Paper on Reading Answer

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・English ・MLA ・1 Sources

Sven Birkerts and His Autobiographical Meditation Essays

Sven Birkerts wrote the novel, which was published in 2011. It features forty-five autobiographical meditation essays, with each of them narrated by the esteemed professor, memoirist, and critic with charm, sharp eye, and exquisite writing. He succeeds in his task of leading readers into his mind, encouraging them to take his measurements and, as a result, making them feel as if they have traveled and seen what he narrates in his short essays. One of his short stories, "ladder," will be explored in this article. The all-rounded man of letters' strengths and weaknesses also in this short story will be discussed in this scholarly reaction paper.

An Exploration of Birkerts' Short Story "Ladder"

Birkerts manages to tell readers the reason behind the ladder, which was because he was hired as a painter when he was a younger (Birkerts, Sven). The authors' honesty and openness regarding his past life give readers strength to always speak out and not be ashamed of their past. He also sets a good example to young learners to embrace work without being choosy and faces the dangers in them to meet their needs and one day; they will make it just like he did. I find the authors' remarks encouraging and motivates the youths to always strive for the best in life no matter whether they are rich or poor. It also shows that anyone can make it in life if he or she puts in a lot of hard work in whatever they do in life as long as they have the passion.

The Fear Behind the Ladder

The author narrates in the short story the manner that he carried out his job. He states that he suddenly could not help himself after climbing the ladder and he turned his head slightly to the left and managed to look down. The main reason behind observing down was to see if his boss was around and also because he wanted to know where he was since he felt a thud as the grass continued to click in every moment. He finds out that his boss is not even on the left side. From his statement, I believe the author was naughty and had canny behaviors. He could not work under supervision implying that he doubted his painting job skill and was afraid of corrections at the moment.

Unspoken Fears and the Sensory Experience

Birkerts manages to tell the readers of his fears without directly telling us. He states that he was halfway up on the ladder and on the side of the tallest house he had ever seen in his life and he was all alone. Moreover, the little twist of his neck sounded like breaking a seal. The focus, the calm, whatever story that he was telling himself was all gone. Everything that was below him turned to be small since the ground at the same time became small. The wind was pulling at the back of his shirt, and he felt his fingers of his right hand tightening their grapple and his chest and stomach pushing in harder against his lungs (Birkerts, Sven). I firmly believe that he admitted that he is afraid of heights despite him not writing it down to his book. The author could have written down his fears for clarity so as the readers could avoid making assumptions.

Creating an Engaging Narrative

Birkerts manages to compel readers in his story by making them feel like they have traveled and witnessed what he narrates in his short essays. He narrates beautiful moments he encountered like not only the susceptibility of being up there on the ladder but, the worst thing of being all alone up there. The idea of his neck turning like a "breaking seal" brings out all the emotions that encompass the scenarios. I applaud him for being able to create scenarios that make the readers feel like they were the ones experiencing the events. His style of writing makes readers have the urge of going through each page not wanting to put the book down.

The Need for Clarity

The little story of the ladder is absorbing; however, it lacks some clarity like how young was he regarding age? Was that the first time that he climbed a ladder to paint? And how long had he been practicing painting? I believe the author should have explained all those details for a free flow of information and reading especially when a reader is going through the essay; thus avoiding unnecessary confusion.


The Other Walk by Birkerts has many interesting essays just like the ladder, which is fascinating and drives the reader to be eager to read more. Ladder brings the reader to another world of fantasies as the author uses a unique style of writing to make the reader walk with him in his world while reading. I would recommend other readers who love reading short essays to purchase Birkerts book and go through this ladder essay and even the other 44 essays. However, the few flaws like failing to mention his age at the moment and job experience need to be added in his edited version. The Other Walk book written by Birkerts relates to our class since it provides us with the ability to write stimulating essays just like him and helps us learn from his strengths and weaknesses. As future essayists, we learn from Birkerts qualities like being open-minded and hardworking. However, from his weakness, we learn to be keen and countercheck our work without omitting smaller details like the author did with the age factor.

Work Cited

Birkerts, Sven. The Other Walk: Essays. 1st ed., Graywolf Press, 2011,.

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