Professor Belli | Spring 2022 | City Tech | ENG 3402: Topics in Literature


Self-Help by Samuel is quite a long story that revolves around the concept of a person needing to have a form of determination to find many results in life. They can range from being elevated to a higher position in social class, obtaining a reward for their achievement and/ or discovery. Overall, it emphasizes the power individual have toward their future and making changes where see fit. This brings forth the discussion of the importance of not only success but of the journey towards it, including a person’s failure. I found this reading interesting because of how it was introduced. At the start of this book on page 4, the struggle this book faced to obtain the recognition it has now. It mentions how the title of the book led people to believe it was going to be about a person who was bragging about their success in life. Yet, when people finally picked up the book only then did the people realize the true intention of the book as it “discusses the feel of labors, the trail, the struggles, and the achievements of other” (page 4).  Throughout the text, I have noted that the author always starts a section with two quotes that are clues toward the topic being discussed. For instance, in the first chapter of page 18, “We put too much faith in systems, and look too little to men”. Thus, the chapter discusses the power a person has not only toward themselves but also in society. This connects towards chapter 4, where the author goes deep into the journeys of many people including their struggles and the background, they come from growing up. For instance, Buffon is introduced as the epitome of perseverance. “By the persistent use of such means, Buffon at length conquered his habit; and he was accustomed to saying that he owed to Joseph three or four volumes of his Natural History” (page 99). When the author included this person, I was amazed at the effort and hours this person was putting into his work to the point every timeframe was scheduled for work. It is a concept that I would like to achieve one day as well. For it can e noted Buffon will indeed see the grand result of the time placed.  As for the chapter I read of my choosing, I when with chapter 7 Industry and the Peerage. The reason because rather than discussing the dedication of a person achieving great results in return it is the opposite in this one. For instance, Phipps is introduced as a person who was undergoing a voyage to find lost treasure in the south sea. He faced many struggles such as having an unsuccessful voyage on the first try, having to learn how to shipbuilding, and being perceived as a fool. “ At first he was laughed at but his ceaseless importunity at length prevailed, and after four years-he at length succeeded” (page 183).


  1. dmondel

    I haven’t read a few posts yet and I really like yours. Looks like you’ve a least met some important criteria for our post such as demonstrating clear understanding with evidence from the text and with at least 500 words (did not count but looks like it).

  2. Jill Belli

    Olga, you have good discussion here, and the inclusion of many specific details & excerpts from the text strengthens the response. Also, really nice point about the epigraphs (quotes) at the beginning of chapters and their function. I’ve chosen this post as this week’s “Professor’s Pick” 🙂

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