September 19, 2011
My Rhetorical Analysis: “Why Don’t We Complain?”
Is pleading the 5th really the best policy when confronted with a potentially awkward situation? The reasons why many Americans choose not to take advantage of their freedom of speech still remains a mystery. “Why Don’t We Complain?”, published in the 1960’s by William F. Buckley Jr., an educated editor, writer and television host, is an attempt to persuade his audience that they are reluctant and hesitant about speaking up when faced with circumstances that demand our attention. If we desire an alternative outcome to these situations then we must be the one who stands up for ourselves instead of waiting for someone else to do it. Although Buckley never “summoned up the purposive indignation to get up out of his seat and file his complaint” (559), his personal experiences and expert testimony persuade the audience to believe that he is not the only one dependent on others to complain. To reach an educated, middle-aged American, Buckley’s writing was persuasive because of his strong use of evidence and tone. Buckley shares several relatable anecdotes with his audience, all of which are followed by a descriptive analysis of the event and his beliefs of why “we are all increasingly anxious…to be unobtrusive and reluctant to make our voices heard” (559). On one occasion, while on the train, Buckley stated that he was “incapable of making a discreet fuss” (558) because his seatmate had made him feel too intimidated to voice his complaint even though he was uncomfortably hot. Also, on page 559, Buckley recounts an instance when he and his wife had gone to the movie. The movie was out of focus and after bringing this to his wife’s attention, she responded with, “Be quiet” and Buckley did just that. He reflects that “everybody suffered on that occasion” (559) because the movie ended out of focus, just as it had begun, because everyone waited for someone else to get up and try to...
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