Biss Reading Response

Cameron Capachietti


  1. In Biss’ essay she started off by writing about the invention of the telephone and how telephone poles became a problem within the community, to the horrific act of killing African Americans. She swerves from these topics , one to another, quite smoothly. She allowed the reader to see the connection between telephone poles and African Americans, she painted the picture. She allowed the reader to see the connection of how the community rejected and despised the telephone poles being built on their sidewalks, as well as the racism going on with African Americans. They were both seen as a bad thing during this time so the connection seen between them was very prominent, to the point of even killing African Americans on telephone poles. This swerve and connection between these two topics induces shock into the reader because most people wouldn’t expect this transition. Even though both topics seem to be disconnected at first they just seem so connected at the same time if you think about it.
  2. When Biss states “The children’s game of telephone depends on the fact that a message passed quietly from one ear to another to another will get distorted at some point along the line”, we all think of the game telephone that we played as a kid. That is the obvious answer when you think of childhood games that relate, but on the other hand this can relate to a childhood “game” of rumors. Kids grow up with things being said left and right and their first instinct is to inform their friends about what they heard. The idea of rumors is hinted at in the statement from Bliss but not exactly said, this allows the reader to think of their own perspective on what she is saying.
  3. A symbol in writing can be many things, symbolism is the ability to use words to paint an abstract idea. Symbolism is great to portray a certain mood or emotion when writing. On the other hand, metaphors in writing are more of an implied comparison, like when you compare two things that are normal to connect or relate to each other. In Biss’s piece the idea of the telephone poles are both a symbol and a metaphor. The telephone poles are a symbol because they portray something “bad” but also “good” , but they are also a metaphor because the author compares them to the murders of African American humans.
  4. After doing some research on Biss I found some interesting things. I found that she is a cacasion female who has been known to write about this type of stuff. After finding these things out about her It doesn’t technically change my perception of the essay because just because she’s not African American doesn’t mean that her connections and points aren’t valid. She obviously doesn’t have first hand experience with racism but she did grow up in Illinois and Iowa, which is known to have had racism in the past, so she could have seen it. In that case, i believe she has a right to write about this type of deep concept because just because she hasn’t experienced this type of attack doesn’t mean she hasn’t seen it with her own eyes.
  5. The last sentence in this essay was a strong form of imagery. It had shown that after all this hell with the connection between telephone poles and the murders of Afican American’s had a bright outcome. It aloud the reader to see even after all the history and past with telephone poles and murders there still was a beautiful outcome. Today we have telephone poles and we see them as a great thing rather than a horrific part of history.

Intro/Conclusion Analysis


After reading both essays, “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace and “Is Empathy Overrated?” by Paul Bloom, I can honestly say i’ve been affected by both. “This is Water” was a commencement speech given by Wallace where he went into detail about how us humans go through life in a “default setting”, as well as going into his beliefs on college education. On the other hand “ Is Empathy Overrated”, Bloom argues that empathy is a powerful tool with many pathways off it, but if used wrong can cloud our morals. To me empathy is the ability to understand and fully process someone else’s feelings and thoughts and arrange them in a way you can correlate a response. David Foster Wallace’s theories have an important message to them especially for college students currently, If I was to make changes to my life I would encourage his theories on the default setting, choice and thinking, and awareness. These conclusions, which Wallace endorses in “This is Water”, adds weight to my argument that there is more than one road in life, meaning that there is not a set path that you are expected to take, you shouldn’t settle for the first one you find. Life is a concept that is seen in today’s society as something with a bunch of rules and how you should follow those steps to be successful in life. I believe these rules and steps given are very mainstream, there’s way too many doors to unlock.

  • I believe the strengths of my introduction paragraph from my second essay include things such as structure as well as adding a good amount of my own voice throughout the paragraph. Some weaknesses I could point out would include going a little deeper into my claims rather than having them so vague. Some things that I improved in this section was adding more detail to what I’ve said as well as connecting the pieces together more thoroughly. I believe my thesis is pretty strong due to the fact that it is noticeable in my writing as well as allowing my voice to come through .


Both pieces by David Foster Wallace and Pual Bloom have left me with a different perspective on life then I did before. The perspectives that Wallace has allowed my eyes to open to is being able to see the different sides of life and how our decisions play a role into being able to claimit. It has given me a chance to realize the ways life can be functioned and processed rather than green-lighting it through. David Foster Wallace’s theories have an important message to them especially for college students currently, If I was to make changes to my life I would encourage his theories on the default setting, choice and thinking, and awareness. There’s two sides to everything spoken in both pieces and I see both sides but overall I’d stand with what David Foster Wallace says about life itself. I agree with some of the things provided by Bloom to an extent because I still believe there is room in life where empathy plays an important role, rather than having empathy seen as something bad all the time. In the end, I support the idea of fixing your own life and making it yours in any way possible, life is precious and it shouldn’t be something seen as a set storyline with no change, but as something that has a breakable barrier for growth.

  • In my opinion, I believe my thesis statement connects and returns quite nicely into my conclusion. I believe I incorporate it into the paragraph in a different way and in a different format than when I first started it. My conclusions always could use some work, so I’d say my conclusion is a little rushed. I definitely could’ve added a little more to this paragraph, allowing myself to extend out a little more.

Cadogan Reading Response

Cameron Capachietti


After reading “Walking While Black” it has left me baffled in ways I didn’t know where possible. This piece was a very powerful and strong fight to show how the world is and how it needs to change.  My initial reaction was to be filled with empathy, as we learned from Pual Bloom and his points on empathy and how they come with consequences. This is the correct time and place to give someone empathy especially in a situation where there’s nothing being done wrong or it’s out of their control. This piece not only connects to the African American audience reading but it connects globally, this epidemic is something that has been an ongoing issue for as long as most of us can remember. Once I finished reading the whole essay there was a bunch or sections in his writing that stuck out to me the most, the author said “I could be invisible in Jamaica in a way I can’t be invisible in the United States’ ‘ . This is one of my favorite statements from the writing because it is short and simple but has such a powerful and deep meaning behind it, it allows the reader to really understand the issue. Another section I seem to be intrigued at is when the author talked about how he believed the streets in Jamaica were so much more dangerous than the streets of New Orleans, and then later on describes how his views changed once he realized it was because of the color of his skin. The author described that “New Orleans suddenly felt more dangerous than Jamaica. The sidewalk was a minefield, and every hesitation and self-censored compensation reduced my dignity”. My final reaction to this essay is that I enjoyed how strong the author’s voice was throughout the whole entire essay. In class, we have learned how to incorporate our own voice into our writing and now after reading this piece I see how powerful your voice can be. 

Essay 2 Self Reflection

Cameron Capachietti


  1. In my opinion, the most noticeable strength of my second essay would most definitely be the amount of voice I structured into my essay. I thought my voice was the strongest part of my essay because it allowed me to show my views and opinion on the topic we were required to write about. Especially my voice on “This is Water” and how I related to it. My most glaring weakness of my second essay would probably be putting both pieces in conversation with each other, there definitely can be some room for strengthening that connection.
  2. The most helpful bit of feedback I received from both my classmates and my Professor was the feedback of making sure my claims were strong and focused rather than being vague and unexplained. Another helpful piece of feedback was to go further into what I was saying and explain it a little more.
  3. The revision process from essay 1 to essay 2 was greatly different. In essay 1 I wasn’t all that familiar to peer reviewing so I just focused on the most important parts. In essay 2 my peer reviewing skills increased greatly. It allowed me to go further into my work and not only just focus on the important parts but the small things as well. One strength would definitely be adding my voice in more places in my work and a weakness would probably finding the spots that needed to be fixed more the second time.
  4. The aspect of essay composition I’d like to spend more class-time on is putting texts in conversation with each other and making that connection strongly, rather than vaguely doing so. I believe this will make my writing stronger.
  5.  A strong claim from my essay would be “On the other hand, Wallace  steers away from the idea of empathy or “virtues” but still touches upon it. Wallace states “But please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to preach to you about compassion or other-directedness or the so-called “virtues.” This is not a matter of virtue — it’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default-setting…” (Wallace 2005). I believe this is a strong claim because it relates to both pieces and allows the reader to see my views but the authors as well.

Barclay Paragraph Practice

[C1] Both the speech “This is Water ” by David Foster Wallace and the essay “ Empathy is Overrated” by Paul Bloom share a common ground and that’s the darkness they both portray in their words. [I] Wallace goes into detail about adult life and [Q1] he states “ how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out” ( Wallace pg 5). [E] This quote from Wallace is showing to the reader that most people live a day to day life with one factory setting when they get to adulthood. It shows that many don’t see the other opportunities and other paths a life can have. [T] Bloom’s analysis on empathy plays an important role into the darker thought process both essays possess. [Q2] Bloom later states in his essay “ Actually, in the year of the Sandy Hook killings, more schoolchildren were murdered in one American city — Chicago — than were murdered in Newtown, and yet I’ve never thought about those murdered Chicago children before looking up that figure, and I’m not likely to think about them again . . . while my mind often drifts back to Newtown” (Bloom 2017). [CE] Both these quotes from both Wallace and Bloom play a role in each other and also show a connection to the deeper meaning. Both authors use humor and a darkness to their words that not only allows their point to stick out , but also to get their points across. They use the tactic of using the reader’s emotions to provide explanations to their claims so it keeps the reader reading , sort of like in a persuasive way.

Blooms Reading Response

After thoroughly reading the piece “ Empathy is Overrated” by Paul Bloom I am left with mixed emotions too what he provides in his essay. My initial response to his essay was that Bloom used very vulgar and aggressive examples for when he provided explanations for his claims. There’s a benefit and downfall to this tho, it could offend some readers but it also helps get the point across to the reader and allows the claim to stick out in the reading. An example of the hard edged explanations given by Bloom was “The murders of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012” (Bloom). Or even the topic he brings up such as “Intellectually, a white American might believe that a black person matters just as much as a white person, but he or she will typically find it a lot easier to empathize with the plight of the latter than the former” (Bloom).

This essay was about how empathy played into daily life, and how it could change who we are and our views. The essay goes into how empathy is narrow, biased and insensitive, leaving the reader with a strong initial response. Bloom stated that “…empathy spotlights have a narrow focus…spotlights only illuminate what they are pointed at, so empathy reflects our biases… is limited as well in that it focuses on specific individuals” (Bloom). In my opinion, like I said I believe that the author’s main three claims about empathy was that it is narrow, biased, and insensitive. This essay interacts with the other essay we read “ This is Water” because they both have a darker side of writing and thinking so they might have different ideas but they have similar writing styles.