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How does the style of Silent Spring influence Rachel Carson's purpose?

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By writing a popular nonfiction book, Rachel Carson hoped to sound a wake-up call that would reach and affect the maximum number of people. She wanted to combine scientific evidence with compelling stories and vivid descriptions to make her text relatable.

While Carson provides ample, well documented empirical data, she also tells elaborate tales that read like classic folk tales or parables. Using devices of parallelism and inversion in the first chapter, she paints two mirror-image pictures of two possible scenarios.

In addition, Carson deploys a three-pronged rhetorical strategy with ethos, logos, and pathos to get her message across and stimulate the reader to take action. Combining appeals to reason (logos) and to emotion (pathos), she captures the reader's attention and persuades them of the value of the information. Through using ethos, an ethical or moral basis, she encourages them to take future actions rather than react with resignation to the unsatisfactory status quo, and thus participate in forestalling ecological apocalypse.

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Though a learned biologist, Rachel Carson wrote her book in a style that is accessible to the general public. For example, she only included citations to research articles in an appendix at the end of the book (so that they wouldn't get in the way of the general reader), and her book often reads like a story. It begins with an allegory that explains to the reader how a pristine American town, resplendent with nature, is destroyed by a mysterious blight that silences the birds. Carson does not name this plight--which is the use of pesticides--but the allegory she establishes helps readers understand the information she is to present later in the book and quickly establishes the damage that pesticides have caused to the environment. She then establishes the story, in subsequent chapters, of how pesticides, not originally needed by farmers who planted a diverse set of crops, came to destroy the ecosystem. While she includes complex scientific information--for example about the structure of carbon compounds--the reader can still understand her main points, written in layman's terms and presented in a step-by-step manner, without understanding all of the science behind them. 

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