How can I write a rhetorical analysis of "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker? I need help explaining ethos, logos, pathos, telos, and kairos.

1 Answer | Add Yours

thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

"Everyday Use", a frequently anthologized story by African-American author Alice Walker, is narrated by Mrs. Johnson. As rhetorical analysis was designed to be applied to non-fiction persuasive speeches, to do a rhetorical analysis of a story you need to reduce it to an argument; this involves somewhat simplified and reductive interpretation. Thus your first step in doing the analysis is deciding to treat the story as a narrow argument justifying Mrs. Johnson's decision to give the quilt to Maggie. The elements of your analysis are:

Ethos: Argument from character of speaker. For this, discuss what elements of Mrs. Johnson's character make her a persuasive speaker.

Logos: This means argument by means of abstract reasoning such as induction or deduction, or reasoning from analogy. Can you find an example of a general principle being applied? An important analogy?

Pathos: Arguments from pathos arouse the reader's emotions. How does Mrs. Johnson (and Walker) create sympathy for Maggie?

Telos: This is the purpose or goal of the story. Is Walker trying to argue for an authentic African-American tradition against Amiri Baraka's notioon of Cultural Nationalism?

Kairos: This deals with the choice of arguments appropriate to the occasion or the audience. 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,912 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question