Writing on the Bias

Linda Brodkey in her ‘Writing on the Bias,’ talks about how her early-day’s recollections, as well as individual environment demonstrated to her the value of learning in the midst of biases and appreciating the discrepancies between writing with and writing without a bias. Linda holds that writing devoid of a bias is virtually not possible. According to her, we are what we utter and act. Our way of speaking, and the way people around us speak to us, according to Brodkey, plays a major part in shaping us into the people we turn out to be. However, she admits that she was not much influenced by the society around her (the working class) like she was by the society in her readings (the middle class). She writes, “I skimmed descriptions of gardens or grounds, I skipped altogether descriptions of cottages inhabited by tenant farmers, and I seem to have either ignored or forgotten descriptions of servants’ quarters and kitchens” (538). She adds, “Alone, I entered houses made familiar by my reading.

I particularly enjoyed living the fiction that food is served rather than prepared, and floors, windows, dishes, and clothes endlessly clean rather than cleaned endlessly” (542). Brodkey saw life more through the lens of the fiction world than the real world she was living in. However late on she seems to agree that by the use of words and other deeds, we construct ourselves in a humanity that is continually constructing us. That humanity that we live around addresses us to bring out the various identities we carry forward in our days. She says, “While I never learned to sew, that I write as my mother sewed probably explains why I take a good deal more obvious pleasure in the intellectual work of being an academic than those of my peers who have difficulty believing writing to be real work. If I enjoy the labor of writing, that can at least in part be explained by my writing as my mother sewed. She made clothes. I make prose” (545). She embraces the influence of the social class when she suggests that kids ought to be educated to write within a bias.

Brodkey’s focus on education geared towards the teaching of writing to students as a way for them to state their feelings, and ideas to others. Writing education should influence social class through the emancipation of the minds, as well as the imaginations of the learners (which are shaped by the social class). Education (in this case critical literacy) as such confronts the status-quo in an attempt to realize substitute paths for personal, as well as social growth. Education therefore is an approach towards the past, or a vision of the new social class against the power that be. Education as such then is seen as learning to read, in addition to writing as facet of the course of becoming aware of one’s experience as previously created within specific social classes.

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