Time and Distance Overcome
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Time and Distance OvercomeIn the current society, many different products which are used extensively all over the world have a long history which the majority of users are not aware of. This means that the users don’t understand which negative consequences an invention could have had during its potential long history. This issue is dealt with in the essay ”Time and Distance Overcome” by Eula Biss from 2008.The essay by Biss revolves around the invention of the practical telephone which Alexander Graham Bell was responsible for back in 1876. Biss goes on to write about two different aspects of the telephone and the belonging telephone poles. Finally, she goes on to write about her current view on the history of the telephone. The composition in the essay is quite clear as there are three parts which are very different in terms of content although they all revolve around the telephone and the telephone poles. As mentioned earlier the first part takes the invention of the telephone as its starting point. The first part of the essay depicts the initial years after the invention, which were marked by resistance against the telephone and its spreading into the everyday lives of Americans. For instance, it is seen in the text that Bell’s investors weren’t supporters of his invention. In the text it says, “Bell’s financial backers asked him not to work on his new invention anymore because it seemed too dubious an investment” (s.1, l.4). Despite the lack of support the telephone did manage to begin its spreading on a larger scale, but once again it met resistance. This time by property owners who were against the erection of the telephone poles which were a necessary companion to the telephone. In the text it says, “By 1889, The New York Times was reporting a “War on Telephone Poles.” (s.1, l.27) But in spite of the opposition towards the telephone poles, the poles and phone became widespread in all of the United States just a few years after the invention of the phone. An example of the support which the telephone ended up receiving is seen in text as it says, “Rutherford B. Hayes pronounced the installation of a telephone in the White House “one of the greatest events since creation.””. (s.2, l.61). Altogether, the first part describes how the telephone and telephone poles ultimately became accepted and widespread in the American society despite the early resistance. The beginning of the second part is very clear as the content of the texts starts to focus on a different side of the telephone and the belonging telephone poles. Biss writes about the many cases of racially motivated murders where black men were hanged from telephone poles. She goes on with the theme of invention as she writes how the act of lynching was an American invention. Biss then continues listing horrible murders which were committed against African Americans. For instance, it says in the text,” In Pine Bluff Arkansas a black man charged with kicking a white girl was hanged from a telephone pole. In Long View, Texas a black man accused of attacking a white woman was hanged from a telephone pole. In Greenville, Mississippi a black man accused of attacking a white telephone operator was hanged from a telephone pole.” (s.3, l.84). In this quote Biss also uses different rhetorical devices in order to get her message across. She uses listing with the purpose of providing the reader with multiple examples of murders which have been committed against black people all over the United States. This is done so that the reader understands that this was a common occurrence during these times. Furthermore, she uses an epistrophe as she ends the three sentences with the same words, which are “hanged from a telephone pole”. Biss uses this rhetorical device in order to make the reader aware that everything which is written in this essay has some kind of direct connection to the telephone. The second part of the text ends with Biss notifying the reader that during these times of racial wars being fought all over the United States, the telephone had evolved and spread out to the point that Alexander Graham Bell was able to make a call from New York to San Francisco before he died in 1922.Lastly, Biss provides the reader with a part where she sums up her current view on the telephone and its history. In this part she initially writes about her view on the telephone poles when she was young. She writes “When I was young, I believed that the arc and the swoop of telephone wires along the roadways were beautiful. I believed that the telephone poles, with their glass transformers catching the evening sun, were glorious.” (s.5, l.138). This quote shows the innocent view she had on the telephone poles when she was young. She admired the many different aspects of the poles such as the way they caught the sun. Immediately after though she writes, ”Now, I tell my sister, these poles, these wires do not look the same to me. Nothing is innocent, my sister reminds me. But nothing, I would like to think, remains unrepentant. (s.5, l.138). In this quote she writes about her current view on the telephone poles, which is now quite ambiguous. The reason for this is given in the parts above where she writes about the history of the telephone and the telephone poles. Here it is especially the role which the telephone poles had in the racially motivated murders, which makes it very difficult for Biss to have an innocent view on the invention. This last part also leads into the reader being able to tell the intention of the writer, as she gathers the first parts of the essay together in the final part. Here Biss tries to come across with the point that an invention such as the phone which is used heavily in today’s society has a history which is important to be aware of in order to assess the overall consequences it has had on the human population.
Time and Distance Overcome