Rhetorical Devices in Night Walker by Brent Staples
Brent Staples uses vivid language and rhetorical devices to express and convey the elements of fear, anger, and violence. We all make many decisions based on past experiences. That’s how we learn to avoid touching a hot stove burner for example.
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It’s also about how we learn to do things that bring us pleasure. So we all develop discriminating behavior, but when that discrimination is based purely on the color on that person’s skin, or his ethnicity, without knowing anything else about that person, it becomes racism.
Being a malicious looking black man, walking the streets at night may give someone the idea that you’re a rapist, killer, robber, or even a stalker. Nearly everyone has experienced these same emotions before and each has reacted similarly with varying degrees. Immediately in the first paragraph, Staples depicts a woman walking and the fear she experiences dude to stereotyping. In the story he relies on imagery and common experiences to emphasize this emotion. “She cast back a worried glace. ”(paragraph. 1) That imagery perfectly conveys the emotion of fear.
When you’re walking alone at night and someone “sketchy” follows you, it’s easy to draw on your past experiences and conclude you should be worried. Staples then uses sarcasm to display his disapproval of the woman’s false impression. “She picked up her pace and was soon running in earnest. Within seconds she disappeared into the street. ”(paragraph. 1) Due to his ethnicity, the woman feared that she was going to be a victim of violence. His choices of words convey a negative connotation and reinforce the fear factor
Living in a small town where gang warfare, street knifings, and murders are common, these circumstances can inflict trauma and ingrain hostile emotions. “I grew up one of the good boys, had perhaps a half-dozen first fights. In retrospect, my shyness of combat has a clear source. ”(paragraph. 6) Staples emphasizes that the violence experiences he witnessed as a kid were the root causes for the acute effects imprinted on his psyche. “As a boy I saw countless tough guys locked away; I have buried several, too.
They were babies, really – a teenage cousin, a brother of 22, a childhood friend in his mid-20s all gone down in episodes of bravado played out in the streets. ”(paragraph. 6) Staples uses personal stories of conflict and pathos to illustrate violence and the emotional/physical price it has on people and their attitudes. Being subject to racism and discrimination is demeaning and debilitating. In fact they can lead you to anger. “Relatively speaking, however, I never fared as badly as another black male journalist. ”(paragraph. ) Stemming from racism is common when someone is mistreated or falsely accused of something because of their race. “Mistaking the reporter for the killer, police officers hauled him from his car at gunpoint and but for his press credentials would probably have tried to book him. Such episodes are not uncommon. Black men trade tales like this all the time. ”(paragraph. 8) Staples portrays anger using euphemism and implies that the anger sterns from stereotyping of African Americans. These real life experiences and the vivid imagery give the reader an acute awareness into the harmful effects of racism..
Fear, violence, and anger brought on by racism all provide the foundation of the story “Night Walker” by Brent Staples. The author uses personal life experiences and vivid imagery to ingress upon the reader the impact of discrimination. Not only does he use rhetorical devices, he uses concrete details to create a stronger more profound effect on the reader. Being subjected to racism is demeaning and debilitating and results in a toxic environment for the person being subjected to these acts of ignorant discrimination.