What are the elements of ethos, pathos, and the clear message found in Scott Russell Sanders' essay, "The Men We Carry In Our Minds"?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Due to space limitations in this format, I could not list all the examples you requested.  However, below should give you some ideas for what to look for further.

Scott Russel Sanders' essay, "The Men We Carry in Our Minds," is a prolific account of not only relative perception, but also of suffering and endurance. His central point and clear message is that the battle between the sexes is shaped by the experiences of the sexes, particularly the men in each person's life. Women in our present era who rush through life to both pursue a career and tend to family life do so to escape the feelings of entrapment earlier generations have felt. However, Sanders points out that women forget that men have felt just as imprisoned as women.

The argument category ethos is used to show the reader that the writer is credible and has a fair minded, ethical view of the material. One application of ethos he uses is to relay his background. He very clearly depicts his childhood upbringing surrounded by men who toiled in blood, sweat, and tears all their lives. He describes African-American criminals, factory workers, and coal miners in a way that we really believe he grew up around these people. He describes these working men as "stooped," and says that, "The bodies of the men I knew were twisted and maimed in ways visible and invisible." He also describes the career progression of his own father and that his body had "quit on him entirely before he turned sixty-five." All of these vivid descriptions help us to see that he knows exactly what he is talking about and to trust him as an authoritative source.

Sanders also uses pathos, or an emotional appeal to persuade us of his perspective. Pathos can especially be seen in his diction choices, such as "twisted," "maimed," "lost finger," and fingernails described as "black and split." He also uses pathos in the form of diction to describe the feelings of women, such as "deep grievances," "thankless roles," and "wretchedness."

Beyond what we see from his use of ethos and pathos, two important quotes that depict his central message are:

I was baffled. What privileges? What joys? I thought about the maimed, dismal lives of most of the men back home.

I wasn't an enemy, in fact or in feeling. I was an ally.


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