Evicted Response

In Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, he reveals what the lives of tenants and residents in extremely poor areas are like. He does this through ethnographic research when he dives into the culture of Milwaukee trailer parks and rooming houses and experiences first-hand what it is like for those that live in this society. Although he chose to centralize his research in Milwaukee, the issues he highlights are all over America and this is important to recognize when dissecting his literature. He follows the lives of residents and tenants to show the two major sides at play here. This gives a more in depth look at what the culture of the evictors and those evicted is like. In this book, the research presented shocks readers with its stories as well as its blunt facts. Just as readers begin to become invested in a person’s story, he pulls away and presents general facts to keep readers focused on the evidence and argument without getting lost in the content. Desmond uses the evicted community as a lens to portray the economic corruption and inequality that so many face while showing that it is with personal experience when researching that allows for an accurate and vivid depiction of what is being studied.

One thing that Desmond was very successful in doing when writing Evicted is presenting his evidence in a non-bias manner. This technique is extremely difficult to master when writing a book like this because so much of the content is emotional. This can make “evidence” seem more like a debatable observation to readers if it is not presented correctly. Although Desmond was personally involved in his research due to the fact that he joined the culture to observe it, he did not let that cloud his argument. He did not shove all of his own opinions down readers’ throats to make his point. Instead, he wrote about what he saw and let the stories speak for themselves. The reason this is so crucial to the book’s validity is because without an objective voice, the readers would have a hard time trusting what the author has to say. This proves why the combination of ethos, pathos, and logos is so vital to a piece of literature’s success.

Another skill Desmond uses to ensure his argument and evidence is understood by the reader is he goes back and forth between personal and broad accounts and experiences. For example, he goes into detail about a woman named Crystal’s hardships and the many 911 calls made on her behalf and then just as readers get really invested, he shifts the narrative. He then fires off facts like, “The third most common nuisance activity was domestic violence.” (Desmond 191). Doing this is  necessary because the topic is so heartbreaking and shocking for most of the readers that it can be difficult to separate the horrific events of one person to being a countrywide issue that many face. When a reader gets lost in a story, events become more narrowed and less big-picture. By pulling out of the stories and then switching to general facts, the readers are able to grasp the argument Desmond is making while connecting it to the personal experiences he observes in his research. Had he not styled his writing like this, his argument may not have been recognized and things would have seemed a lot more fictional than fact based.

Evicted is a very strong piece of literature with an even stronger message. It reveals the hardships that so many go through yet that go unnoticed by the vast majority as a serious issue. It exposes how eviction and the entire subculture is struggling and how it is actually perpetuating the very same economic issues that force the subculture into existence. All of what is presented is done in a way that reader’s can trust and form their own opinions about. Desmond gives bursts of personal experiences sprinkled with hard cold facts to allow the audience to become invested with the material without getting lost in it. This book, as most ethnographic research books do, allows personal encounters to become reliable information and it is a book that many readers would be able to read, understand, and connect to.

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