To Kill A Mockingbird Rhetorical Analysis

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Prose appeals to ethos in this essay by appealing to the reader as a mother, educator, and student. By writing from the perspective of both a student and educator, Prose shows how both are affected by assigned literature. By discussing her own two sons, she appeals to readers who are mothers by expressing her concern about their education.
Prose starts out with such strong language to set the tone of the essay and to establish her stance. She does risk putting of readers who disagree with her by immediately talking from a purely emotional point rather than introducing a logical argument. Readers may take offense with the writing she speaks poorly of; for example, as a reader, I personally disagreed with many of her early statements, particularly her negative, simplistic view of To Kill A Mockingbird, which she writes is, “...a chance to consider thorny issues of race and prejudice from a safe distance and with comfortable certainty...dubious literary merit…” (Prose 3). Her highly emotional critique of the novel is one of the many example when Prose risks irking or downright irritating her readers.
Prose assumes that most high school students do not read on their own and that students do not enjoy the literature they read in school; she also assumes that many students stop reading in their adult life and that what books students read in high school affect them for the rest of their lives.
Prose appeals to logos by citing reading lists, surveys, novels, and plays. She also constructs her argument well, following a clear path. Her personal narratives about her experience with King Lear and the effect Wuthering Heights had on her son also help in the structure and flow of her argument.
As a person who has read quite a few of the plays and novels Prose cites, my opinion of the article was greatly affected by what I had already read. She assumes her audience is well-read and, at the minimum, knows of the books she references. The audience that has not read her novel helps her build her case; they do not have a bias either way and will probably tend to trust her, whereas a reader who has read the book will have already developed their own opinion of the novel and will be able to determine their stance from there.
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