You are the Target

1486 Words6 Pages
Writers and artists widely use literacy as a tool to situate characters and readers alike to understand a theme or message. When this is done, a situation known as a literacy event is created. One of the most powerful tools to use in art, the literacy event is often used in writing to bring a character to understanding on a certain subject or theme of life. However, it is possible for a writer to use literacy in a piece to establish a literacy event with the reader of the piece. This is a powerful use of literacy in which it is almost never noticed happening to the reader. In their works “Digging,” “Tips from My Father,” and “Sonny’s Blues,” Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Davis, and James Baldwin (respectively) use literacy to create a literacy event not only in the works – but with the reader as well.

In their respective pieces each author uses literacy in a different way, but for the same purpose. To understand how they use literacy a reader must first understand what literacy is. Literacy is a very simple thing to understand though as it is used by everyone every day. Literacy’s precise definition ranges from the ability to read, write, and use numeracy all the way to the higher level of organization as a community to function and solve problems together. Because literacy plays such a role in daily functioning, it requires learning continuously to adapt properly. This not only makes literacy an important part of life – it becomes absolutely necessary.

To give literacy an easy context to work with it can be said that literacy is, at its core knowledge and potential. Imagine seeing a stop sign, registering that it means to stop, and then stopping because of understanding the stop sign’s meaning; this is literacy. Not only...

... middle of paper ...

...use literacy as a form of technology to bring the characters in their works to an understanding. This understanding is like the crane where the heavy load is showing the reader how literacy can communicate the ever persistent quest for understanding one’s self. Because we as human beings are so used to using literacy in our everyday life we don’t even realize that this is happening, and that shows how effective of a tool literacy is – so effective that it goes unnoticed, it is merely second nature.

Works Cited

Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” The Seagull Reader Stories. Ed. Joseph Kelly. New York:

W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008. 29-61. Print.

Collins, James. “Literacy and Literacies.” Annual Review of Anthropology 24 (1995): 75-93.


Davis, Carol Ann. “Tips from My Father.” Kelly. 81.

Heaney, Seamus. “Digging.” Kelly. 148-150.
Open Document