Step 2: Context
Lily King is an author of the opinion column for the New York Times and author of the novel, Euphoria. She grew up in a family full of divorces and thus learned to fear marriage itself. In Euphoria, these fears about failing at her marriage are depicted in her female protagonists, who ends up making impulsive, stupid decisions and ends up ruining her marriage. However, King’s own marriage is happy and healthy, contrasting her former beliefs. She wants to tell the reader that, despite the fears they may have about marriage, it doesn’t always fail, and it can actually be really happy.
The New York Times is a newspaper read by a very large audience, both in the U.S. and abroad. It’s hard to accurately categorize the type of people who read it, considering how huge and diverse this audience is. However because of its modern, intellectual articles and authors, some might say it takes a slightly liberal stance, and therefore attracts more liberal readers than conservative. We can assume that its readers are up-to-date with current events, or at least have an interest in current events. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t care to take the time to read a news article. The forum for this piece–an opinion column–gives King an opportunity to speak her mind about something, rather than speak objectively as traditional journalists expected to do. It also allows her to talk about her personal life, which is the basis for her argument and evidence.
This argument is one of many which reevaluates the value of marriage in our society. Marriage as it’s been traditionally seen is going out of fashion, largely because the rate of divorce is going up. Right now, about 1 out of 2 marriages fail on average. It’s not surprising that King would be afraid of marrying, especially in light of her family history. But this fear is something almost anyone in her audience can relate to, because almost everyone has known a couple who has gotten a divorce. And divorce itself is a highly discussed topic: sometimes it’s freeing, but most of the time it’s described as a drawn out, legal battle with both parties hating each other and feeling exhausted by their own decisions. Another common notion is that love starts to diminish and become less exciting once you get married, and King even voices this belief in her article. So there aren’t many people who wouldn’t be concerned with the prospect of a failed marriage nowadays.
Step 3: Text
The main argument King makes is that, despite a person’s fears about marriage, it won’t always turn out badly. So if you are ready and truly love the person, it’s not a bad thing to give it a try. She supports this by referencing personal experience. King had plenty of reason to fear divorce and marital unrest, but she loved her fiancé, and now they’re happily married. King’s argument is not laid out explicitly. Instead she tells you the story of her engagement and marriage, and then summarizes how it turned out. It’s structured as if her life is the argument, and how she’s living now is the evidence that marriage is not always a bad thing.
The fact that this article is published on the web increases the audience even more, particularly when it comes to young people. Most young people would rather get their news from the internet, rather than a newspaper. King probably had this in mind, especially since she is writing about decisions she made while she was still relatively young. She may want to pass her experience down to younger generations.
King’s ethos is in her having lived through a life surrounded by people who got divorced, and not being certain about her own marriage. She also speaks in a tone which is objective, recognizing her and her family’s own mistakes. The pathos she uses appeals to those who are afraid of marriage and commitment. She makes references to anxieties which many people have about marriage, which makes the argument relatable and therefore more believable.