Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sample Longer Paper

Students, below appears an example of how to expand your own shorter papers into the six- to eight-page longer paper that the course requires.  In this example, which is the bare minimum allowable length for your own papers, I work from my earlier contrast paper.  The material that I bring straight over from it appears in white.  The added counter-argument appears in red.  The rebuttal is in green.  New material supporting my thesis is in blue.  Sources for each are in the Works Cited according to the color of what they support (the source for the counter-argument is red, for example).

Please note that in your own papers, you are not to color-code; I do so in the example as a teaching device, showing you how the parts fit together.  Please note also that, as with the earlier paper, the topic of the example is not one you may use.

An antagonist is anything that hinders or prevents a focal figure or focal figures from pursuing an end goal.  The household chores of doing laundry and of washing dishes both perform antagonistic functions.  Of the two, the more antagonistic is the dishwashing.

There are, admittedly, reasons to think it strange to call doing laundry and washing dishes antagonistic.  One is that having household chores to do necessitates that there is a household for which to do them, and it is certainly the case that having a household, a secure place in which to live and carry out personal and familial affairs, is an end-goal held by many.  The support of that goal would definitionally fail to be antagonistic, and since chores support that goal, they cannot be antagonistic.  Another is that household chores are honest work.  It has been held for quite some time and in several cultures that simple physical labor has a beneficial effect on those who do it.  For example, the Bhagavad-Gita reports that "Work is more excellent than idleness; / The body's life proceeds not, lacking work."  Similarly, comments about the life of St. Isidore speak to divine favor--the receipt of which is widely considered good--attending upon manual labor (World).  The idea, according to Bob Hoover, was even voiced in the inauguration of President Obama.  It becomes clear, then, that the notion of work as a good thing has substantial sanction.

Even so, "substantial sanction" is not the same thing as "total sanction" or even "prevailing sanction"; it would be folly to say that work such as washing clothes or dishes is considered good.  The contrary can, in fact, be amply demonstrated.  For instance, Mark Edmundson equates a desire to be a carpenter with "no real worldly ambitions" (57); trade labor is devalued in the equation, and household chores are not typically regarded as well as trade labor, so that to devalue trade labor necessarily also devalues household chores.  It is true that people seek to be valued, so that if household chores are devalued, those who perform them tend to be similarly devalued, and that devaluation would tend to inhibit a person's ability to pursue a specific goal, making it antagonistic.  Prevailing depictions of custodial and housekeeping staff tend to support the idea that cleaning up is not a good thing to have to do; it is oppositional to advancement, and so antagonistic.

That antagonism does manifest in doing laundry.  For example, for many in New York City and the surrounding urban sprawl, as well as in other major metropolitan areas, the chore requires an excursion to a laundry facility, which effectively prevents at-home relaxation; clothes must be gathered up and carried or carted down the street, or they must be thrown into a car and driven, both of which take time and take the laundry-doer out of the home.  As home is generally a desirable place to be, that which removes a person from home is typically antagonistic.

Even if a person lives in a building with its own laundry rooms, as is the case with many college dormitories and some apartment buildings (particularly those with higher rents and land-values), that person is obliged to remain with the laundry while it is being done, lest the clothes be stolen or thrown aside in favor of another person's wash.  In addition, then, to hindering many people's at-home relaxation--a goal common to a great many people and almost-universally regarded as a good thing--laundry day invites other persons to act as antagonists, thereby admitting the possibility of its own prevention.  This makes the task doubly antagonistic; it is a hindrance to the laundry-doer, and it inhibits others who face the task themselves, so that one load of laundry potentially serves to antagonize multiple people.

Further, laundry facilities are often expensive.  It is not uncommon for a single-load washer at a laundromat to require the insertion of a dollar to work.  It is also not uncommon for a single-load dryer to require a quarter of a dollar to work for ten minutes, and for it to take thirty minutes to dry a load of clothing, so that each load requires $1.75 to complete.  For someone who changes clothing completely each day, with a set of clothes being two undergarments, socks, pants or skirt, and shirt, one load of laundry is filled every other day, so that laundry costs some $3.50 every two days--in addition to the costs of detergent and fabric softener.  Meeting those costs has the effect of taking money away from being spent on more favored pursuits and thereby acting antagonistically financially.

For those who are fortunate enough to have washers and dryers in their homes, laundry is still antagonistic.  Because the machines are in the home, they intrude upon the home-dweller's awareness to a greater extent than does the laundromat walked by on the way to the bus stop or subway station.  That intrusion tends to inhibit enjoyment of other activities that take place in the home.  Since most such activities are regarded as desirable to undertake, that which inhibits them is antagonistic.

Also, the presence of machinery in the home opens up the possibility of mechanical malfunction in the home.  Specifically, washing machines can flood the rooms in which they sit, causing water damage to floors, walls, and other surrounding objects.  The flooding also opens up to possibility of electrical hazards, since washing machines tend to have electric motors which can short out and present electrocution hazards.  Dryers can cause fires; electric dryers can short out even as washing machines, producing sparks that can ignite flammable materials, and gas dryers always offer the potential for catastrophic gas leaks.  All are generally considered to be detrimental to the conduct of other household activities, and since those activities are typically desirable end goals, insofar as the equipment needed to do laundry inhibits them, the task is antagonistic.

Dishwashing is hardly an enjoyable task.  Since dishes become dirty primarily through use, and the use of dishes typically involves foodstuffs, dirty dishes are commonly festooned with unused food and drink.  Being largely organic, that food and drink begins to corrupt soon after it is set aside, and corrupting foodstuffs have an unfortunate tendency to stink.  Bad smells, particularly those associated with decay and corruption, are typically regarded as inhibiting enjoyment, and enjoyment is a prized end-goal of a great many people.  Washing dishes necessitates exposure to that unused food and the foul odors that soon begin to issue from it, so that it obliges the dishwasher to suffer bad smells, thereby inhibiting the dishwasher's enjoyment.  Since dishwashing tends to create a situation in which an end-goal is inhibited, it also tends to be antagonistic.

In addition, dishwashing exerts a number of physical ill-effects upon those who do it.  The aforementioned corrupting food also, as it is corrupting, invites the generation of disease and the presence of vermin such as flies, roaches, mice, and rats.  The diseases themselves, as well as those carried by the vermin, present clear hazards to human health; impaired health necessarily keeps people from doing all they would wish to do, thereby serving as an antagonist.  In addition, the vermin themselves tend to cause damage to the houses in which people live; since, as has already been noted, the home is a place of desired relaxation, it follows that damage to it restricts relaxation, thereby inhibiting the achievement of desire and serving once again as antagonist.

Also, dishwashing involves sticking one's hands into water through which one cannot see.  Knives, forks, graters, and the occasional broken glass appear among the dishes that are concealed by such water; each has sharp edges or points, and so sticking one's hands into it invites cuts, punctures, abrasions, and other injuries.  The injuries are possible even with the use of "protective" devices such as the dishwashing gloves sold at many grocery and retail stores; they are latex, and latex is easily pierced by metal or cut by sharpened steel or jagged-edged glass.  Indeed, many of the things that end up in the dishwater are specifically designed to cut, tear, pierce, or shave off things with much greater integrity than latex.  Such injuries tend to rupture the skin as well; knives and forks are designed at least in part to cut apart and poke into meat, which has at least as much strength as human flesh.  Injuries incurred by hidden pointy bits expose the dishwasher's blood to the potential diseases and vermin-waste in the dishwater--for bugs and mice excrete even as they eat, often onto the very things they seek to eat, and it is because they view it as food that they are drawn to corrupting materials.  Thus, in addition to the injuries themselves, there is an increased potential for infection of the dishwasher, with such antagonistic consequences as are noted above.

Even leaving aside such directly concrete instances of harm, washing dishes requires repetitive wrist motions.  Such repetition commonly results in carpal tunnel syndrome, as noted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which notes in addition that carpal tunnel syndrome "can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage in the hand and fingers" ("Carpal").  Each of these will prevent people from effectively performing any number of manual tasks.  Since many of the things that are enjoyed (such as playing video games, handling electronic devices, sports, cooking, eating, reading, and others) are done with the hands--and, as noted before, enjoyment is a common end-goal--that which prevents the use of the hands is necessarily antagonistic.

Similarly, the height of a sink typically requires that the dishwasher either bend over repeatedly or assume a hunched position.  This is a form of twisting, which the National Center for Biotechnology Information relates can cause chronic lower back pain ("Low").  Chronic pain, by making many activities painful that would otherwise not be, has an antagonistic function; people tend to avoid things that are painful, and causing avoidance of an activity the performance of which is otherwise desirable is very much antagonistic.  In its potential to promote such circumstances as keep people from doing things because they hurt when they ought not to do so, dishwashing has a markedly antagonistic aspect.

Worse yet, dishwashing is a frequently-necessary activity, needing to take place daily or more often.  Unless it does, the chances of stink becoming unacceptable or vermin and disease growing in the house increase immensely.  As such, each of the annoyances and inhibitions of enjoyment that it provokes happen every single day in many households; in some, it is even more frequent, taking place after each of the traditional "three square meals a day" and, from time to time, brunch or afternoon tea.  Admittedly, it may be argued that the intensity of annoyance and degree of hindrance offered by a single instance of dishwashing is equivalent to that of a single instance of doing the laundry.  Certainly, laundry does require bending and twisting and hand motions, and if it does not entail quite as much potential for direct injury as does dishwashing, it does offer opportunities for injury to occur by other means.  But because dishwashing takes place so much more frequently than doing the laundry--and laundry is commonly regarded as a weekly occurrence among household chores--the intensity and degree of dishwashing antagonism are amplified to a much greater level than is the case for laundry, making dishwashing far more of a hindrance to the focal character in people's lives--the people themselves--than caring for the linens.

In truth, it is difficult if not impossible for any one person to fully maintain a household of more than one person, so that the division of chores becomes a necessity in short order.  Certainly, among siblings and among roommates and families, much attention is paid to who does what and how hard each thing is.  Knowing which chores are most onerous, then, has a direct effect on the harmony of many households, and that harmony is a thing which ought well to be protected.

Works Cited
~"Chapter III: Of Virtue in Work." The Bhagavad-Gita. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2011.
~Edmundson, Mark. "Against Readings." Profession (2009): 56-65. Print.
~Hoover, Bob. "Inauguration Poet Praises Virtue of Work." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 24 February 2010. Web. 13 July 2011.
~National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome." PubMedHealth, 25 May 2010. Web. 13 July 2011.
~---. "Low Back Pain." PubMedHealth 10 July 2009. Web. 13 July 2011.
~World Youth Day. "Saint Isidore, a Farmer Who Found God through His Work." WYD 2011 Madrid Official Site. World Youth Day, 2011. Web. 13 July 2011.