The Devil’s Highway
By Luis Alberto Urrea
The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea traces the journeys of twenty-six men traveling across the border through one of the most treacherous deserts known to man “The Devil’s Highway.” The author’s purpose was to let the world be aware of the events going on all around, with the simple modes of persuasion (pathos, ethos, and logos) Urrea makes you consider what worlds, political and economic, have we created that push humans into impossible journeys? What borders have we imposed, both geopolitical and cultural, that separate human beings so completely? The author’s narrative, ripe with horrifying descriptions, is nonetheless told with compassion appealing to the emotions of the audience in his argument. The greater part of the book follows these men on their unlucky journey through the desert, and how each one is drained of their money, water, hopes and dreams, and for some, life. The author uses compelling descriptions of imagery; the taste of urine, the sight of mummified corpses, and the anguish of losing one's son are all strikingly portrayed. The reader finds themselves horrified each time death reaches another victim of the Devil’s Highway, forcing you to think about the family waiting in Mexico dreaming of a better life. At the beginning of the book Urrea lists the possessions of the dead (“John Doe # 37: no effects, John Doe # 44: Mexican bills in back pocket, a letter in right front pocket, a brown wallet in left front pocket”) these specific details provided are emotional responses to give the readers every last detail of the man and his possessions. Another technique Urrea uses that affects the audiences emotions is grammatical persons, Urrea often switches into second-person point-of-view so the reader imagines that he or she is going through the stages of hypothermia themselves. “Your muscles, lacking water, feed on themselves. They break down and start to rot. Once rotting in you, they dump rafts of...
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