Literacy and Street Names

Topics: Literacy, Functional illiteracy, Reading Pages: 3 (871 words) Published: December 6, 2013

An analysis of Jonathan Kozol’s “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society”
In the story of “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society” Jonathan Kozol reasons the negative effects of being illiterate. American illiterates are being shut down by society in a world where becoming a successful that seems uncertain for illiterates. Kozol shows to the reader the many risks that an illiterate American has to face on a daily basis and the dangers that results from it. “They cannot read traffic signs and, while they often learn to recognize and to decipher symbols, they cannot mange street names which they haven’t seen before” (256). This confirms how American illiterates are in danger of getting lost or not knowing how to get back home. They need constantly need assistance, and cannot go anywhere without a help of guidance through the streets. We tend to ignore a person in need when they need us the most, which makes illiterate people, scared of asking for help until it’s too late. Another potential problem that illiterates can occur is that their children can be in danger and needs to seek medical attention, but since the parent is illiterate she can’t help his or her own child. “What do I do if my kids stared choking? I go running to the phone…I can’t look up the hospital phone number” (257). The child eventually dies and the illiterate parent can’t help because he or she cannot call the ambulance and tell them their location, and leaves them in shame. American illiterates are challenged everyday and fail a lot because of not be able to read or write. Most people don’t understand the important reasons of why being literate is important. Illiteracy can run into conflict such as, not being able to help their children with homework, cannot read bills, have problems with reading prescriptions on bottles, and other everyday tasks. Illiterates are afraid to ask for help for doing the simplest tasks. “The purchaser who cannot read does not dare to ask for help, out of the...

Cited: Kozol, Jonathan. “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society.” The Arlington Reader: Contexts and Connections. Ed. Lynn Z. Bloom and Louise Z. Smith. New York:Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2011. 252-259. Print.
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