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Society's Child - My Autobiography

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mille1996
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B. Society’s Child – My Autobiography

In 1965 the civil rights movement was still at its highest. It was 10 years ago since Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to at white man in the bus. A lot had changed since, but some people could not stand the black, while others began to accept them as being equal with the white people – people were divided. Some did not dare to speak up about acceptance of the black, because they were afraid of being killed. It was the circumstances at that time, but the 15 years old singer/songwriter Janis Ian, was not afraid – at first. She wrote a song about an interracial romance, and not everyone found it acceptable. Janis Ian got a lot of hate mail, threats and even got shouted of the stage, but this only became a turning point for her life and singing career.

Janis Ian’s autobiography is written as an article and is divided into columns. The main purpose of a structure build like an article is to inform the readers, and so do this autobiography. It also makes it very easy to read, and her messages also seem clearer. The text contains flashbacks on page 2, column 2 to page 3, column 1 and on page 3, column 2 to page 3, column 1. She uses the flashbacks as an information to the readers about the former circumstances. This gives us a better understanding of the situation.
It is very important for Janis Ian that the readers of her autobiography understand how she feels, and feel compassion with her. She is very afraid of going back on stage, because she thinks she might gets killed. “”What if someone takes a shot at me?” There. I’d finally said it, the secret dread I hadn’t admitted to anyone. What if someone takes a shot at me? What if someone really does try to kill me?” page 3, column 1, shows how bad she is felling about this situation, but also how she wants the readers to feel compassion towards her. The quote also shows how we get a deep look into her thoughts; her dark thoughts of getting killed by her haters.
The crowd chanting “Nigger lover” when she goes on stage, and she writes on page 1, column 2: “They were even chanting in time to the song” - when she uses the word even it becomes a strength marker, and her purpose is for us to feel compassion and sorry for her. She feels very alone in this situation, no one seems to care about her, page 2, column 1: “If this was a club, the bouncer would make short work of the troublemakers, but no one seemed to be doing anything. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. What was wrong with these people?” again she wants pity, and we clearly gets the story from her point of view, and that does not give the readers a change to form their own opinion about this conflict.
She describes the settings very detailed, so the readers feel like they are present and can put themselves in her position: “A man, dressed nicely in a suit and tie, was making obscene gestures and shouting something about monkeys”.
“I believed it now. Oh, yeah, you bet I believed it” and “I can’t go back there. I can’t” these quotes on page 3, column 1, are an example of Janis Ian’s way of clarifying the messages and strengthen the understanding. By these repetitions, the readers do not doubt what she is feeling about this performance with “Society’s Child”, this also makes the story very easy to read and understand.

There have been many complications with this song “Society’s Child”. The radio did not want to play the song, because of its race mixing and because they were scared of the reaction from the population. One radio station tried to play the song, but the next day their station was burned down. People had spit on Janis Ian, provoked her and even send her letters that could harm her. Janis Ian grew up among black people; she had seen how they were treated. Her purpose of the song, was just to clear out her system and tell a story, she did not see this one coming.
The important in this story and also the message and the moral of this story is to stand up with your principles. People have tried to make her change a word in the song, so it could become a hit, but she did not. She did not want to weasel out just to get a hit, the word stayed and she stood up for her principles. At one point she doubt herself, and says: “So much for sticking to your principles” on page 4, column 1, this is after the crowd shouted her off stage. At this point, she cannot understand why she did not listen to her friends. When the promoter convinces her to get back on stage, she is still in doubt, but when the haters leave the concert when she starts singing, she is victorious. She wins over her haters, because she stood up for her principles and did not give up – the show must go on as she says.

This is a kind of hero story. She was all by her self, stood firm on her principles, and won. But this story is also about overcoming your fear, like in the short story “The Swimmer”. Janis Ian overcome her fear, because she stood up for her principles, and did not adjust just to please everyone else, she focused on the fans that did like the song, and choose to stand up against the rest.
It was a risqué song to writ in that period, but where Janis Ian brave or just stupid? She was very brave. Everyone thought she was crazy, but she believed in herself, and in the end had the courage to face people who disagreed with her.…...

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