US healthcare system
Essay 1: Close Reading
The refrain that the US health care system is broken and needs to be fixed is repeated over and over again. The
appropriate fix is however more difficult to identify because several components of the health care system appear to be
broken. In this first unit, you will analyze evidence from an assigned text to learn more about the US health care
system. One of the assumptions of this class is that, all cultural productions – movies, media, and legislation – can be
read as a text and subject to critical analysis. With that in mind, the first essay is based on the movie John Q. The movie
describes the story of a family faced with a health care crisis, but ‘priced out’ of being able to seek the appropriate care
that their son needs. The storyline implicitly identifies several reasons for the family’s predicament and the resulting
action of the father. Your task in this close reading assignment is to analyze what the movie teaches us about what is
wrong with the US health care system. Specifically, identify at least two attributes of the U.S. health care system that led
to the story that unfolds in the movie and develop a cogent argument, citing evidence from specific scenes in a 5-7 page
essay. This essay is not a summary of the movie John Q but rather a critical review of how the underlying message
about the U.S. health care system is portrayed by the movie. Students are urged to look beyond the dramatics of the
movie and focus on the message conveyed. Also, students are urged to think creatively about the types of evidence
from the film used in support of argument.
In performing a “close reading” of a text like a video, as in the case of John Q, you are expected to locate and
contemplate a tension within a text, and make an argument about its interpretation, supporting it with detailed,
thought-provoking analysis. This first assignment is to help you cultivate the skill of ‘close reading’; you will continue
to refine this skill throughout the semester.
You must formulate a thesis that argues persuasively and coherently for your first impression and you must support
your thesis with evidence from the video.
Goals of the Essay
Identify and connect small details to larger ideas. Narrowing in on a few scenes from the movie and delving deeper will
enable you to explore the approach used by the director and scriptwriter to convey the central themes of the movie.
Think creatively about the tone and message of interchanges between characters, video clips embedded in the video and
the symbolism of different settings and how they successfully (or unsuccessfully) connect back to the central themes.
Some of the evidence you identify could be interpreted differently; do not be afraid to state instances where there may
be alternate interpretations of the scenes you identify and use that as an opportunity to refine your argument.
Develop a coherent argument in the essay. The essay is not meant to be a summary of the key messages in the movie
and a list of the supporting evidence. Rather, you should be able to present evidence from one scene, analyze it and
connect it to your overarching thesis.
All interpretations require evidence; all evidence requires analysis. Be sure to support any claims that you make with
evidence (scenes, exchanges, and other details from the movie). Also, note the distinction between evidence (details that
you identify from the movie) and interpretations (your take on why these specific scenes are important) in
substantiating your arguments.
Don’t forget your reader. You should have an audience in mind when writing your essay. In academia, the reader is often
not limited to the instructor. Rather, you should write your essay with enough details to make the piece comprehensible
to someone who may not be entirely familiar with the movie or may have watched it a while ago. This can be achieved
by providing synopsis of the context surrounding specific scenes or providing an explanation of the roles of different
characters. Remember to connect all these details back to your central thesis argument.
Use proper citation. All citation should use the APA (American Psychological Association)style guidelines(included in the
Writer’s reference). Include relevant in-text citation (in the body of your essay) and append a list of Works Cited to your
In addition to the rough draft of your essay, you are also required to write a draft cover letter addressed to your
readers, in which you answer the following questions and present any other concerns that you have.
• What is the main point of your essay? If you had to summarize the entire paper in one sentence, what would it
• What patterns, images, tensions or ideas in the movie, John Q, sparked your ideas for this draft?
• Do you use quotations from the movie in your draft? How many quotations (count them)? Do you think these
quotations are too few, too many or sufficient? Why? Are the quotations relevant and do they directly substantiate your
argument, or are they just there to fill space?
• If you could ask any question of your reader, what would it be? Is there a part of your essay on which you
would like advice?
• What are the biggest challenges you are facing at this point in the writing process? That is, where are you