- Compare and contrast John Grisham’s piece to any essay, long-form article on a website like The Atlantic (https://www.theatlantic.com/) or other news sources, or film/documentary that explores a contemporary social issue that matters to you. Have a debatable, persuasive claim and focus on specific points of comparison, using the Lesson in week 7 to guide your structure.
Your essays should be in MLA Style and approximately 1625-1950 words, not including the Work(s) Cited page. Meeting the minimum word requirement makes you eligible for a C grade. Meeting the maximum word requirements makes you eligible for an A grade. As with most academic writing, this essay should be written in third person. Please avoid both first person (I, we, our, etc.) and second person (you, your).
In the upper left-hand corner of the paper, place your name, the professor’s name, the course name, and the due date for the assignment on consecutive lines. Double space your information from your name onward, and don’t forget a title. All papers should be in Times New Roman font with 12-point type with one-inch margins all the way around your paper. All paragraph indentations should be indented five spaces (use the tab key) from the left margin. All work is to be left justified. When quoting lines in literature, please research the proper way to cite short stories, plays, or poems.
Should you choose to use outside references for prompt one or two, these must be scholarly, peer-reviewed sources obtained via the APUS library (select Advanced Search and check the Peer Reviewed box). Reliable open web sources may be used for prompt three. Be careful that you don’t create a “cut and paste” paper of information from your various sources. Your ideas are to be new and freshly constructed.
John Grisham, “Somewhere for Everyone,” Newsweek, February 9, 1998. Reprinted by permission of The Gernert Company, agent for John Grisham
and say, “Serves them right. If they’re gonna abuse drugs and alcohol, they belong on the streets.” Let’s not kid ourselves. If teenagers from good families and executives with big jobs can succumb to alcohol and drugs, what can we expect from people who live on the streets?) Many of the homeless are mothers with children, and shelters are not always equipped to handle them. Tonight many thousands of children will find a place to sleep without a decent bed, shelter or roof. They will sleep in the trunks of old cars, and in parks I wouldn’t walk through in daylight, and in abandoned buildings in inner-city combat zones.
There is now a new and growing threat. Some cities are in the midst of an effort to criminalize homelessness. Attempts have been made to outlaw panhandling, sleeping on park benches and sidewalks, eating near fountains and leaving personal property on public property. Some of these ill-advised ordinances have been struck down, so the cities selectively enforce existing laws. A panhandler may be charged with blocking pedestrian traffic or loitering. A wino sleeping in a park may be charged with public drunkenness. A homeless man relieves himself in an alley and he’s charged with public exposure.
Sweeps have become routine in some cities. The police target certain areas of a city. They remove those who are begging or otherwise appear unsightly and simply deposit them into another, less fashionable section of town. Or they arrest them and grind them through the overworked criminal justice system.
Everyone has to be somewhere. The problem of homelessness is not solved by removing the victims from our view. The issue borders on the brink of hopelessness.
I didn’t know this a year ago. I had other causes and concerns and supported other charities. Then inspiration hit. Ideas for novels often fall from the sky, striking like lightning and causing sleep loss. (Others take years to piece together.) I thought of a story about a young lawyer who has a violent encounter with a street person, and who survives, and for the first time in his busy young life stops and notices the less fortunate. In short order he becomes a street lawyer, a public-interest advocate for the poor. Adding a few of the usual twists and turns, I could make the story work. Problem was, I knew nothing about street law.
In the spring of ’97 my research took me into the world of the homeless. I made the two-hour drive from my comfortable home in the Virginia countryside to the streets of D.C., and there I met real poverty lawyers. I went to shelters where people lived packed together, their meager assets locked away in small trunks. I met women whose children had been taken away because they couldn’t feed and clothe them. I met young mothers still clinging to their kids, terrified they would lose their shelter space and land in the streets. In a church basement I chatted with street people happy to be eating a warm meal, most of them uncertain where they would sleep in a few hours. I almost froze on a park bench one night as I tried to strike up a conversation with a homeless man who suspected I was from the IRS. I talked politics with a panhandler near the Capitol. He finally asked me to leave because I was hurting his business. I listened to hymns being sung at a women’s center as it closed for the day. The ladies said their goodbyes and drifted away, half
of them headed for shelters, the rest destined for alleys and parks. I interviewed volunteers and social workers, and I’m still amazed at their compassion.
I cried only once. I was in a soup kitchen one night, trying but failing to appear inconspicuous, when a young mother rushed in with three children, an infant and twin boys. She was running from something, but no one seemed to care. Her boys were about 4 dressed in rags and bone thin, and they attacked a tray of peanut butter sandwiches as if they hadn’t seen food in a month. A volunteer fixed them a plate with cookies, an apple, a cup of vegetable soup and more sandwiches. They ate furiously, their eyes darting in all directions as if someone might stop them. They stuffed themselves because they knew the uncertainties of tomorrow.
Little street soldiers, preparing for the coming battles. Is this the Third World, I asked myself? Or is this America?