders quite expensive, the adopter must wait until the puppy is available to go to its new home, which by law, is no earlier than 8 weeks of age. Purchasing a dog from a breeder also does not help reduce over population for the following reason. Puppies can be sold as early as 8 weeks, which is too young to be spayed or neutered. Because owners often bring home pets that can procreate, novices can have accidental litters if the puppy is not monitored around other unaltered dogs, ultimately adding to the pet overpopulation epidemic that we face today.

The final way of getting a dog, and what I will argue is best, is to adopt from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It is estimated that over 3.7 million healthy, unwanted pets are euthanized at animal shelters each year due to overpopulation. In 2011, No More Homeless Pets in Utah concluded that Utah shelters took in 75,865 animals and 29,990 of those animals were euthanized, this number has dropped drastically from the help of local animal rescue organizations and those who choose adoption over buying a dog. 

There are several reasons to adopt from a shelter or rescue. For example, an individual does not always need to purchase from a breeder to obtain a purebred animal because many purebred dogs end up in shelters. So one can both save money and also an animal’s life while getting the same result. Dogs adopted from a shelter or rescue are already spayed, neutered, vaccinated, and typically micro chipped. These services dramatically cuts costs of veterinary bills that one would incur when purchasing a puppy from a breeder or pet shop. Even so, adoption fees are still significantly less than purchasing from a breeder or pet store. Adopting from a shelter or rescue also means that you are saving a life of a dog that can, and most likely will, be euthanized in order to make room for the countless other homeless dogs. Shelters offer dogs of all sizes and ages, most of which have previously had basic obedience and house training. While many older pets have had previous owners, and may have to be re-educated to some degree, this training builds the love and patience that are essential to forming a bond with one’s pet.

Though shelters and rescues assess their dogs prior to adoption, some rescued animals may have unpredictable behaviors. Without knowing a dog’s specific background, one might argue that an adopted shelter dog may turn out much different than it appeared in the shelter. Shelters and rescues groups also have a very strict adoption process with the animals’ best interested in mind, to ensure that they will not end up back in a shelter. Because of these strict processes, potential adopters may not meet the organization’s requirements and may need to wait in order to find a better match.

            There are millions of excellent dogs in shelters and rescues and this number increases daily. But these dogs did not appear out of thin air. Pet owners who, either by unforeseen circumstances or, worse, by failing to educate themselves about pet ownership before acquiring their dogs are the source of this problem. Each day these animals are killed, due to lack of homes. By adopting from a shelter or rescue instead of from a pet store or from a breeder, an individual will save money on veterinary and potential training expenses, have the opportunity to meet different breeds and ages of dogs, and ultimately help to eliminate the need for euthanasia in healthy, adoptable dogs. 















Annotated Bibliography

My thesis is that the considerations in favor of adopting dogs from shelter outweigh those of adopting from pet stores or breeders and so advocate that people should choose this method of getting their pet dogs. I have looked for sources that describe the practices of pet stores, breeders, and shelters. It will be important to find statistics that can be compared between these three ways of getting dogs. For instance, cost is a constant between all three.

“Pet Overpopulation.” American Humane Association. American Humane Assn., 2011. Web. 4 Oct. 2011. <;


            The overpopulation problem has three main contributors: irresponsible breeding, choosing not to adopt, and the idea of “disposable pets.” The main arguments are that the overpopulation problem is primarily caused by ignorance and irresponsible breeding. Puppy mills are an inhumane way of providing people with pets and only lead to more pets without homes. Also, the article strongly suggests that the best way to overcome these issues is to adopt and spay/neuter our pets.

            Author’s Credentials: The American Humane Association is an organization that was founded in 1877. They are dedicated to the welfare of animals, as well as children and have been enriching and protecting lives for decades.

“Common Questions About Animal Shelters”. The Humane Society of the United States. Web. 19 Oct. 2010. <

resources/qa/common_questions_on_shelters.html >


            This is a page on the Humane Society’s website with frequently asked questions about animal shelter operation and overpopulation. The information provided is very important in fully understanding euthanasia on unwanted animals and should be read before purchasing an animal from a breeder or pet store. These questions would help a person to understand the pet overpopulation problem.

            Author’s Credentials: The Humane Society of the United States is the largest animal advocacy organization in the world. HSUS operates animal sanctuaries in multiple states and also works heavily in disaster recovery and planning. The size of the Humane Society lends it credibility. They are, however, an advocacy group and so may have biases as a result.

“Puppy Mill FAQ”. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Web. 2012. <>


            The ASPCA website outlines basic information on Puppy Mills. Information includes common medical and behavioral problems in puppies, environment in which puppies are raised, state and legal information on puppy mills. This article helps convey the cruelty that animals in puppy mill facilities endure and the need for change.

            Author’s Credentials: The American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is the oldest animal welfare organization in the United States. As above, this organization is well-established and reputable and, as such, is unlikely to disseminate low-quality data but is still an advocacy group and so one must bear that in mind.


The American Kennel Club:

            The mission page of the American Kennel Club provides general information about dog breeding in the United States and the goals of this organization that supports that practice. The organization exists to promote the health and well-being of purebred dogs being raised by breeders, maintain the integrity of their registry of dogs, and to generally advance the sport of purebred dog.

            Author Credibility: The AKC was founded in 1884 and is the leading purebred dog organization in the United States. As such, they are a credible source about the practice of breeding such dogs and the methods and reasons that people have for acquiring them. Given the organization’s stature, I have a great deal of confidence in the credibility of their information with respect to dog breeding.

“Mission and Goals”. No More Homeless Pets in Utah. Web. <

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Mikhale Carter

English 1010

Rhetorical Analysis Essay



“My View: Should everyone go to college?”



Mike Rose is a professor, author, CNN columnist, and member of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. He came from a family with little higher education. His October 9th, 2012 article “My View: Should everyone go to college?” was written to make sense of the decision to go to college he sees many students facing. Mr. Rose writes a convincing article, which is made credible by his impressive academic and personal background, providing solid facts on education and employment, and reinstating the idea that college is also a journey of great personal growth that gives value to higher education that is far beyond numbers.


The integrity of the author lies within his background.  Author Mike Rose has several degrees from different esteemed colleges and has had first hand experience that leads back to a broad spectrum from kindergarten to adult literacy programs. As described in his article, Mr. Rose was not the exceptional student that one would assume from reading his article. He did not know the correct path and came from an obvious middle class background which he made apparent in his article by stating numerous times that his academic record was less than acceptable. Having been the fumbling student, the college graduate many times over, and being a professor, he is an ideal candidate to tell this story. Having authored many books on literacy and cognition, his perspective on the value of education is well informed.


The decision to go to college and the benefits that higher education may provide are no longer so black and white. Families across the country struggle to weigh the high price of tuition against the unreliable earning potential after graduation. According to Yahoo Finance, College-educated workers vastly out earn those without a degree, and the unemployment rate for college grads is a mere 4.1 percent, compared with 8.1 percent overall.


Mike Rose’s emotional experience brings an all too familiar feeling to the reader.  Many of us worry about the same circumstances as the author, such as finances and uncertainty of a degree, however the author describes his own academic struggle with less than perfect grades prior to his college education. He considers himself lost and fumbling with early classes, only to stumble upon something great; himself. The author’s early experiences in college were heavily influenced by passionate professors, people who showed him a world he had never known. Through these accidental experiences he found his path in life, one he may not have known had he missed his opportunity to attend college.


“Should everyone go to college?” is a stimulating and well written article. The author, Mr. Rose, uses his credibility, a logical economic analysis, and emotional empathy with college students to dismantle the question of attending college.  He walks the reader through the questions that many ask when thinking of attending college, the economic motivations behind the decision, and how the experience affects the student both short and long term.  The reader leaves with a better understanding of what the deeper meaning of education is and what you have to gain from the experience.


While the author debates on the question whether or not an individual should attend college, his message remains that as an individual he has been successful despite the pitfalls of higher education. Furthermore he asserts that the real value of a college education is not solely economic. The true value of education it seems cannot be determined from a debt to income analysis ratio. The academic experience is an opportunity to explore and become a better-rounded, well spoken, informed member of the community. Higher education nurtures the social, intellectual, ethical, and civic parts of the individual. Perhaps there is more to be gained from academia than the employment benefits a degree may or may not get you. 

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