Elements of Rhetoric as seen in Breaking Night and Between the World and Me

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The use of rhetorical devices such as ethos in Murray’s “breaking dawn” and Coates’ “between the world and me” shows why the writings have piqued the interest of many readers. In their essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Liz Murray use ethos. Coates’ cautionary tale is a written letter to his fifteen-year-old son that elicits intense feelings in response to the message he wishes to convey. The overt emphasis on his own life as a black citizen and the anger he has felt draws both black and white viewers (Coates 107). Coates’ tone and vocabulary are inspired, emotional, and unequivocal from the outset. For instance, the language employed by Coates in expressing the inhumanities faced and yet to be endured by the black Americans depicts him as a persevering, humane and realistic individual.

Liz Murray makes use of misery in a memoir tradition style. The narrative involves the use of vivid imagery and figurative language. For instance, the author writes, “July’s intense sun broke the Bronx open, split it down the center, and exposed its contents” (Murray 31). Also, she uses imagery to narrate her own experiences in poverty, drug addiction, and other life hurdles. The true story brings out Liz’s character as that of a fighter, survivor and a young woman who can be looked up to by other members of the society (Murray 283). In the midst of all sorts of struggles, she managed to prevail against all odds to the point of winning a scholarship. The language and tone is absorbing, disturbing and pacey. Some writers would chose a parental tone in describing their children but this is not the case in the story.

Coates’ use of suspense in the end contrasts with Murray’s finish point of the story. Coates book leaves the reader with neither solution nor hope in changing the face of America. The bitter truth of police killings, racism and the guaranteed expectation to the next generations is hard to swallow yet there is no way forward offered in the text. Contrary to Coates, Murray’s chronicles of harsh living conditions, broken family and inevitable struggles concludes with a happy ending (Murray 25). The inspiration that the story comes with is a reward to the readers.

Works Cited

Coates, Ta-nehisi. Between the World and Me. New York: Random House Audio, 2015. Sound recording.

Murray, Liz. Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard. New York: Hyperion, 2010. Print.

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