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Three Step Process for Writing Rhetorical Analyses

Page history last edited by Todd Breijak 9 years ago

Three Step Process for Writing Rhetorical Analyses




A Three Step Process for Writing Rhetorical Analysis



Previously, we discussed how your Rhetorical Analysis needs to begin with a thesis statement that has two major components: an identification of the central argument of the book you are analyzing and the identification of a number of notable strategies (three would probably be a good number) used by the author to forward and support that argument.


After you've handled that objective in your introductory paragraph(s), the support of your own thesis will likely take place through a three step process repeated within each of your "body" paragraphs.


First: You'll refer to one of the techniques you identified and its role in the book.


Second: You'll provide an example of that strategy from that text; you might even quote the text in providing this example.


Third: You'll explain how this strategy is an effective one in forwarding the central argument of the text.


Here's that process as demonstrated in two paragraphs from the sample student essay Making Ends Meet in America using the same color-coding as above to demonstrate this three-step process:


Throughout the book, Ehrenreich uses several rhetorical strategies, but there are a few which are more evident than others. One of these is the use of statistics as a way to communicate additional information. Many of these statistics are not directly used to prove her main thesis, but they do bring certain unknown information to the reader that will influence their perspective to match that of the author. One key thing to note, however, is that she uses footnotes in order to convey the statistical information, because she may have felt that placing the data directly in the middle of her text would interfere with the fluidity of her writing. This proves to be an implicit way of using the rhetorical technique of statistics. Our very first encounter with the use of this rhetorical technique is when the author explains that, ‘eighty-one percent of larger employers now require preemployment drug testing, up from 21 percent in 1987…’ (Ehrenreich 14), when she describes the standard application process for a job at a supermarket called Winn-Dixie. Similarly, she continues to provide interesting facts and tidbits of statistical data, relating to aspects of the typical working class’ lifestyle, in order to further clarify how close to poverty the low-income workers really are. Additionally, some of the information she provides in these footnotes are references to external sources of information (but not actual statistics), such as the New York Times, which proves that she has done extra research to back up her claims. Ehrenreich does not merely come up with ideas arbitrarily, and the use of statistics proves to the reader that what she expresses has genuine evidence.


Her own personal experience, which serves as an appeal to her ethos, is another major rhetorical technique the author uses in her book. When she first chose to take on this project, Ehrenreich decided to set down some ground rules. She begins the book by stating the basics for her experiment. These are the restrictions that she decides are to be kept constant throughout the whole process of her research.  As she explains, “Rule one…was that I could not, in search for jobs, fall back on any skills derived from my education or usual work…Two, I had to take the highest-paying job that was offered me and do my best to hold it…Three, I had to take the cheapest accommodations I could find” (Ehrenreich 4). These parameters that she set up in the beginning allow her to better understand the working class lifestyle. We find that it is with this mindset that she enters the workforce. This technique is effective because it mainly forces her to keep circumstances similar to the real workers who do this on a daily basis.

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