finish reading and essay 1

Essay 1 – Family


This week, we are thinking about “ideal” families and reading about how Americans frequently compare their own families to these ideals. Soto recounts childhood memories of his own family, and Carbone and Cahn present a more academic study of how family and marriage now mean different things for different social groups.


Leo Tolstoy (a Russian novelist) wrote that all happy families are alike, but that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Taking into account your own experience and the two articles we read this week, write an essay that explains what makes a family happy or unhappy.


  • Minimum of 1000 words.
  • In your essay, reference these three sources with quotes and summary:
    • your personal experience (which can be about your own family, or about other families you have observed)
    • Carbone and Cahn
    • Soto
  • Include an introduction, focused body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • Do not worry about including a Works Cited page, but be sure to include in-text citations. See the example below.


  • It is important to stay focused in this essay. Choose one aspect of family life to focus on. For example, if you think stable relationships make for happy families, write an essay that focuses just on that. If you think that high parental expectations make for unhappy families, focus on that.
  • Include not only quotes from the two articles, but also include some summary of the key points you’re referencing.
  • Be sure to use what you have learned about theses and TEAL paragraphs.
  • Use evidence and examples from the text and your experience to support your ideas.
  • Here is an example of how you might use evidence to support your ideas. This is a body paragraph:

Happiness is not about having a “perfect’ family. In Gary Soto’s story “Looking for Work,” the narrator compares his Mexican-American family to the middle class white family in the television show Leave it to Beaver. Unlike in his family, the kids in that fictitious family “hopped into bed with kisses and woke to glasses of fresh orange juice and to a father sitting before his morning coffee while the mother buttered his toast” (22). It is clear that the narrator’s family is not like this, as he is painfully aware, but still he is loved. We see his mother’s love when she pushes him to go outside at the end of the story: “‘It’s still light,’ she said. ‘Later you’ll bug me to let you stay out longer. So go on'” (24). The narrator’s mother loves him, and that is what makes his a happy family.

My family also did not look like Leave it to Beaver, but our love for each other made us happy….

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