Use of Rhetorical Appeals and Diction in Richard Wright’s Autobiographical Work, Black Boy

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Use of Rhetorical Appeals and Diction in Richard Wright’s Autobiographical Work, Black Boy In his autobiographical work, Black Boy, Richard Wright wrote about his battles with hunger, abuse, and racism in the south during the early 1900's. Wright was a gifted author with a passion for writing that refused to be squelched, even when he was a young boy. To convey his attitude toward the importance of language as a key to identity and social acceptance, Wright used rhetorical techniques such as rhetorical appeals and diction. In Black Boy, Wright used many rhetorical appeals. For example, in passage one, Wright was describing his first day on a job working for a white family. The white woman gave him stale bread and moldy molasses for…show more content…
She blatantly stated that he would never be a writer, implying that no black person ever could. Wright never went back to work there because the woman had crushed his dream. This is an appeal to credibility, or ethos appeal. This piece of the passage is not an example of being credible, but instead demonstrates the white woman’s view of Richard Wright’s lack of credibility and thus illustrates the racism that gripped the white southerners. Wright used rhetorical appeals to convey his attitude toward the importance of language as a key to identity and social acceptance. Richard Wright also used many forms of diction in Black Boy. In the second passage, Wright used varying forms of language, switching between colloquial, or formal style of writing, and popular style, used in dialogue. For example, when describing what some of his childhood friends said about a church revival he switched from coloquial style to popular style: “We don’t holler and moan in church anymore. Come to church and be apart of the community.” From switching between the two styles, Wright allows the reader to almost hear the accents of the people speaking. Wright also used strong verbs in the second passage to describe his reluctance in attending the revival. For example, verbs like “starved,” “seduced,” and “allowed” all convey Wright’s desire to be associated with people, while verbs like “persuade” and “begged” illustrate his great reluctance at joining the church. Wright’s
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