The Victims of Sprawl (excerpt)

This study guide will help you analyze the excerpt from Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck’s chapter “The Victims of Sprawl” (2000) which can be found in the textbook Angles (pp. 85-92). You can also find a summary of the text as well as ideas for putting it into perspective.

Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck are American urban planners and the authors of the non-fiction book Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. The text you have to analyze is part of a chapter from the book, but it can also be analyzed and interpreted individually, like an essay. By “sprawl”, the authors refer to the spread of American suburbs outwards from the city centers and the original boundaries of the suburbs. 


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 


The authors mainly appeal to pathos when they resort to personal stories meant to engage the readers. For example, they insert a personal story of a mother of four children, who is disappointed and frustrated by sprawl: 

I miss walking! I want the kids to walk to school. I want to walk to the store for a pound of butter. I want to take the kids on a neighborhood stroll or bike. My husband wants to walk to work (…) but none of these things is possible… And if you saw my neighborhood, you would think that I had it all according to the great American dream. (p. 88, ll. 1-6)

The woman’s personal story highlights her feeling of frustration and appeals to people in similar situations. 

The authors also provide the personal story of a family of five members, each of which has a car:

I have a car for business, and pleasure. My ex-wife works; she has a car. Our son, away at college in Fort Worth, has a car; our eldest daughter has to have a car for college and her part-time job. Our youngest daughter (…)

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The Victims of Sprawl (excerpt)

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