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Fell Birds Falling Essay

980 words - 4 pages

In “Silent Spring”, author and biologist Rachel Carson addresses the threat of deadly poisons, specifically parathion, to not only farm pests, but also to the entire milieu of wildlife in and around farmlands. Carson does well to influence and even configure her reader’s thoughts on the liberal use of pest control through rhetoric so to gain the reader’s support. Although diverse and abundant with rhetoric in her composition, three of the most significant and influential applications of rhetoric are through appeals, multiple rhetorical questions, and hyperbolic generalizations.
As found in all styles of persuasive compositions, the appeals are vivid and thoroughly present here in the forms of ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos, the use of credibility, authority, and/or character to persuade the audience, is used by Carson where she quotes the Fish and Wildlife Service on the dangers of the use of parathion. This not only displays to the reader that another also feels this way about parathion, but it also introduces a highly credible and authoritative establishment that shares this idea. Logos, the reasoning that the audience finds in the media, appeals to the reader’s common sense where Carson logically explains, “The problem could have been solved easily by a slight change in agricultural practice—a shift to a variety of corn with deep set ears not accessible to the birds…” The reader understands that there are better alternatives and may begin to question the morals of the farmers. Immediately after this application of logos, the tone becomes dark and accusative as Carson implements pathos, influence achieved from the manipulation of feelings, desires, or fears, by presenting the farmers as persecutors. She does this by using diction with negative denotations and connotations, stating that “the farmers had been persuaded of the merits of killing by poison” on “their mission of death”, so that the reader would grow angry and possible even vengeful towards the farmers. To put the icing on the cake, Carson wrote, “The results probably gratified the farmers, for the casualty list included some 65,000 red-winged blackbirds and starlings.”
Throughout the composition, Carson uses a total of seven rhetorical questions, most of which are consecutive, to induce to the reader a thought that Carson wants us to consider. One rhetorical question inquires, “And what of human beings?” Carson uses this to introduce a paragraph on the effects of parathion on humans and to question our role in resolving the issue at hand. She continues by delineating an incident in California where workers of an orchard sprayed with parathion became tragically ill after exposure to the poison. “Who kept vigilant watch to tell the innocent stroller that the fields her was about to enter were deadly—all their vegetation coated with a lethal film?” This rhetorical question challenges someone to claim responsibility for the victims of this poison, and it also reminds the...

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