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Essay Prompt: Select a song that you feel is particularly powerful. This song should comment on some political or societal issue. Establish what you feel is the purpose of the song, and how the lyricist uses rhetorical strategies and/or devices to persuade their audience. Additionally, you must explore the context of the song (time/place/political climate etc.).1 attachmentsSlide 1 of 1

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Last 1 First Last Amanda Leannán ENGL 1213 16 November 2020 Rhetorical Analysis of Alexie’s “Superman and Me” Education is an important part of life; many people grow up and believe this statement to be true. One person who believed this is the author Sherman Alexie. Alexie wrote Superman and me to show how education was able to change his life. Alexie effectively uses the rhetorical triangle, hyperbole, and repetition to tell the story of his childhood and to share about the importance of reading. In Superman and Me, Sherman Alexie starts by describing his family when he was younger, and the status his family had. He uses pathos in the rhetorical triangle and lets the reader have an emotional connection to the family. Alexie was a Spokane Indian child and was living with his family on the Spokane Indian Reservation located in Washington State. He grew up being poor and surviving on his parents’ minimum wage jobs, and the government surplus food. He then goes on to tell the reader about his father’s love for reading by sharing that the father bought books with leftover money they had. After describing all of the books his father has, he tells the reader how he found his passion for reading books. Alexie says, “My father loved books, and since I loved my father with an aching devotion, I decided to love books as well.” This quote uses pathos and appeals to the readers’ emotions by using a child’s innocence to show his love of books. This shows the importance of books in his life from a young age and can illustrate it to the audience. Last 2 Throughout the story, Alexie is able to strengthen his credibility and appeals to ethos, providing evidence to his argument. The story is told from his personal experience. This allows the information to become more credible since Alexie has personally experienced the events and is telling it how happened. One example of this is when Alexie says, “Despite all the books I read, I am still surprised I became a writer. I was going to be a pediatrician. These days, I write novels, short stories, and poems. I visit schools and teach creative writing to Indian kids.” This quote lets the reader see that Alexie did not plan on becoming a writer and shows how he uses his talents and gifts to help other Indian kids who have the same passion as he did as a kid. Additionally, Alexie is able to appeal to the reader’s logic using logos. One example of this is when he compares a paragraph to a fence. Alexie says, “I didn’t have the vocabulary to say “paragraph,” but I realized that a paragraph was a fence that held words. The words inside a paragraph worked together for a common purpose. They had some specific reason for being inside the same fence.” Most times, a person will compare something to an object that people can easily understand. By comparing a paragraph to a fence, the reader can easily understand how the author learned what a paragraph is. This also shows the first major building block he had when it came to his education. Him being able to compare paragraphs to a fence allowed him to have a greater understanding of it and made him want to learn more. The author uses many different types of rhetorical devices to enhance the meaning of his story. One of the most important devices he uses is hyperbole. Alexie uses hyperbole to grab the attention of the reader and to create an image that can easily be understood. Alexie describes his house by saying, “Our house was filled with books. They were stacked in crazy piles in the bathroom, bedrooms and living room.” He uses this rhetorical device to exaggerate the number of books in their house so that the reader can have a clear picture of how many books his father Last 3 owned and to show how he was introduced to reading at an early age. Learning to read at a young age made him want to learn more and eventually lead to him wanting to make a life outside of the reservation. However, Alexie also uses hyperbole to emphasize his argument as the story progresses. He uses the phrase “I was trying to save my life” when he is describing how much he read. Reading all of those did not physically save his life. The purpose of this phrase is to emphasize the importance of reading and to give the reader an easier way to understand how much effort Alexie put in to break the idea that Indian children would fail in the “non-Indian world”. He shows how having an education gave him opportunities to change his life for the better. This also gives the opinion that having an education can help anyone who is looking to better their life. Along with hyperbole, the author uses another rhetorical device, repetition. Like hyperbole, Alexie uses repetition to consistently show the effort he put into reading and his education. He shows this when it says, “ I read books late into the night, until I could barely keep my eyes open. I read books at recess, then during lunch, and in the few minutes left after I had finished my classroom assignments.” The author repeats “I read books” and gives instances of when he read. This shows the reader that as a child, Alexie spent most of his free time reading books. Alexie also uses repetition to show the impact education had on his life and how it can impact others. The author shows the reader how he thought of himself and how he was trying his life. Alexie goes on to say, “I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky. I was trying to save my life.” He starts by saying how he was trying to save his life and to make a living in the future. At the end of the story, Alexie repeats the same phrase but changes it to, “I am smart. I am arrogant. I am lucky. I am trying to save our lives.” He goes from talking about how getting education was Last 4 an attempt to save his life to how he is trying to use that same education to save the lives of the future Indian students who grew up in the same conditions as he did. In Superman and Me, Sherman Alexie uses the rhetorical triangle, hyperbole, and repetition to effectively communicate his argument to the reader. If Alexie did not use figurative techniques and devices, you would get tired of reading the story before it was finished. It would be like listening to that college professor everyone hates because they do not make the lectures interesting for the students to listen to. Alexie is able to relate his story to a broad range of people and lets the reader understand how education was an important part of his life. Last 5 Works Cited Alexie, Sherman. “Superman and Me.” The Short Story, Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 1998, www2.umf.maine.edu/mclp/wp-content/uploads/sites/91/2014/06/Lesson-1d-Supermanand-Me.pdf. Flanagan, Mark. “Biography of Sherman Alexie, Jr., Prize-Winning Author and Filmmaker.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, thoughtco.com/profile-of-sherman-alexie851449.
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