Essay Writing Research

A research paper is generally defined by college instructors as an essay which requires the writer to find and synthesize outside sources to back up a thesis (which may be argumentative or merely informative). These outside sources may include books; articles from journals, newspapers or magazines; information from credible websites and databases; personal interviews; or even songs; films; or political cartoons.

The keys to writing a good research paper are 1) finding credible sources relevant to your topic, 2) incorporating the sources into your paper smoothly, and in a way that supports your paper’s purpose, and 3) citing and documenting your sources appropriately and correctly so that your reader could go back and check them if he or she has questions or doubts. Your instructor may specify how he or she would like you to cite your sources (for example, MLA format or APA format), or your instructor may leave that choice up to you, with the provision that you follow some type of conventional academic format and avoid plagiarism.

The Chabot Library has plenty of resources to help you cite your sources correctly, and Chabot librarians are excellent guides in helping you identify sources that are credible (that is, trustworthy) and which will be useful to you in writing your paper.


English 1A
Research Paper

Assignment: After substantial research, make an argument concerning what should be done to resolve a specific conflict between the cultural or religious traditions or values of a particular community, and the rules and expectations of the larger Anglo/Christian dominated American society. The conflict could occur in connection with medicine, transportation, education, the legal system, penal system, or another area that interests you.

[Instructor comments appear in bold, italic font within brackets below.]

The Need For Cultural Sensitivity

In the nonfiction text The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman brings to light the conflicts between a Hmong family’s cultural beliefs, and that of the traditional western medical beliefs of the American doctors they come into contact with. The cultural barriers between the two groups prevent any positive outcome in the health care of the Hmong family’s youngest daughter, Lia. This unfortunately results in a tragic end to the young girl’s life. Fadiman does not blame anyone for the unfortunate events that occur; after all, there is no one to blame. Each was only doing what they believed was best for the young Hmong girl. It was the lack of communication and understanding of what those beliefs were, that helped destroy any hope of providing effective health care for the Hmong child. This is not an isolated case that just happened in the small town of Merced, California. [Good way to use the text we read in class as a springboard into your subject and argument.] It is a prevalent problem all over the world. It stems from the lack of cultural sensitivity being sufficiently taught in medical school. [Strong claim – a good thesis statement.] Teaching medical students how to be culturally sensitive is not easy in the least, but there is a tremendous need for it. The United States is a hugely diverse country, and becoming ever more so by the decades. There are cultures from all over the world in the United States, and these cultures carry extremely different beliefs from that of the larger Anglo/Christian American society. In the United States, the doctors are taught traditional Western medicine. The problem is, Western medicine is not accepted or practiced in all cultures, and conflicts can arise if doctors are not sensitive to others’ cultural beliefs that are different from their own. 

Not only does cultural sensitivity need to be better taught in medical school, there needs to be a lot more value put on it than there currently is. [Good topic sentence to focus the paragraph.] An article in the Medical Education journal stated that “although some medical training is beginning to prepare doctors to work in an ethnically diverse society, there is a long way to go. Research suggests many practicing clinicians are inadequately equipped to provide appropriate intercultural care” (Kai et al). Some doctors believe that there will never be enough training to better prepare them for being culturally sensitive to everyone. They say that there is not enough time in their already hectic schedules to be culturally sensitive all the time. [Nice way to introduce a counterargument, so that you may then address it or refute it.] But, doctor Michele Borgeson at the University of California San Francisco, believes that cultural sensitivity does play an extremely important and crucial part in helping to make health care more effective and appropriate for all patients, from all cultural backgrounds. In order for this to happen, there needs to be a change in the curriculum currently being taught in medical school. If the American doctors in Merced, California would have been better trained in medical school to be aware of, and sensitive to the Hmong’s cultural beliefs, the outcome of the young Hmong girl might have been different. 

What is cultural sensitivity, and why is it important in the delivery of health care? Cultural sensitivity is the respect, and the valuing of differing cultural identities. It is important because there are few places in the world where the delivery of health care takes place in mono-cultural contexts (Prideaux). The United States is continually becoming more culturally diverse. In an increasingly diverse society, doctors and medical staff must learn to value ethnic diversity in order to deliver effective health care to everyone. It would also help providers to better understand others’ beliefs to some extent [This feels a little repetitive, although I think you’re saying doctors need to not only value diversity, but be educated about it, and apply their knowledge, yes?], which would aid in building a strong doctor-patient relationship. The American Academy of Pediatrics agree that physicians need to “...take into account the beliefs, values, actions, customs, and unique health care needs of distinct population groups. Providers will thus enhance interpersonal and communication skills, thereby strengthening the physician-patient relationship....” The relationship between the doctor and the patient, including the patient’s family, is extremely important. In the case of The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down, we see that the relationship between the American doctors and the Hmong family was weak because of the lack of communication, understanding, and respect. Anne Fadiman shows the lack of communication when she stated that “Dan had no way of knowing that Foua and Nao Kao had already diagnosed their daughter’s problem as [soul loss]. Foua and Nao Kao had no way of knowing that Dan had diagnosed it as epilepsy...” (28). [Good specific example to illustrate your point.] Neither knew, because no one had bothered to ask. This may seem like a small miscommunication, but it is actually the whole reason why Lia Lee didn’t receive the optimal care she deserved, thus resulting in the tragic end of her young life. If Lia’s doctors would have had some sort of cultural sensitivity training in medical school, the relationship between the American doctors and the Lees might have been different, which would have possibly resulted in better health care for Lia.

How does one effectively teach medical students to be culturally sensitive? What some experts suggest is that in order to understand and appreciate another’s cultural beliefs and practices, students need to first look at their own cultural beliefs and practices. Professor David Prideaux states that there are at least three key elements in teaching cultural diversity: 
Students should have opportunities to discuss and reflect upon their own cultural identities. They should interact with others who will represent and explain their own differing cultural identities. Finally they should be prepared for the delivery of health services in a manner which values, respects and enhances the cultural identities of those under their care.

Training at some point, should also look critically at each student’s assumptions and attitudes about people different from themselves. This would involve teaching the students to recognize stereotyping, prejudice and racism (Kai et al). Students also need to be able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their own culture and cultural identity. When this is achieved, only then can students begin to understand that one culture is not normal or dominant, stronger or superior than the other. Most doctors agree that prejudice and racism have no place in the medical field, yet they appear frequently (Borgeson) [A specific example would help make your argument stronger here]. Only when these issues are addressed will their there be any progress in the training of cultural sensitivity in medical school.

Although medical schools seem to lack sufficient cultural sensitivity and cultural diversity training, there are some effective teaching strategies out there. [Great transition sentence. Your essay flows smoothly from paragraph to paragraph.] A nurse from Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City felt well enough prepared through the nursing school she attended. She recalls an assignment where she had to pick a culture different from her own and learn about it. She then needed to represent that culture in a skit that accurately portrayed ways in which the cultural beliefs of the group might be properly accommodated in the hospital. Nurse Jones also remembers being taught things about certain cultures’ religious beliefs, their birth and death rituals, and beliefs that might be different from her own. She claims that this helped her to be more open and more respectful to people that were different from herself. Doctor Michele Borgeson at the University of California San Francisco, also felt well prepared to handle cultural issues. She felt that there was a lot of value given to cultural sensitivity in her medical training. But, she also says that “growing up in a culturally diverse society, attending medical school at the University of Miami, doing [her] residency at the University of California San Francisco, and marrying a man of a different culture, might have something to do with [her] being culturally sensitive as well, but never the less, [she] realize[s] the importance of respecting others’ cultural beliefs when caring for [her] patients” (Borgeson). This positive aim in teaching student to be culturally sensitive is not just being done in the major metropolitan cities located in the United States. A study done at the University of Leicester Medical School in the United Kingdom, showed that most students were aware of their responsibility to consider cultural issues in caring for patients (Dogra) [Quality research – the personal interviews as well as the research study]. This is good news, and shows that the issue of delivering culturally effective health care is on the right path [The issue is on the right path? Awkward metaphor]. Had any of this training been given to the American doctors described in The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down, the delivery of the health care they gave Lia would have been different. As Fadiman explains: “All of them had spent hundreds of hours dissecting cadavers...but none of them had had a single hour of instruction in cross-cultural medicine” (61). [Great way to wrap up the paragraph, showing the significance of your argument.]

Although the cultural training that is currently being provided in some medical schools and nursing schools is effective to a certain extent, understanding a person’s culture is not enough. [Another excellent transition sentence.] An article in the Medical Education journal stated, “Although many curricula may include some reference to culture, few training programs appear to have implemented any comprehensive multicultural health care component...” (Kai et al). Cultural sensitivity needs not only to be taught in medical school, but residency training and continued medical education as well. Both Nurse Jones and Doctor Borgeson admit that issues such as stereotyping, prejudice, and racism were never addressed in their medical training. And, nothing at all is mentioned about culture in their continued education training. [Interesting] A public health nurse from Oakland, California admits that she was not prepared at all to deal with people from other cultures that were different from her own. She found it very hard to be culturally sensitive at first. She assumed that the people she was going to serve in her community would accept the care she had been taught to give them (Quinn).

Students also need to realize that an individual’s idea of what his or her culture is might not be the same as the cultural group’s idea; therefore addressing the patient as an individual is very important. Medical staff should encourage patients to describe their cultural characteristics and health beliefs during encounters. This is exactly what the doctors in The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down did not do. Fadiman explains that the reason why the doctors never asked the Hmong how they treated their illnesses was because the Hmong dressed in American clothes and had driver’s licenses (112). Assuming what the patient’s cultural beliefs are, based on the way they dress, how they live, or how they appear to be, is stereotyping, and can lead to ineffective health care for the patient. It is very clear that there needs to be much more done in training students how to be culturally sensitive than what is currently being done in medical school today, especially if doctors and health professionals recognize the fact that being culturally sensitive has a positive effect on the patient’s outcome.

Although some doctors and health care professionals realize that being culturally sensitive is important in the delivery of health care, most say it’s not as easy as it sounds. [Good – you’re returning to an opposing argument to address it fully.] There are many reasons why medical schools are hesitant in teaching medical students to be culturally sensitive. Medical schools argue that integrating cultural sensitivity into an already over packed curriculum is going to be a challenge in itself. Doctor Borgeson says that “doctors that practice Western medicine are taught in medical school that figuring out the cause of the illness, which is always biological, is their number one priority.” Doctors usually don’t have the extra time in their hectic schedules to learn about a person’s cultural beliefs. As it is, doctors only have fifteen minutes to: gather information on the patient’s medical history, diagnose the patient, and either give medication or come up with a treatment plan. If the patient does not speak English, a translator must be found. Language barriers often cut into precious time when trying to get to the root of a problem (Borgeson). Doctors in rural parts of America argue that their local communities have few ethnic minority groups, so the training of cultural sensitivity would be irrelevant (Kai et al). Tala Montoya, a long time nurse and nursing instructor, admits that “the current medical system in the United States is not tolerant of all cultural issues. There are laws that need to be followed here, and some of the things that are done in other cultures are considered against the law in the United States.” [As an example,] In The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down, Dr. Neil Ernst reported Lia’s parents to Child Protective Services because they were not giving Lia the prescribed medication properly, which was considered child abuse, which is against the law (58). All medical staff are required by law to report any suspicion of child abuse, or their medical license could be put in jeopardy. So, regardless of how culturally sensitive a doctor or nurse is trained to be, there are laws and values that are supported by the people that practice Western medicine in the United States. [An important paragraph – you outline all the major arguments against more cultural sensitivity training, and they’re serious arguments. Now you can counter them or concede partially, but returning to your thesis.]

Training students to become culturally sensitive is not going to be an easy task. Not only are there laws that need to be followed, but not everyone can be trained to be culturally sensitive. [Moreover,] Becoming culturally sensitive is an individual choice; no matter if it is taught in medical school or not. [Yet] Psychologists agree that although certain prejudices are hard to change, it can be done through extensive cultural and cross cultural training (Spector). One problem is, doctors usually assume that the patient has come to their hospital to seek their advice, and that the patient will automatically agree with the diagnosis and treatment plan the doctor prescribes. In The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down, Fadiman explains that young doctors are frustrated by the lack of acceptance of Western medicine by the Hmong. Doctors have been taught in medical school that Western medicine is the only legitimate way to care for health problems (76). But, doctors need to understand that Western medicine is a culture in itself. How can other cultures be expected to respect the beliefs of Western medicine if the doctors of Western medicine don’t respect other cultures? There needs to be some sort of compromise. Like the obstetrician in The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down says: “Sometimes you can find middle ground and try to understand where they are coming from, which is hard, but not impossible” (75). Dr. Borgeson says that “becoming culturally sensitive takes time and experience in the health care field. Over time you begin to realize that there isn’t just one way of doing things, and if you value your career as a doctor, you’ll realize that really quickly.”

In an increasingly diverse society doctors must learn to value and respect others’ cultural belief systems. This will allow them to deliver the most effective health care possible. Medical students need to accept that as future doctors they have a responsibility to be aware and respectful of their patients’ cultural beliefs. Teaching students the importance of being culturally sensitive when caring for their patients is a crucial step in helping them provide effective health care for everyone, regardless of their differing cultural identities. Culturally effective health care must also be integrated into all levels of medical training: both the curricular and clinical phases of medical school, residency training, and in continuing medical education. The lack of cultural sensitivity being taught in medical schools is the reason why there isn’t effective health care for people that have cultural beliefs different from that of the more dominant American society. Some in the medical field feel that there will never be enough training to better prepare them for the issues that surround differing cultural beliefs [Or, apparently, that training doesn’t help, or that there isn’t time to apply their training, or other training is higher priority…]. Others have a more optimistic out look, and are doing everything they can to change the current curriculum in medical schools and nursing schools around the world. An article in the Medical Education journal stated, “Change is needed in medical education. Gradual change is preferable to radical change, because it allows the medical schools to see the success in a series of small changes” (Kai et al). Although this will not be an easy road, and will take time for the training to show an impact in the delivery of health care, we can see that now is the time for change. Now is the time to begin providing culturally effective health care for everyone. Hopefully after this is achieved, there will be no more tragic cases like that of Lia Lee.

Works Cited

American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Pediatric Workforce. “Culturally 
Effective Pediatric Care: Education and Training Issues.” Pediatrics 103 (1999):167-170 Ebsco Host Academic Search Elite. Chabot College Lib., Hayward, Ca. 30 Oct. 2003 <>

Borgeson,Michele MD, University of California San Francisco. Personal Interview. 4 Nov. 2003
Dogra, Nisha., and David Stretch. “Developing a questionnaire to assess student awareness of the need to be culturally aware in clinical practice.” Medical Teacher 23 (2001) 59-64. Ebsco Host Academic Search Elite. Chabot College Lib., Hayward, Ca. 30 Oct. 2003 <>

Fadiman, Anne The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down. New York: Farrar, Straus 
and Giroux, 1997.

Jones, Marcy L. Nurse, Sequoia Hospital. Personal Interview. 28 Oct. 2003
Kai, Joe, et al. “Learning to value ethnic diversity-what, why, and how? Medical Education 33 (1999)616-623 Ebsco Host Academic Search Elite. Chabot College Lib., Hayward, Ca. 30 Oct. 2003 <>

Montoya, Tala Nursing Instructor, College of San Mateo. Personal Interview. 1 Nov. 03.

Prideaux, David. “Cultural identity and representing culture in medical education. Who does it?” Medical Education 35 (2001): 186-187 Ebsco Host Academic Search Elite. Chabot College Lib., Hayward,Ca. 30 Oct. 2003<>

Quinn, Julianna Public Health Nurse, Alameda County. Personal Interview. 10 Nov. 2003.

Spector, Rachel E. Cultural Diversity in Health and Illness. 4th ed. Stamford: Appleton and Lange, 1996

Instructor end comment:

[An impressive, thoughtful paper! Your research is excellent, and while you can’t expect to answer all the problems of Western Medicine in one paper, you make a strong case for the value of improving cultural sensitivity training in medical education. Your paper is exceptionally well organized, and you weave examples from our class text in beautifully with your evidence from other sources. I really enjoyed reading this.]

** Minor mechanical errors/typos have been corrected by the creators of CHARLIE

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English 4
Literary Analysis/ Research-based (drama)

Assignment: Focus on a formal element of one of the texts we’ve read this semester (such as characters, p.o.v., symbolism or setting), to analyze the element’s contribution to a greater theme of the text. To inform your analysis, research relevant literary criticism on the text.

[Instructor comments appear in bold, italic font within brackets below.]

The Power of Things

As children grow, they can become attached to certain items, such as security blankets, teddy bears, and favorite toys. As those children grow into adults, they do not realize that these items can have power over them. Within all of us are memories attached to certain items that evoke emotions. Throughout the play, Death of a Salesman, by author Arthur Miller, he makes reference to items that have symbolic power over the Loman family. This type of power is demonstrated through the use of cars, silk stockings, and a rubber hose, which seem to evoke feelings of pride, shame, guilt, status, and denial in the various family members. It seems that the more the Lomans try to hide their feelings regarding these items, the more the items haunt them. Each symbol seems to go deeper than what is portrayed in the play. [You can trust your analysis and take out the word “seems” in the last few sentences, but you’ve got a good specific topic to explore]

Each person within the Loman family has a different interpretation of what the items mean to them. For example, the silk stockings represent both shame and guilt. The car represents family closeness, status, pride, freedom, and escape. The rubber hose represents both secrets and lies. The fact that Willy hid the hose behind the water heater makes it even more powerful. Linda is ashamed to face the fact that Willy is suicidal; [when she does reveal the hidden device,] Biff is outraged, and Happy is shocked. This is a good example of the power that things have over people, and how the perception of each person is different. When the final climax of the story is reached, it is the rubber house that becomes the main focus of the truth. By focusing on the many connotations that come with using symbolism, you can see how each item helps to support the story regarding secrets, lies, and deceitful behavior of everyone in the Loman family.

Cars can symbolize family and togetherness. Since Willy grew up without a father, he feels an empty void in his life. Steven R. Centola, author of “Family Values in Death of a Salesman” writes, “Abandoned at an early age by his father, Willy has tried all of his life to compensate for his painful loss.” Ben reminds Willy how their father, a successful traveling salesman, was able to sell his homemade flutes across the country. This creates an illusion of a close-knit family that Willy misses. Ben says, “We would start in Boston, and he’d toss the whole family into the wagon, and them drive the team right across the country” (49). Willy sees a car as a means of bringing the family together. [Well put.] After a hard day on the road, Willy reminiscences back to the days when Biff used to look up to him by waxing his car. In a conversation with himself, Willy says, “Remember those days? The way Biff used to simonize that car? The dealer refused to believe there was eighty thousand miles on it” (19). Many men take pride in owning a well-maintained car, and Willy felt successful, loved and respected by his teenaged sons because they obeyed him. As Willy continues his conversation with himself, Willy says, “I been wondering why you polish the car so careful. HA! Don’t leave the hubcaps. Happy use the newspaper on the windows, it’s the easiest thing. Show him how to do it Biff!” (28). Willy also tells his sons that one day he will take them on the road. Willy says, “I’ll show you all the towns. America is full of beautiful towns and fine upstanding people. And they know me boys, they know me up and down New England” (31). Willy and his sons enjoy each other’s company, and all of this is wrapped up in Willy’s image of his family car.

Willy also uses his car to symbolize status and success. When Willy travels from town to town, he brags to his sons about the importance of his status in New England towns. Willy says, “I can park my car in any street in New England and the cops protect it like their own” (31). Willy tries to give the impression that he has gained status and respect when he travels. He is using his car as a symbol of his success as a salesman. In reality, sales are down, vendors ignore him, and his car is falling apart along with his life. [Good observation!] Willy fails to take responsibility for his current condition, and chooses to blame others for his state of affairs. For example, Willy likes to own nice cars, but hates to pay for maintenance. When Linda tells Willy that he owes Frank money for the carburetor, Willy says, “I’m not going to pay that man! That goddam Chevrolet, they ought to prohibit the manufacture of that car!” (36). Willy wants to feel like a success, but he fails to pay the price to earn it. Willy is denying the fact that he cannot fix the car himself, nor can he maintain his status as a successful businessman. In shame, he blames the car to deflect blame from himself. 

[Transition? “Even in the beginning of the play,”] Willy is starting to realize that he is losing control over his car and his life. Willy is starts to lose control of his senses while driving. When Linda asked what is wrong, Willy says, “Suddenly I realize that I’m goin’ sixty miles an hour and I don’t remember the last five minutes, I can’t seem to-keep my mind to it” (13). Willy is trying to find a way to escape his life. Willy says, “I was observing the scenery. It’s so beautiful up there. The trees are so thick, and the sun is warm. I opened the windshield and just let the warm air bathe over me. I absolutely forgot I was driving” (14). Linda tries to downplay her concerns by blaming exhaustion as the reason behind Willy’s daydreaming. Willy feels like he has no control over his life. He feels trapped without air, sunshine, or space. [Exactly so! Like the seeds he plants, he can’t thrive, or even survive.] Willy says, “The street is lined with cars. There’s not a breath of fresh air in the neighborhood” (17). To many people, cars represent freedom, adventure, open space, and control over a powerful machine. When Willy starts to lose control over his car, his whole life starts a downward spiral into a world where the only way out is to use his car for his final escape from his guilt, shame and failure. As his life spins out of control, Willy makes an attempt to regain control by using his car to make a point.

Willy’s use of his car to commit suicide is a last means of being in control. Willy kills himself in order to maintain the illusion that he has sacrificed himself to give Biff the money to fulfill his dream. Fred Ribkoff, author of “Shame., Guilt, Empathy, and the Search for Identity in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman” writes, “Driven by shame, he kills himself in order to preserve his dream of being ‘well liked’ and a successful father and salesman.” Willy felt that since it was his decision to end his life, he had gained control over his guilt and shame. [Ironically, he believes he can “gain control” by deliberately losing control of the car!]

Another symbol that takes over the family is the silk stockings in the story that represent guilt and shame between Willy and Linda. The silk stockings represent Willy’s failure to be able to provide his wife, Linda, with the things she desires. He is reminded of his inadequacy when he finds Linda sewing her silk stockings. Centola writes, “Financial prosperity is simply the visible sign that he is a good provider for his family.” Willy says, “What’s that?” Linda says, “Just mending my stockings. They’re so expensive.” Willy says, “I won’t have you mending stocking in this house! Now throw them out!” (39). Willy is reminded that he cannot afford to buy her silk stockings. Linda hides the silk stockings in her pocket only to bring them out later in the play as she continues to sew them (75). Linda feels shamed that she has to sew her torn stockings and feels guilty defying Willy by not throwing the stockings away. This clearly shows the contrast on how Willy sees women. He does not see his wife as a woman who has the right to feel sexy. He looks at her as his savior/saint. Willy says, “You’re my foundation and my support, Linda” (18). Meanwhile Willy had an affair with a woman and paid her for sex with silk stockings. [This is a strong analysis] L.M. Domina, author of “Overview in Drama for Students” writes, “In contrast to Linda, who frequently appears with stockings that need mending, this other woman receives gifts of expensive stockings from Willy.” ‘The Woman’ that Willy had an affair with makes him feel more like a man, by telling him what he wants to hear. The Woman says, “I’ll put you right through to the buyers” (39). Willy pays her to boost his ego with of a box of silk stockings. Ribkoff writes, “The woman makes him feel that he is an important salesman and powerful man.” Willy tries to use the silk stockings as a means of obtaining status with The Woman, but instead it becomes an object of betrayal when Biff finds out.

When Biff sees his father give away his mother’s silk stockings, he feels betrayed. When he catches his father, Biff says, “You gave her Mama’s stockings. You fake! You phony little fake! (121). Biff feels that everything his father has ever taught him is a lie. Domina writes, “The trust Biff had given Willy now seems misplaced. Yet, Biff shares this knowledge with no one; instead this secret becomes the controlling element of his own life.” He loses faith in himself, his dream, and the drive to be a success. From that day forward, Biff and Willy would never talk about their shame and guilt and how it slowly eats away at their daily life. [Good tie back to your thesis.]

[Again, place a transition word or phrase to direct the reader: “Similarly,”] The rubber hose eats away at the daily lives of the Lomans, because no one wants to confront Willy about it. When Linda finds the rubber hose hidden behind the water heater, she becomes terrified. Linda tells her sons, "I was looking for a fuse. The lights blew out, and I went down to the cellar. And behind the fuse box- it happened to fall out- was a length of rubber pipe-just short. There is a little attachment at the end of it. I knew right away. And sure enough on the bottom of the water heater there a new little nipple on the gas pipe” (59).

Linda feels ashamed that she cannot bring herself to confront Willy about the hose. She goes down to the cellar and removes the pipe, then puts it back before he gets home. She feels that she would be insulting Willy if he knew about her discovery (60). The rubber hose represents all of the lies, shame and deceit that the whole family has been involved in. Louis Charles Stagg, author of “Death of a Salesman: Overview in the Reference Guide to American Literature” writes, “Willy appears to see death as a means of avoiding the consequences of actions with which he can no longer cope.” Linda is supporting his belief by ignoring the fact that she knows what he is planning. Domina writes, This secret is hence ironically acknowledged by everyone except the one whose secret it is—Willy. When he does finally succeed in killing himself, his act can be interpreted as a culmination of secrets, secrets which are compounded through lies, because they have been created through lies.

Linda thinks that Willy has come to his senses because the pipe was missing. In a conversation with Biff Linda says, "You know that little rubber pipe I told you about? I finally decided to go down to the cellar this morning and take it away and destroy it. But it’s gone! Imagine? He took it away himself" (75).

Linda refuses to believe that Willy is going to kill himself. When Biff tells her that he removed the pipe, she is disappointed [that Willy didn’t remove it], but relieved. In the phone conversation with Biff, Linda says, “I’m not afraid anymore” (76). Linda has chosen to forget about the intentional car accidents of the past. Centola writes, “Without knowing it, Willy cries out for help and denounces the lie that has destroyed his family.”

In his last effort to regain his dignity, Willy discovers the importance of his family and the lie that he has lived. Because the family has been lying to each other for years, the rubber hose brings the truth right into their living room when Biff lays the hose down on the table. Willy tries to pretend he doesn’t know what it is. Domina writes, “This inability to acknowledge the truth affects the family on many levels but most particularly in terms of their intimacy with one another and their intimate relationships with others.” Biff is tired of being blamed for the failures of the family. Biff finally comes to realize that he cannot live his father’s dream. With the revelation of the rubber hose, all of the secrets and lies that Willy has been feeding the family spill out in Biff’s anger. Biff says, “We never told the truth for ten minutes in this house” (131). Biff reminds his father that he is a loser and to stop believing in his dream that he is going to save the family. Biff says, “I’m not bringing home any prizes any more, you’re going to stop waiting for me to bring them home” (132). When Biff breaks down, Willy realizes that Biff always loved him, but Willy refuses to accept Biff’s truth. Centola writes, “Seeing his failure reflected in the lives of his sons further intensifies Willy’s guilt and hastens his decline.” Willy sees no other way out. Centola writes, “He convinces himself that only his death can restore his prominence in his family’s eyes and retrieve for him his lost sense of honor.” Willy fails to see that his illusion of success was a lie, even when Biff confronts him with the truth. When Willy felt that he had gained back a part of Biff that was lost, he wanted Biff to hold on to that and remember him under those terms. Willy felt that the only way that that could be accomplished was to take his life on his terms, gaining control, respect and the love that he felt he always deserved.

Everyone has secrets, lies, and deceits that are hidden within. It is only when those hidden feelings start to cause self destructive behaviors and hurt others, that we must take a closer look at what it is that we are searching for in order to fill the void in our lives, instead of hiding behind denial and making up lies. In Death of a Salesman, Miller takes a no holds barred approach in exposing what many believe to be the image of success that is created through lies. I have used examples of symbolism to focus on how a pair of silk stockings, cars and a rubber hose can remind us of things that Willy needed to face. [Great recap of your main points] In his failure to deny any responsibility for his actions, he created a certain type of Hell within his mind. When the door was broken down by Biff’s confrontation, he began to see the impact that his lies had created. Rather than confront these lies, he took his own life!

How can anything in your life make you feel successful if you have to lie about it? Each one of us must search within ourselves and define what success means to us. It is in truth that we shall find our greatest happiness. [A powerful paper!]

Works Cited

Centola, Steven R. “Family Values in Death of a Salesman” CLA Journal 37, No. 1 September 1993 pg. 29-41. Literary Resource Center. Chabot College Library, Hayward, CA 27 November 2004

Domina, L.M.. “An overview of Death of a Salesman.” Drama for Students, Gale, 1997. Literary Resource Center. Chabot College Library, Hayward, CA 8 November 2004

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: Murray Printing, 1973.

Ribcoff, Fred. “Shame, Guilt, and the Search for Identity in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.” Modern Drama, Spring 2003 V43: p48. Literary Resource Center. Chabot College Library, Hayward, CA 2 November 2004
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Stagg, Louis Charles. “Death of a Salesman: Overview.” Reference Guide to American Literature, 3rd ed. St James Press, 1994. Literary Resource Center. Chabot College Library, Hayward, CA 27 November 2004 

Instructor end comment:

[Great work. Your research is thoughtfully woven in and your analysis is top-notch. You do have a couple of rough transitions and I question one or two of your statements, but these are minor criticisms. This is a very strong, well-developed, analytical paper.]