Naps by Barbara Holland

Intention: Holland’s intention in this essay is to bring to light the importance of daily naps, and explain the benefits of napping in the middle of the afternoon.

-Holland appeals to logos and builds her credibility with the audience by explaining other countries customs and views on napping versus the U.S.’s. For example, she tells a story of when her and her friend were in France and there was no one there to help them unlock a boat they rented at noon because the lady working there was taking a nap. She then compares herself and her friend to the French people by saying, “If we’d been differently nurtured we too would have taken a nap, but we were Americans, condemned from the age of four to trudge through our sleepless days. Americans are afraid of naps.” Placing this story about at the beginning of the essay is effective because it shows the differences between the U.S. and other countries right away.

-One of the lines that is most effective in describing how Americans view naps reads, “We tell ourselves we have a million urgent things to do and our lives are so full and exciting we couldn’t possibly lie down by daylight.” Holland also appeals to pathos in this line because the audience can relate to what she’s describing.

-One quote that is effective in getting Holland’s intention across reads, “Bed is not shameful, shiftless place to be by day, nor is it necessary to run a fever of 102 to deserve it. Bed can be productive. The effortless horizontal body and the sensory deprivation of the quiet bedroom leave the mind free, even in sleep, to focus, to roam, sometimes to forge ahead.” Here, Holland is making a case for why naps can be beneficial, and she stresses the point that naps are not shameful because they can actually increase productivity.

–Kayla Gay

Holland delivers several connected strains of analysis using vivid comparisons. The line, “Like skydiving, napping takes practice; the first few tries are scary,” illustrates and hyperbolizes the notion that many Americans believe naps are scary, unproductive, and possibly even detrimental. This amplified comparison provides the audience with a new idea to explore. Holland then provides the simple, yet somewhat humorous, comparison of the differing viewpoints on naps of Americans and cats, “Consider the cat. A perfectly healthy cat can nap through the entire month of February and wake feeling all the better for it…Swiftly and easily he lowers himself into sleep, sensuous, fur-lined sleep, the sleep of the untroubled conscience. Sleep, for a cat, is a worthy occupation in itself.” By providing this context, Holland emphasizes a slightly unconventional example and exaggerates the positives of taking naps—good health, better mood, etc. This quote also emphasizes how weighty the topic of naps seems to be for Americans.

Holland makes several appeals to ethos by referencing influential figures of history—Milton, Winston Churchill, and Coolidge.  Holland also delves deeper into the motives Americans have for never napping and explains the connections she found to the Puritanical values of the past. By providing these credible historical examples of people who napped and the motives for those who don’t nap, Holland is supplying her audience with several different types of supporting evidence to analyze and ultimately draw their own conclusions.

One memorable quote from this piece is, “Just because we’re uncomfortable doesn’t mean we’re productive; just because we’re comfortable doesn’t mean we’re lazy.” This quote is memorable because Holland honestly states her stance on the subject of naps. This is significant, because it strengthens Holland’s appeals to ethos and pathos because she is willing to choose a side and create a promising argument to defend her views. The appeals allow the audience to better understand Holland and deepen their respect for her as a writer and a person. Also, her informal diction allows the audience to grasp the humorous nature of the subject of this essay while simultaneously grasping the seriousness of Holland’s argument.

–Hannah Wagner

This essay starts with an entertaining anecdote about the author being locked out of a gate in France while the keeper was taking her daily nap. This anecdote is effective because it makes the audience aware of the great divide between Americans and Europeans on the subject of naps. While European readers would be surprised that Holland and her friends tried to plan an activity during peak nap time, American readers would be flabbergasted to learn about the scheduled cease of productivity in the middle of the day. Both groups of readers will have their interest piqued by this anecdote and be eager to learn more.

“Americans are afraid of naps,” – This simple sentence greatly assist Holland’s argument for naps. Most American readers cannot deny that the American aversion to naps lies within their within their memories. When Holland equates this aversion to fear, readers are forced to explore the idea that their aversion is unfounded. Naps seem like a harmless thing, so it seems ridiculous to be afraid of them.

This essay uses logos when it attempts to identity the source of this aversion to naps. Logically, if Europeans still revere naps, some distinctly American phenomenon must have taken place to shift the American stance. Puritanism seems like a reasonable culprit because it was one of the founding ideas that distinguished Americans from their European peers. This cause works in Holland’s favor because readers familiar with American history realize that the Puritans were self-denying to a fault, and thus are more likely to identify the fear of naps as an unneeded cultural hand-me-down from their erroneous ancestors.

— Hannah Doll

The speaker, or persona, that Barbara Holland takes on in this piece is very effective. She assumes a humorous, conversational, witty persona that is very effective at convincing readers that taking an afternoon nap would be beneficial to them. It is effective because its lightness make the readers more willing to connect to the speaker. They don’t feel condescended to or as though they are being preached at, as can happen in some persuasive essays. As a result, they are more willing to listen to what Holland is telling them. She also uses many personal words, such as “we” and “us” when talking about Americans’ fear of naps that establish an even stronger connection between the speaker and the reader.

Holland also uses vivid imagery to help achieve her intention. When she describes the way many Americans spend their afternoons at work, she says, “This leaves the rest of us lackeys bolt upright, toughing it out, trying to focus on the computer screen, from time to time snatching our chins up off our collarbones and glancing furtively around to see if we were noticed.” This imagery serves as an appeal to pathos because it depicts an experience that many Americans can relate to, and it makes them wonder if such embarrassing experiences wouldn’t happen if they heeded her advice and took scheduled afternoon naps. The fact that this appeal to pathos is made with such a strong description of the occurrence increases its effectiveness because readers can imagine themselves acting in exactly the way she describes.
Holland’s occasional use of rhetorical questions is also effective in this piece. One example of this is when she describes the lives of people who may work from home or choose to be stay-at-home parents. She says, “Large numbers of us are, for one reason or another, home-bound, but do we indulge in the restorative nap? Mostly not.” Her rhetorical question forces readers to pause and think about whether they would take a daily nap if they didn’t have to be at work. Since most people would answer, “no” to that question, her blunt, two-word reply aligns with the feelings of her audience. This builds her ethos because it shows that she has knowledge about the general naptime trends of her audience. This then causes readers to be more receptive to her reasoning about why naps can be a good thing.

-Alex Stevens

Another way that Holland appeals to ethos, beside mentioning historical figures such as Churchill and Coolidge, but also by mentioning one of the most productive and developed countries in the world, Japan. She tells the reader about how many of their successful companies have a nap room in order to keep their workers refreshed. America often has the mindset of continually working in order to be the best, and yet another country well-known for its advancement can afford to allow nap rooms and still be at the top of their game.

Arrangement: the essays starts out by telling the reader about countries that utilize the body’s natural inclination to take a nap around a certain time of day. Then, she compares their habits to those of America and how we’re missing out on the benefits. The benefits, such as getting refreshed, subconsciously solving problems, and increasing creativity, are what Holland then addresses at the end. This circular and completed setup gives a logical and compelling argument etched into the reader’s mind and leaves them with that final, productive point on why naps are so beneficial.

“Bed is not a shameful, shiftless place to be by day, nor is it necessary to run a fever of 102 to deserve it.” In this quote, Holland is directly addressing the most compelling argument that the reader would have against the horrific thought of taking a nap. In this paragraph she goes to state all the reasons of how, not only do you not need some dire excuse to sleep during the day, but how it can also be very beneficial to your health and problem-solving skills.

–Skyler Houser


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