Broken Lives by Estelle Blackburn is a relevant expository text that through research has lead to a solid argument, 19 year old John Button was wrongfully convicted of killing his 17 year old girlfriend in a hit-run.
In her efforts to influence her readers of such views, Blackburn has entered into the world of a serial killer, presenting a credible, solid account of these events and their surrounding matters. In result the reader accepts the book as a genuine explanation of an increasingly explicable miscarriage of justice. The reader now feels obliged to adopt Blackburns views.
The notion of justice is Blackburns principal value, and her attitudes express the unfairness of Buttons imprisonment. Together they underline the purpose of the book; to convince the public of buttons innocence and Cookes guilt in the death of Rosemary Anderson, and hopefully have Button pardoned. Blackburn makes it clear that there were inconsistencies throughout the police investigation and a failure of justice in the High Court etc. The police are seen as incompetent.
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Being an expository, non-fiction text, credibility is essential if the reader is to share such attitudes with the author. This credibility is primarily established by a list of sources in the preface and acknowledgments sections of the book. For example the police files of Eric Edgar Cooke and John Button.
Photographs of the involved and maps of the city of Perth are also included. A sense of credibility is created using times, dates, streets and names mentioned internally in the text, demonstrating the extent of Blackburns investigations. The reader is now in a position to seriously consider all information presented.
Example of such detail: Cooke left home at 12:30 p.m., driving his 1956 FJ Holden to Adelaide terrace and parking outside Fairlanes.
Broken Lives is a book where a strong audience appeal is desired, and the book has succeeded in this area. The blurb makes use of emotive language, capturing the reader with stimulating words like thought-provoking and vicious attacks on women.
An important feature, appealing to anyone, is how such a large book is broken up into short chapters that can be absorbed easily. The exciting titles of these chapters are listed in the Table of Contents to attract the reader.
A recent addition to the book is the Epilogue chapter, which appeals to the reader as it describes the repercussions of Cookes crimes and the current condition of the families and survivors affected. For example: Glenys Peak married and had four children. She lives in the W.A. wheatbelt
In many ways the driving force of Blackburns argument lies in the selection of detail. Her graphic representations of Cookes crimes exist to motivate the view of Cooke as a violent murderer, able to choose any young women and take her life. Meticulous detail of these dreadful events, especially the various hit-runs shock the reader. Cooke is then highlighted as the obvious man responsible for Rosemarys death and Buttons innocence is developed.
The course of events relating to Rosemarys death is detailed as to allow the reader to see how both Cooke and Button were involved. For example: John was distraught. Rosemary was striding away from him down Redfern Street and across the road, insisting on walking home. The mention of location and Buttons prior emotions causes the reader to understand the events of the incident and find Cooke to be the killer.
The Language used is simple, Appealing to many and is sometimes reminiscent of the 50s and 60s when the book is set. Transcripts in the court scenes are quite formal and include legal terms. For example: subject of preliminary proceedings for committal for trial
More importantly, subjective descriptions draw the reader into the pain and suffering of the victims: the radiator grille broke off as it slammed into her leg The language truly takes the reader back in time to the small town Perth was. The reader is then in the right position to see the truth of what happened many years ago with clarity, due to such language.
The structure of Broken Lives is basically chronological, but is preceded with Cookes eventful execution. The subsequent chapters then reveal how Cooke came to be executed, why Button and Beamish were wrongfully sent to jail, and the events after Cookes execution.
Blackburn begins the book by tying Cooke and Button Together whenever possible, in-order to contrast the two. This background information of their early years of life serves as arguments themselves. Cooke was clearly traumatised by the abuse and rejection of his alcoholic father. He was born with deformities and considered himself to be a freak. Button however, was the son of a tough hard-working man, and was in love with ballroom dancing.
The asymmetry between both characters is gradually developed page by page, through juxtaposing parallel events in their lives. Cooke was well into a life of crime, whilst Button was floating in a world of romance.
Cookes further crimes, and Buttons eventual involvement with Cookes victim Rosemary, creates the opportunity for the reader to point the finger at Cooke amongst the chaos. The resulting investigation of this specific hit-run is an example of dramatic irony.
The argumental tone in this text is developed quickly, and continued until the end. It is used when describing the course of events leading to the conviction of Button, Where it can influence the readers to confide in Blackburns views. This sympathetic tone is generated in the chapter Death Row: His entire world was now a stark concrete cell measuring six yards by three yards This shows how Button suffered, Paying for a crime he never committed. His thoughts are expressed: He so wanted them to understand that he hadnt done itand He was frustrated that he couldnt tell them the truth. This reconstruction of the thoughts Button most likely had at the time, satisfies the readers of his innocence, and demonstrates his genuine love for Rosemary.
Broken Lives appealed to me because of its unusual genre of true crime. The characters are quite colourful, and gave the book a narrative feel. Cooke is portrayed as an outcast, and shown to be capable of disgusting violence, yet I feel I am not the only one to feel sorry for him. I pictured Cooke as a child, lost in a world that did not agree with his own.
I see Button as a gentleman, contrasting with Cooke, but in a strange way they are both the same, both born into a life that would eventually change them forever. Both victims of ugly situations, Cookes abuse and Buttons Wrongful conviction. I believe the most Broken life overall was that of Eric Edgar Cookes.
In Conclusion Broken Lives is one argument that begs to be heard, and has been. Due to the saturation of credibility and the excellent selection of detail etc, Estelle Blackburn has surely encouraged thousands to adopt her views, and John Button has been acquitted of previous charges.
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A Relevant Expository Text of Broken Lives by Estelle Blackburn. (2023, Feb 17). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/a-relevant-expository-text-of-broken-lives-by-estelle-blackburn/
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