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Activism Through Letters

Letters have been a persuasive technique to get a point across during time periods when something significant is happening in America. Through looking at letters we can see both the causes and effects they had on the senders and receivers and what, if anything, was done because of them. The language, tone, and word choice used in letters tells the reader the point trying to be made and also the importance of it. The use of writing techniques determine whether or not the letter will be effective and referenced to in the future. Letters have been written for many periods of history both in America and in the world. Some examples of effective and persuasive letters in American history include “Letter from Birmingham Jail” from the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s and letters from Frank Kameny during the gay liberation movement from the 1960s to 1980s. More recently, persuasive letters can be seen in regards to the current global Covid pandemic and the impact it has on us now and in the future. 

When trying to understand a letter, it is first important to know why it was written. One letter that stands out from the civil rights movement is “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr. The letter was written while King was in jail for violating Alabama’s law against mass public demonstrations (“Letter from Birmingham Jail”). The letter was in response to criticism about what he was trying to do  and it came from prominent white clergymen. This is a very well known letter both for the time period and in history. “It’s piece full of history but most importantly is a piece where we can witness how Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. approaches his problems and how well it worked.” (“Understanding A Letter From Birmingham Jail”). The letter was effective for many reasons. One of those reasons was because of the language King used.The use of strong language shows how important the issue is to him and could make the letter resonate with or stand out to more people. “Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their ‘thus saith the Lord’ fay beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.” (King Jr.). Religion has been and is important to many people and using this example could help him to get the support of more people. It could also help people to better understand what he is trying to accomplish. Using another example would not have been as effective because religion is something people can relate to and it’s also something that brings people together, even sometimes different groups of people. “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘wait’” (King Jr.). By comparing the progress that has occured in other countries, he is showing how far America still has to go. He is also saying that this has been a problem for too long and it’s time that something is done. King acknowledges that some people may not feel a lot of concern for this issue because it doesn’t directly affect them but he is showing that it’s a real problem and has been for a while. King goes on to explain what he has seen and what has happened as a Black person in America during this time period. It shows the readers what is really going on in hopes more people become aware of the cause he is fighting for. People of color could also relate to the situations he was describing and know they are supported and heard. 

In 1953 President Eisenhower signed an Executive Order that allowed the federal government and military to find, fire, and out people who were suspected of being homosexual (Chandler). One of these people was Frank Kameny. Kameny was an astronomer with the U.S. Army Map Service but people started to think he could be gay and he was fired for immoral conduct. He became an activist for gay rights and sent several letters explaining his argument for gay rights to the Kennedy administration. “In World War II, I willingly fought the Germans, with bullets, in order to preserve and secure my rights, freedoms, and liberties, and those of my fellow citizens. In 1961, it has, ironically, become necessary for me to fight my own government, with words, in order to achieve some of the very same rights, freedoms, and liberties for which I placed my life in jeopardy in 1945.” (Kameny). Kameny points out the contradiction of at one point fighting for his country and then at another point against his country. He tries to show what he and all the other soldiers have done for America and that it would make sense for the government to do something for its people. “The homosexuals in this country are increasingly less willing to tolerate the abuse, repression, and discrimination directed at them, both officially and unofficially, and they are beginning to stand up for their rights and freedoms as citizens no less deserving than other citizens of those rights and freedoms. They are no longer willing to accept their present status as second-class citizens and as second-class human beings; they are neither.” (Kameny). This statement from Kameny feels like an ultimatum or even a threat. It shows how important this issue is to him and the lengths he would go to stick up for his rights and the rights of many others. The use of strong language helps to get his point across. Although he was effective in making change and bringing awareness to the issue, the Executive Order from Eisenhower wasn’t fully formally repealed until January of 2017, six years after Kameny passed away (Chandler). It shows how much time it could take for a change to be made but that it will definitely take longer if no one gets involved or brings the issue to people’s attention. 

A more modern example of a persuasive letter from an important time in America comes from the pandemic. There are many examples of letters written about Covid. One example is a letter George Saunders wrote to his students. Saunders is able to use humor and lightness throughout the letter on a very worrisome and stressful topic. “Jeez, what a hard and depressing and scary time. So much suffering and anxiety everywhere. (I saw this bee happily buzzing around a flower yesterday and felt like, Moron! If you only knew!)” (Saunders). While many people don’t use humor to talk about Covid, Saunders does so in a way that people are able to relate to but that doesn’t make fun of what is currently happening. He is describing a feeling that most people can relate to and it helps to see that other people or in this case a lot of people are going through the same thing and are experiencing the same emotions. It’s relatable because we often look back to time before the pandemic and think about how we never would have expected something like this to happen. Saunders also reminds his students of the importance and uniqueness of this time and while it is very unfortunate, it will be important to remember. “…it also occurs to me that this is when the world needs our eyes and ears and minds. This has never happened before here (at least not since 1918). We are (and especially you are) the generation that is going to have to help us make sense of this and recover afterward… Are you keeping records of the e-mails and texts you’re getting, the thoughts you’re having, the way your hearts and minds are reacting to this strange new way of living? It’s all important.” (Saunders). Saunders hopes his students recognize what they are living through and how scary yet valuable this situation is. He realizes and hopes to share the importance of remembering and reflecting on life changing events. It also shows that we can use what we learn now from this experience to help us be better prepared in the future. 

Even though these letters are from different time periods, they share some similarities. One of those similarities is they use examples of past events or causes to get a point across and show that the problem they are facing is not necessarily a new issue. Martin Luther King Jr. talks about prophets of the eighth century B.C. and Apostle Paul. Although it isn’t the same issue, Frank Kameny in his letter says “The homosexual in the United States today is in much the same position as was the Negro about 1925.” (Kameny). And in the letter from George Saunders he reminds his students that although these times are unprecedented there was the 1918 pandemic. Using examples of events that have happened in the past can be helpful because it allows people to reflect on what has happened since then and if any changes, good or bad, were made. Another example of a similarity between the letters is that they are now all very public and can be used for various reasons. If these letters were not effective they would not be so well known and often referenced to. They all show what is needed to write an effective letter especially during a significant event or time period. Without these letters we probably would not have had a full understanding of what was happening during that time. They are also helpful for future generations to learn not to repeat the past wrongdoings and hopefully make more positive changes to the country. 

Effective letters use language, tone, and word choice to persuade the reader and get a point across about a specific topic. Throughout history and American history it has been seen many times that letters are used to share important information with a variety of people. These letters, especially the ones from the past, and others are important because they show people standing up for what they believe in even when it was not safe to. It also shows even now letter writing is still an important way to communicate. While letter writing isn’t always the quickest, it is able to reach all different kinds of people and places. And being able to access letters online makes it easier and more convenient. We have access to so many letters which allows us to educate ourselves for the better. Although over time the subject matter of the letters has both changed and sometimes stayed the same, the persuasiveness is what makes it have a lasting impact. Looking at letters from history we are able to see the impact for both the writer and readers now and then.

Final Weekly Writing

Over this semester I have grown a lot as a writer. One big improvement I noticed is I’m more comfortable with adding and finding quotes for papers and also making sure I’m citing everything the correct way. I’ve realized how important it is to include quotes and evidence especially when you’re trying to prove a point. Another improvement I’ve seen is in my analysis. I’ve seen that in the topics we have covered I was able to talk about them in detail without sounding too repetitive. That has always been a problem for me where I feel like I keep saying the same thing or don’t know what else to say. Something that really helped me was having Olivia in the class and being able to meet one on one. I’m usually not very comfortable sharing my writing but she helped me so much and it was nice getting help from another student at Muhlenberg. I learned a lot about the structure of writing and how not everything has to be or should be a five paragraph essay. I feel now I can be more creative with my writing because I don’t have to necessarily follow a certain format. An area to improve on is writing fiction. I found this a lot harder than writing an essay because I had to make everything up and make sure it made sense. There aren’t as many requirements for fiction as there are when you are writing about a specific real topic.

Modern Communication

This week in class we talked about letter writing in forms such as books, music, and TV shows and we also discussed aspects of modern day letter writing. One example of modern day letter writing was from an 11 year old girl who wrote to thank her mailman. It was really kind of her and I think we often take the mail people for granted but they do have an important job and it was nice of her to acknowledge that. I also find it really cool that this girl likes writing letters to people because that doesn’t seem like something a lot of people do now especially at that age. I feel like kids now and even 11 year olds really grew up with having a lot of access to and use of technology which definitely has pros and cons. Meanwhile people my age used technology but even though it wasn’t that long ago, it wasn’t as advanced as it is now where you can really do so many things using only one device. I’m wondering what made this girl become interested in letter writing. I don’t know if at that age I would have been comfortable writing to many people especially ones that I didn’t know. I think sometimes people look at workers in these types of jobs differently than they would look at someone else. I was wondering if people from my town would do this but unfortunately I think a lot of people wouldn’t want to partly because of prejudice. I know that I don’t know my mailman at home at all or really anything about him except how he looks. This article made me want to make sure I’m thanking and acknowledging people who do important jobs that we may not always think are that important. This girl is a great example for everyone. In class we also talked about hand written letters being less convenient and slower but I think we often forget that so many people actually depend on physical mail to make a living. Sending mail is keeping people in work which was definitely important during the pandemic. Talking about modern day letters has made me want to receive some because it really is meaningful to me. I’ve realized that I’m so focused on texting, email, and social media that I haven’t checked my Muhlenberg mailbox in awhile. Although I don’t think there is anything in there. I have a mailbox at home but I’m not used to having to actually go somewhere to pick up mail. At home, if we do ever get anything that’s not junk mail or for the wrong person, it’s just at the end of the driveway.

First College Thanksgiving

This week was Thanksgiving break. For Thanksgiving I usually go to my grandparents house on my moms side and it was the same this year. Although it was with my grandparents and the same members of my family it didn’t feel like it used to. I think this is in part due to the fact that this was our first Thanksgiving in my grandparents new house. I didn’t realize how much the move would affect me maybe because I didn’t think it would ever come. They had been living in their house for forty something years. It’s where my mom and her brother grew up and it’s a place me and my brother spent a lot of time at. My friends were confused as to why I was so upset about them moving even though they’ll still be close by but that place is what felt normal and constant to me throughout my life. There was this huge change and it was also during covid. Plus the house was only five minutes away from my house and that was really special and important to my family. I know it’s just a house and I had no control over them moving but I tend to get very attached to certain things and I don’t like big changes. So Thanksgiving this year was nice but strange. Nice because I always enjoy getting to see my family but strange because it didn’t feel like we were supposed to be there. Not in the sense that we were breaking in but because I was so used to a certain routine. It also felt different because it was my first Thanksgiving while being in college. It sort of felt more like I was just visiting and it’s interesting to feel like a visitor in the place you have called home for almost your whole life. It’s also interesting to see what has stayed the same and what has changed in the town or area even though you haven’t been gone for so long. Plus this wasn’t even my first time coming home but I think it was the longest time. I wanted to be comfortable but I also didn’t want to get too comfortable because I knew I wouldn’t be there for that long. I really tried to live in the moment and be thankful that I had a family to go home to who was willing to pick me up from school and wanted to spend time with me. I’m really looking forward to winter break because I like spending time with my friends and family and I’ll get to do that for a nice amount of time and hopefully I won’t get sick of them. It’s still so hard for me to believe that I’m basically done with my first semester of college. It went by so fast and I don’t think I was expecting that.

*Insert Illustration Here*

In class we looked at illustrated letters. I found these very interesting because it is so much more engaging than just a letter with only words. Although at the same time it could be very overwhelming depending on how much art there is. I have always enjoyed doodling and drawing little things but with illustrated letters the drawings really have to mean something or add to the letter whereas doodles are just whatever comes to mind. I think it’s also important that the person is able to follow the text and not get too distracted by whatever else is happening on the paper. It makes me think that while illustrated letters are really cool and engaging it might be better in some cases to only have words on the page. I think the tone and the topic of the letter determine whether or not it should have drawings in it. If there is only text that means the text should definitely be focused on. With illustrated letters it probably also takes a longer time to make it than writing a normal letter. There is more planning because you have to figure out what the drawings will be and the layout of the page. I am interested in the history of illustrated letters because, especially before phones and other kinds of quick communication, illustrated letters must have been the quickest or easiest way to describe something to someone. I’m wondering if most of these kinds of letters were just art or if some of them actually were trying to show something. It can also depend on how the person receiving the letter interprets it. To someone it may be a picture but to others it could have a deeper meaning. Another thing that could be important in illustrated letters is making sure people will actually be able to see and know what the picture is. Although anyone can do an illustrated letter it is definitely more helpful if you are good at art or drawing. I really liked the illustrations from the Letters From Father Christmas book. The whole purpose of the book and the commitment put into it was also very sweet. Being Jewish, I didn’t grow up with Santa or other Christmas traditions but I liked the way everything was done in the book. The drawings made it look kind of like it was taking place in space or in some other futuristic world. I liked that because it was so different from how we see Christmas nowadays. It was interesting to see Christmas being portrayed without so much light and color. Even though one drawing shows the house breaking, overall it feels really peaceful and quiet. I also thought the polar bear letter was so cute.

The Effectiveness of Cover Letters

This week we learned about what to include and not include in a cover letter. This was really helpful because I wasn’t sure what a cover letter was and I hadn’t needed one for any of the jobs I’ve done in the past. I now know how important they are to have especially for someone my age in college who will be soon looking for jobs. It was also helpful seeing different examples of cover letters and what either made them effective or not effective. We also looked at two very different cover letters from Eudora Welty and Robert Pirosh. The one from Welty was more like a traditional cover letter as she gave background information about herself and included the skills she has. The cover letter from Pirosh was interesting because although he did talk a little about his background he spent most of the cover letter talking about the kinds of words he likes. It made me think that the effectiveness of a cover letter also depends on who is it going to and what the job is. In some cases it may be ok to be a little humorous while most times it is probably better to stay serious. In this case his writing was effective because Pirosh was able to show he knew a large variety of descriptive words which is necessary for the job he wanted as a screenwriter. Even though he didn’t talk a lot about his past experiences I think it still shows that he knows what he is doing or wants to do. I think especially in Hollywood he knew that he would have to be very creative and think outside the box if he wanted to secure a job. In Hollywood he would have more potential to be creative than in his job at an advertising agency. The letter ended up getting him three interviews and a job as a junior writer. Even though the cover letter from Pirosh is very interesting and engaging, I think that the cover letter I make for myself will be a lot more like the one from Eudora Welty. I think the jobs I’m interested in align better with her style of writing. It was also interesting looking at potential careers and taking a survey to see what careers were a good match for me. It was helpful seeing what level of education you need for certain jobs. I’m definitely going to use the website to my advantage in the future because I learned a lot. The website also included what jobs are becoming more popular and jobs that are common in certain areas of the United States. 

Letters of Note

This week in class we did our letters of note presentations. Each one was really interesting especially because everyone chose such different letters to focus on. At the same time though I was able to make some connections with my letter to other peoples letters. One similarity I noticed was there was a theme of some writers being homosexual and either having to hide it or getting in trouble for it. I found the letter I picked really interesting because it was between two very well known writers. Even though I knew who Bram Stoker and Walt Whitman were I enjoyed getting to learn more about them. I know I had read their work before but I never actually really got to look into who they were as people outside their writing. I resonated with how Stoker admired Whitman and really wanted to meet him because I know I have definitely felt that way about authors after reading certain things. I would love the chance to get to ask authors about their books and I think this project has shown me that now it’s even easier to get in touch with people. I still have questions about Stoker and Whitman that I could do more research on that weren’t necessarily related to my project. For example, I want to know more about Dracula. I had read it in school awhile ago and I remember being really interested in it but now I’m wondering more about Stokers influences and why he decided to write this story. From what I can remember it is very different from Walt Whitmans writing. Whitman seems to talk more about issues or things in real life while Dracula is definitely fiction. I think it could be interesting to further compare and contrast their work. I had also forgotten that Dracula as letters and diary entries so it really relates to this class. I would love to know why Stoker chose to write it this way. It seems a lot more difficult than only having one narrator or main character. I thought it was also interesting researching Stoker because I was able to make connections with his life and mine. Even though it was a very long time ago, he went to the college that my friend goes to in Ireland so I felt like I already knew a little bit about it and I could picture what it looks like.

(Love?) Letters of Note

In 1876, Bram Stoker wrote a letter to Walt Whitman. Stoker, the future author of Dracula, was a big fan of Whitman and admired both him and his book of poetry, Leaves of Grass. With his letter, Stoker also included a draft of a much longer letter he had written but never sent to Whitman. The letters reveal a lot about Stoker including some things that he may have not intended for many people to see. It shows how intimate and personal letter writing can be and how people are able to express feelings they may not be able to say in person. Through analyzing the letters and researching the backgrounds of the two writers, it seems possible that this could be a love letter from Stoker to Whitman. There is evidence for why they would have wanted to keep this exchange private for various reasons. To understand the relationship between Whitman and Stoker, it is important to know about the background and content in Leaves of Grass. Leaves of Grass was Walt Whitman’s only book of poetry and it was first published in 1855. The book’s main subject was America with poems about topics such as democracy, love, social change, the natural world, and the Civil War (“A Guide to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass”). The poems are notable because Whitman emphasizes praising the senses during a time when displays like this were thought of as immoral (“Leaves of Grass”). Through this book of poetry, Whitman became an activist for many different causes. He was inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson who at the time expressed the need for a uniquely American poet and Whitman decided he could do it. 

With Leaves of Grass came some controversy and mixed responses. At one point, the book had been banned for talking about sensuality yet at another time it was praised for the same reason. Whitman faced charges of obscenity and immorality for his work but this actually ended up increasing the popularity of his book (“Leaves of Grass”). In fact, some of the poems reminded people of bible verses. This may show one of the reasons why Stoker was so attracted to them. He could’ve thought of this book as his version of the bible and the way he talks about it in his letter makes it seem like it is something he worships. It spoke to him in a way that the actual bible didn’t. Some people thought that Whitman was homosexual. Although he never said it, there is evidence that this could be true. After his death, romantic letters to a male streetcar conductor from him were published. In that time period, homosexuality was not allowed and Whitman could have been putting himself and others in a lot of danger. In fact, Emerson tried to stop Whitman from publishing poems about sex and sexuality but he didn’t listen (Masel). Today Whitman is seen as a champion of same sex love. 

The letter from Stoker can be seen as a love letter whether it’s love towards the book, the person, or both. Although the love letters read in class were all to people, it doesn’t necessarily always have to be that way. He could have been professing his love for the book but it seems more like it is for the author. From his letter, one can make the conclusion that Stoker could also be homosexual. Many readers appreciated Whitman’s statements about the body and how he valued manly love (Masel). Love letters don’t have to use very romantic language and that can be seen in this one. It shows there are so many ways to express how you feel about someone. Love letters seem to be very effective but it may also depend on the circumstances you are in. In the case of Stoker, this could have been one of his only ways to express his feelings to someone who may have been going through the same thing without people finding out about it. Bram Stoker was able to write his letters in a way where he was able to get his point across without being too explicit. While his letter may look like just fan mail, on a deeper level of analysis it can be seen as a love letter between two people needing to keep a secret. 

For some, It is easier to express feelings in letters especially if the feelings are something that wasn’t allowed or accepted at the time. Stoker had many reasons for writing this letter but he must have also known that besides the distance between them, the letter format was most likely the only way he could talk to Whitman and without anyone else seeing it. “I have been more candid with you – have said more about myself to you than I have ever said to any one before.” (“You are a true man”). In one part of his letter Stoker says, “I know I would not long be ashamed to be natural before you.” (“You are a true man”). This quote comes from his draft that he never sent. It is interesting he didn’t initially send this version because it is so open and descriptive. That could be the reason why he never sent it. He may have thought he was being too vulnerable with someone he doesn’t personally know. The much longer draft of the letter also has a seemingly angrier tone in the beginning. Stoker tells Whitman he can burn the letter if he wants to but then talks about how much he admires him. “If you are the man I take you to be you will like to get this letter. If you are not I don’t care whether you like it or not and only ask you to put it into the fire without reading any farther.” (“You are a true man”). It could have been that he was going back and forth with himself on whether he should write as his authentic self. 

Stoker also describes himself in a lot of detail for Whitman. “I know you from your work and your photograph, and if I know anything about you I think you would like to know of the personal appearance of your correspondents.” (“You are a true man”). He didn’t have to do this and if he was just sending this out of appreciation for the book, he probably wouldn’t have added details about his appearance. Again, he is being very open. He also knows Whitman values and appreciates the body. And even though it can be uncomfortable he knows this is a way to get his attention. It is seen a lot now that people will do ridiculous things for attention of someone they admire even if it is a risk. With love, or just like, comes risk and Stoker was willing to do that if it meant even the chance of meeting his idol. Many people have respect for authors in general or ones who are trying to make a statement. It is also possible to feel like you know someone well even if you haven’t met them. Stoker initially not sending this letter could be because he wasn’t well known at the time like Whitman. Even though he wants to be friends, he also says in the letter that he sees them as having a pupil and master relationship. This is acknowledging that Whitman is higher up than him and he sees him as someone he has learned from. Whether it is friends, romance, or idol, in general he is hoping for some kind of relationship but also to make his admiration known. Stoker even adds in his letter that he has seen other people write to each other and become friends. 

Letters don’t have to use what we normally think of romantic language to express love or admiration. There are many different ways to show your love for someone. The privacy or intimacy of letters allows people to be more vulnerable when writing them because it is going to and meant for one person. Stoker was able to write as if he was writing to someone he knew well and he shared things that he hadn’t shared with other people. This could be because he saw similarities with himself and Whitman. The letters from Bram Stoker to Walt Whitman show admiration and the want to have some kind of relationship with the person being idolized. It shows how it hasn’t always been easy to express your feelings and the things people had to do to make their feelings known. Especially during the time when this was written, Stoker wouldn’t have been able to express out loud his true feelings and Whitman was also already being punished for some of his writing. Through his writing, Whitman was trying to make a statement and that resonated with Stoker. There may not have been many authors back then like Whitman who were willing to write so truthfully even when they were told not to. Whitman can definitely be seen as an idol and someone who deserves appreciation.

Can We Ever Forgive Lee Israel?

This week in class we watched and discussed the film, Can You Ever Forgive Me?. The topic of the movie was very interesting and surprising. I was surprised that Lee Israel did the forgery in the first place but also that she was able to get away with it for such a long time. As a writer she should have known how wrong and dangerous that was and that she was not only affecting herself but also the bookstore owners and collectors. I feel like even though she was desperate, she should have known the importance of original work and I think that she probably wouldn’t have wanted the same thing to happen to her. I was also very surprised by the punishment she got. For all that she did, it did not seem like the punishment matched the crime. I was expecting her to go to jail for some period of time but she was put on house arrest. She is also told to go to alcoholics annonymous but in the movie she is seen at a bar drinking. I don’t know how accurate this part is or if it was just done for the movie but I’m wondering why she wasn’t being more careful. I’m interested in reading more about her and seeing what was done for the movie and what actually happened in real life. It’s interesting to me how movies kind of have to alter a story to make it more scandalous or intriguing when the original story itself is already so crazy. I’m also wondering if Lee Israel was forgiven and by who and more of the legacy she left behind now that she’s dead. Did this whole thing make her more popular or well known and is that a good thing? I think it shows that you can still do bad or wrong things and become well known. It’s not for the right reasons but at the same time she was getting her name out and it probably made people want to read her work. In a way did doing something wrong actually help her more than it hurt her? I had never heard of Lee Israel before but now I’m very curious about learning more about her and I also want to read her book. I would like to also hear from the people she was tricking to understand better how they figured it out and what gave it away.

Benjamin Dogood & Silence Franklin

The letter of historical note that I read was from Benjamin Franklin in 1772. I found a lot of things very interesting about this letter especially for this time period. For example, Franklin used the pen name Silence Dogood in his letter and his alter ego wrote from the perspective of a woman. One reason this is interesting to me is because he wrote as if he was a woman during a time when it would’ve have been easier or better to get something published as a man. I’m wondering why he didn’t pick another male name or even make it anonymous. Yet at the same time he did have to use this fake name for a reason. It was because his brother wouldn’t publish Franklins work in his newspaper. I found this weird because they were brothers and that seems like something family would do for each other although I can see how there could be competition with this. From doing research I found out his brother, James Franklin, denied to publish his letters several times when he used his real name. I was also wondering why did he focus so much on this newspaper in particular when he could have probably gone somewhere else and gotten his work in under his own name. I’m wondering if he may have wanted to write from another perspective in the first place. He does a good job of covering up his real identity as he makes Silence Dogood’s background much different from his own. Another thing I found out was Benjamin Franklin was 16 and working as an apprentice to his brother when he wrote the letter. It seems hard to believe that a 16 year old could write so well from a perspective so unlike his own. I think it shows he was able to pay attention to details about other people which is what made the letters so good and believable. Another thing I’m thinking about is people didn’t live very long back then so maybe 16 was basically like being an adult. It’s interesting that people were able to do such amazing things then because now even with all the resources and technology we have, people aren’t always able to do work like that especially at that age. I think that in a way Franklin can be seen as an activist for women because even though it wasn’t his own life he was writing about he was able to communicate in a way what women were going through during that time.