Eng4U1 Personal Persuasive Essay Analysis Unit: answers for Susan Cain’s

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ENG4U1 Personal Persuasive Essay Analysis Unit:

ANSWERS for Susan Cain’s VISUAL Personal Persuasive Essay,

The Power of Introverts”

ANSWERS to the Seven Essay Analysis Questions:

1) What is the thesis of Cain’s visual essay? Express this thesis in your own words.

  • Cain asserts that we need introverts to do what they do best – work on their own and think independently.

  • Cain attempts to persuade viewers that solitude matters and that we as a society need to give introverts more freedom to be themselves because they possess many strengths that can benefit us.

  • Finally, Cain underscores that culturally, we need a better balance between introverts and extroverts (these individuals are known as ambiverts).

2) Do you agree or disagree with Cain’s thesis? Explain your reasoning by connecting directly

to Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle (ethos, pathos, logos).


  • Cain has spent the past seven years writing a book about introversion (being an introvert is part of her personality and is also her focused field of study).

  • She mentions that introverts get better grades and are more knowledgeable than extroverts (*the audience laughs and Cain responds by saying meekly, “That’s according to research”*) – Is there a negative effect on her ethos/logos here? Discuss!

  • She is speaking from a lifetime of personal experience because she herself is an introvert. She says, “I tell you this story about summer camp. I could have told you fifty others just like it.” – This reference to fifty other stories just like Cain’s summer camp story highlights Cain’s many experiences as an introvert in which she was made to feel out of place or undervalued (i.e. people saying that she needed to make more of an effort to be “outgoing”).


  • Because the world does not seem to praise or value introverts, Cain asserts that introverts often make self-negating choices in order to fit into a world of extroverts (i.e. Cain talks about becoming a Wall Street lawyer rather than an author or going to a crowded bar instead having a nice dinner with friends). This underscores the fact the people are not being true to themselves and doing the things that speak to their more introverted tendencies.

  • She states that “It is the world’s loss…” that introverts are not being given the power and the freedom that they deserve (Cain connects to history and how our society has evolved into a culture of personality) – this quotation conveys that we all should care about this issue because we are all losing out! Just think of all the wonderful things we are missing out on…!

  • She asserts that because people have a tendency to follow the loudest or most charismatic leader that we might not be following the person with the best ideas – this stirs a feeling of uneasiness in the viewer!

  • She expresses emotion when she says, “I felt guilty about this. I felt that the books needed me and I was forsaking them.” A personal connection may allow readers to pay closer attention to this moment from Cain’s experience and be persuaded by her emotional appeal (books are friends too).


  • A statistic: “One third to one half of all people are introverts (1 out of every 2 or 3 people you know).” This is a statistic that proves that this topic relates to a lot of people within our population (pathos is also elicited – we should care about this debate because a lot of people are introverts)!

  • Cain alludes to many great minds throughout history who became leaders despite their introversion, not because they were particularly charismatic, but because they were driven to do what was right (i.e. Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Ghandi).

  • She also discusses brilliant introverts who have created lasting works that will forever have an impact on our society who embraced or needed their quiet independence in order to be productive and creative (i.e. Dr. Seuss/Theodore Geisel and Steve Wozniak)

  • She integrates many strong, well-developed supporting arguments into her essay that explore introverts positively in a variety of fields/situations (i.e. history, psychology, education, the workplace, seekers/revolutionaries, her own personal examples, etc.)

  • She refers to many “facts” based in “research”, but the research is not always specified. What is the EFFECT on her essay overall?

3) What is the tone of Cain’s visual essay? Does it enhance her persuasiveness?


  • “I always sensed deep down this was wrong, and introverts were pretty excellent just as they were…”

  • “What helped even more was my sense, my belief, my hope that when it comes to our attitudes towards introversion, and to quiet, and to solitude, we truly are poised on the brink of dramatic change. I mean we are.”

  • Viewers get a sense that Cain is attempting to right a terrible wrong throughout her essay by bringing the strengths of introverts to light for everyone to see and finally recognize. She also highlights that a dramatic change is on its way!


  • “I’m going to leave you now with three calls to action for those who share this vision…1. Stop the madness for constant group work….2. Go to the wilderness….3. Take a look in your own suitcase….”

  • Cain is attempting to motivate viewers to act, which is a powerful tone for a persuasive piece of writing. She wants to persuade viewers to remedy how we currently view introverts and to see the value in those who are not the most outgoing people in the room, but who still have important things to say, albeit more quietly or in a different way than we expect.

4) Identify and analyze THREE pro arguments that Cain integrates in order to support her


  • 1. The mainstream classroom structure is designed for extroverts and she explores the potentially negative effects of constant group work

  • 2. The workplace is also organized around “the new group think” (open-plan offices) – Introverts are regularly passed over for leadership positions, but they make better bosses (deliver better outcomes and influence proactive employees).

  • 3. Cain provides historical examples of transformative leaders and seekers who have had a powerful impact on the world despite being introverted.

  • 4. Learning from her grandfather’s example in her own way

5) Identify and analyze ONE concession argument that Cain presents in order to explore

the alternate side of her argument. If she does not present a concession argument, what is

the effect on her visual essay?

  • “I love extroverts! Some of my best friends are extroverts, including my beloved husband.”

  • “We all fall at different points along the introvert/extrovert spectrum.”

  • “This is not to say that social skills are not important.”

  • “I am not calling for an abolition of team work…this does not mean that we should stop collaborating!”

  • “I’m not saying that we now have to go off and build our own cabins in the woods and never talk to each other again…”

6) Identify and analyze TWO internal strategies that Cain uses in order to shape/develop her

thesis. Are these internal strategies used effectively (comment on their purpose and effect)?

  • Classification/Categorization – Examining introverts and extroverts as two separate groups/types of people with their own unique set of characteristics

  • Contrast – Exploring the differences between introverts and extroverts (“the man of action vs. the man of contemplation”)

  • Definition – Defining how introverts and extroverts can be defined based on how each respond to stimulation

  • Narration – Her summer camp experience and the story of her grandfather.

  • Example – Examples of powerful, well-respected introverts who have something fantastic to offer the world

  • Analogy – Take a good look at what is inside your own suitcase and why you put it there? Open it occasionally for all to see!


7) Identify and analyze TWO rhetorical devices that Cain uses in order to enhance her

thesis. Are these rhetorical devices used effectively (comment on their purpose and effect)?

  • Rhetorical Questions – “Why are we getting it so wrong?” (She engages readers through the use of a collective personal pronoun – “WE”)

  • Allusions – For example: Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Karl Jung, Buddha, etc. (many connections to psychology, history, religious leaders, etc.)

  • Humour – “So I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why we were supposed to be so rowdy or why we had to spell this word incorrectly…”, “I called this my year of speaking dangerously…” (She humanizes these moments in her essay, and she connects to her audience through laughter)

  • Metaphor – “Weave intricate tapestries of humanistic thought…”, “Stop the madness for constant group work”

  • Situational Irony – “My job is to be out here talking about introversion as an introvert.” (the exact opposite of what we would expect from an introvert)


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