Next up in sharing my academic writing was a rhetorical analysis of an essay from the textbook. I got to choose from a list, and I chose one that spoke to me at an emotional level. A rhetorical analysis is kind of like a summary, except that you look deeper into the diction, the themes, the wordings, and the types of sentences used to look into why the response is what it is, and what mechanics were used to create it.
I hope you enjoy it, and please share your thoughts!
A Brief Rhetorical Analysis of ‘Canada’s “Genocide”: Thousands Taken from Their Homes Need Help’
Michael Downey’s Canada’s “Genocide”: Thousands Taken from Their Homes Need Help paints a painful picture from three decades of recent Aboriginal cultural history through the careful use of a serious yet informational tone. Downey opens his essay with an example of someone forced through the system in the late 60s, who came out the other side with next to nothing and yet goes on to reach success in life despite the early tragedy. This introduction serves as foreshadowing of the facts used to support his thesis: that the forced adoption within the native community caused tragedy both at the personal and cultural level, along with the belief that the native community and culture can thrive beyond the tragedy of the past. By placing both specific and non-specific examples throughout the text, he keeps the focus on how the system ignored the people it was affecting, while also being able to hold the emotional attention of the reader. Downey keeps the reader engaged and emotionally attached to finding a resolution to the cultural scar left behind. The carefully chosen words and conscious paragraph placement elicit an emotional response in the reader, while also spreading knowledge and calling for societal change. Using mostly common language and limited technical jargon, along with carefully placed statistics and numbers, Downey effectively expands the reach of his essay to any individual by maximizing overall comprehension and readability. Even his choice of wording for the title, using both evocative language – “cultural genocide” – and hinting at a call to action – “need help” – show the thesis and overall message of the essay. One of his quotes resonates, as it shows the blind racism that still permeates today, David Langtry said “It was perhaps – perhaps – done with the best intentions” (qtd. in Downey). The conviction this quote shows is that the system truly thought the best thing for these children was to be removed from their parents and culture, and placed into a family made up of completely different values and beliefs. Downey closes with his call to action, implying that the spread of information is essential for society, and that there are changes possible to better help those who have been affected by this tragedy.
Downey, Michael. “Canada’s “Genocide”: Thousands Taken from Their Homes Need Help.” Acting on
Words: An Integrated Rhetoric, Research Guide, Reader, and Handbook. By David Brundage and
Michael Lahey. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson, 2012. 444-448.