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Step 1: Read the following passage:
On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy. It is this largess that accounts for the presence within the city's walls of a considerable section of the population; for the residents of Manhattan are to a large extent strangers who have pulled up stakes somewhere and come to town, seeking sanctuary or fulfillment or some greater or lesser grail.
—from Here is New York ©1949 by E.B. White

For a journaling assignment, students were asked to respond to the passage above. Take a look at some of their responses:

Here is David's response:
In this passage, White argues that New York is a place where you can have privacy and be left alone. Because of this, lots of people have come to New York to make a new life for themselves. I don't really understand the connection White makes in this passage. Don't people come to New York in order to meet new people? To find new jobs? Do they really come here to be left alone? The other thing that confused me about this passage was the connection he makes between loneliness and fulfillment. What does loneliness have to do with it? Most of the lonely people I know aren't very fulfilled. I know that White wrote this in 1949, but New York hasn't changed that much. When was it ever a lonely, private place? I'm confused!

Step #2: How does David respond to White's passage? Explain in the box below:

Here is Lucinda's response:
I come from a small town in Chile where everybody knew what everybody else was doing, a place where you couldn't do anything different or people would think you were crazy. I guess I am one of those people White is referring to, somebody "seeking sanctuary." I came to New York to make a new life for myself. Here I can be anyone I want to be. I don't have to worry about what I wear or do here. Nobody really cares. Nobody is going to say, "Hey, Lucinda, you can't be a singer" or "Lucinda, you should just get a good job and have a bunch of kids." There is a lot more freedom here than where I came from. I agree with White; people like me come to New York because people will leave us alone and allow us to work towards our dreams.

Step #3: How does Lucinda respond to E.B. White's passage? Explain in the box below:

Here is Dwayne's response:
Last week, our class read a short chapter from Henry James' The American Scene. Most of the chapter is about how James doesn't like New York because there isn't any privacy. Everywhere he goes, he is surrounded by crowds of people. He doesn't like the libraries because they are too public. He doesn't even like the way people's homes are designed because there aren't enough rooms where a person can go and hide away.

E.B. White is writing about New York almost fifty years after The American Scene was published and seems to think very differently from James. According to E.B. White, New York is one of the best places to find privacy. At first, it seems as if these two writers totally disagree, but, as I see it, they are just talking about two different kinds of privacy. For James, privacy means to be alone in a quiet place. For White, privacy is anonymity— not having other people poking around in your business and not having to worry about what anybody else thinks.

Step #4: How does Dwayne respond to E.B. White's passage? Explain in the box below:

Respond is a general term that can leave room for many kinds of thinking and writing activities. A response may analyze, explain, or illustrate a writer's ideas or argument. It may note connections to other readings or things discussed in class. A response may also state whether you agree or disagree with a writer or may even pose questions you have about a reading.

Have you received an assignment that asks you to respond to something? Do Your Own is a section that can help you get started.

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