How does Cormac McCarthy's novel No Country For Old Men use rhetorical techniques to create an emotional appeal to readers?I’m reading NCOM for a rhetoric class. I need help identifying ways in...

How does Cormac McCarthy's novel No Country For Old Men use rhetorical techniques to create an emotional appeal to readers?

I’m reading NCOM for a rhetoric class. I need help identifying ways in which formal procedures of writing enhance persuasive appeals for readers of NCOM.

How does the narrative (form, symbols) compel certain responses and attitudes from readers? Examples?

Thanks so much, I really appreciate another opinion.

 

 

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men uses various rhetorical techniques and methods to make a strong impact on its readers.  One example (near the end of Chapter IX) occurs when Sheriff Bell is explaining his attitudes toward his own behavior during World War II – behavior that troubles him greatly. Although most people believe that Bell behaved heroically during the war, Bell himself is troubled that he did not die with his troops, most of whom were dead already when he abandoned their besieged position.  At one point, Bell says,

. . . you go into battle it’s a blood oath to look after the men with you and I dont know why I didnt. I wanted to. When you’re called on like that you have to make up your mind that you’ll live with the consequences. But you dont know what the consequences will be. You end up layin a lot of things at your door that you didnt plan on.

This passage employs the standard rhetorical techniques of appealing to logos (logic), pathos (emotion), and ethos (character).

LOGOS: Bell reasons about cause and effect, behavior and consequences. He thinks seriously about how these matters apply not only to him but to other people as well.

PATHOS: Bell shows strong affection and love for his men. His tone, especially when he refers to a “blood oath,” is emotional.

ETHOS: Bell shows his moral, ethical character by revealing his concerns about whether his behavior was right or wrong. He seems sincere and fair-minded in discussing his thoughts. He uses language that is appropriate to his background and personality.

 

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