An American Family: Rhetorical Analysis of "Searching in the Wrong Places" by Heather Koehler

Essay by swtlips2006College, UndergraduateB, January 2007

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Every person pictures a different image when it comes to the ideal "All-American Family." I believe that for every person their interpretation is different due to our culture, histories, and family life. What Heather Koehler does in the essay is collapses the belief that the "All American Family" is limited to how it is portrayed in Leave it to Beaver. Without hesitation when I am asked what the ideal family is to me I would presumably think of a family similar to the Beaver's. However, I know that this is not realistic, because I am an American and I come from a family that has had many trials and we still love each other unconditionally. Just because my mom doesn't drive a SUV and my dad doesn't work as a businessman, does not mean that we aren't an "All-American Family."

Koehler uses the continuous binary of what the true meaning of an "All-American Family" is.

She writes what people believe it is and then looks at it from a realistic point of view. She collapses the binary by stating the obvious: no family is perfect. Yes, many people want to strive to be a middle-class family that lives in a suburb, however, we would not be Americans if we did. Our individuality and differences make us a unique and diverse country. The value of an American is freedom: not the house you live in or the car you drive. A family is love: not the clothes you wear of the colleges you attend.

A second binary used by Koehler is the comparison of Leave it to Beaver to the "All-American Family." She writes her essay beginning on the discussion of the beaver family guidelines: nuclear, Caucasian, suburban homeowners, middle-class, and happily together. She collapses...