What is a device of emphasis used in this passage? How does it begin to introduce the author's subject? "In spite of the vast expanse of wilderness in this country, most Canadian children grow up...

What is a device of emphasis used in this passage? How does it begin to introduce the author's subject?

"In spite of the vast expanse of wilderness in this country, most Canadian children grow up in urban settings."

(The article is about kids being afraid of nature.)
Expert Answers
e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The strategy being used here by the writer is one of contrast and contradiction. Opening with a line regarding the "vast expanse" of open spaces in Canada the writer suggests one circumstance. An opposing circumstance is then introduced in the next phrase (children grow up in cities, not open spaces). 

Effectively, the writer is pointing to a contradictory relationship between the first situation and the second. 

Given the fact that open spaces exist in the country, we might reasonably expect people to spread out. We might look at the open spaces as a resource and expect people to take advantage of the resource. In contrast to this expectation, people tend not to spread out and choose to live in cities instead ("squandering the resource" perhaps, according to the writer).

The implication behind the phrase "urban spaces" is intended to be a direct contrast to the "vast expanses" of the countryside. 

The impact of the writer's statement is supposed to be emphasized by the apparent contrast between what we might reasonably assumed given the first circumstance provided in the opening phrase of the initial sentence. 

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The passage is emphasizing the apparent contradiction between the vast amount of wilderness in Canada and the fact that most Canadians live in cities, usually within 100 miles of the US border.

The first device being used to emphasize this is word order. The sentence is introduced with a subordinate clause including the phrase "vast expanse of wilderness." The "point first" structuring and emphasis pattern of most contemporary English prose foregrounds the image of the wilderness and emphasizes the way that the children's lives, rather than being expansive like the wilderness, are circumscribed by their urban environments. 

The phrase "a vast expanse of wilderness" uses a literary device called amplification, using the phrase "vast expanse" to emphasize the quantity of wilderness by adding words that vary and expand the image of wilderness.

Finally, the author is using the figure of comparison, in which one thing (the limitations of the children's lives) is being emphasized by opposing it to something else (the vast wilderness). This is a form of antithesis.