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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Essay by   •  May 7, 2019  •  Creative Writing  •  1,109 Words (5 Pages)  •  776 Views

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Each experience in our life has a profound effect, each shaping our identity. In his autobiography, Kaffir Boy, Mark Mathabane depicts his very own experiences living under the oppressive system that was Apartheid in South Africa and how those same experiences helped him escape the system. The entire novel revolves around the theme of fear and suffering that stems from the racism that dominated Mathabane’s life. Through the effects created from uses of rhetorical devices, appeals to pathos, and intricate diction, Mathabane instills those themes into his audience.

In the novel, Mathabane scarcely uses rhetorical devices as he relies on the straightforward impact of precisely-chosen words and emotional narrative. However when Mathabane does use rhetorical devices, they have more impact if used more frequently. A rhetorical device he uses in abundance is imagery. Mathabane aimed to explain as vividly as possible what his experiences were. Such an example is when he shares an memory of his struggling childhood, “Each day we spent without food drove us closer and closer to starvation. Then terror struck. I began having fainting spells. I would be out playing when suddenly my head would feel light, my knees would wobbles, my vision would dim and blur and down I would come like a log”(6.24). The descriptive phrases depicts his memory so graphically where it’s as if Mathabane wants his audience to experience what he experienced himself so that they fully comprehend the severity of the oppression of Apartheid that causes such fear and suffering. Another rhetorical device Mathabane utilizes to paint his picture is hyperbole. Similar to imagery, the purpose of hyperbole here is to evoke strong images to really have an impact on his audience. When Mathabane refers to another memory, a particular statement shines when he states, “A million times I wondered why the sparse library at my tribal school did not carry books like Treasure Island, why most of the books we read had tribal points of view” (31.3). This very statement defines the oppressive system of Apartheid. Though a simple sentence that exhibits Mathabane’s struggles as a boy who wanted to pursue education, it demonstrates the vast control Apartheid imposes on the black residents. The exaggeration of how he wondered “a million times” can imply just how long Mathabane must have questioned why his life was so poor just because of his race and the resulting suffering that he must endure because of it. Race continues to be an overt concept in which Mathabane blames all his fear and suffering for.

Another standout feature of Mathabane’s stylistic writing is his diction. He precisely chooses words with darker connotative meanings with the purpose of creating that sorrowful mood/tone. Such intricate use of words also contribute to how Mathabane wants to present his sad memories. This statement, “Gradually, I came to accept hunger as a constant companion. But this new hunger was different. It filled me with hatred, confusion, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, loneliness, selfishness and a cynical attitude toward people” (10.58), exhibit words that relate to a central meaning of despair. With each adjective, readers get an increasing sense of the misery and hatred that Mathabane holds within him due to the oppression. Another example, “There is a death far worse than physical death, and that is the death of the mind and soul, when, despite toiling night and day, under sweltering heat, torrential rain, blistering winds, you still cannot make enough to clothe, shelter and feed your loved ones, suffering miles away, forcibly separated from you” (12.4), display a similar use. Words like “toiling”, “sweltering”, and “blistering” all are more on the negative, darker spectrum in connotative meaning. As his audience reads these words, it creates a darker tone than a happier one, again contributing to the overall tone of disparity. That tone of disparity relates to the theme of suffering, constantly shown throughout the novel.

With the novel depicting such compelling experiences,



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