“The Squint and the Wail” is an essay by Michael Hsu. Hsu, a Taiwanese American author and editor, wrote this essay in order to express his views on the negative connotations that occur with some of the racially charged objects present in society. More specifically, the essay deals with the stereotypical nature of The Chin Family. The Chin Family is the name of Stefano Giovannoni’s tabletop collection, which includes salt and pepper shakers that have the caricaturized facial expressions of Chinese people (Giovanni, 404). In this essay, Hsu talks about the appalling nature of the stereotypical features and how those features pose a derogatory inference to Chinese culture, but then reciprocates his views on the tabletop collection to a more neutral stance. Hsu’s main claim is that it is derogatory to exaggerate on the racial-specific physical features of a race and to present that exaggeration to the public under the guise of an everyday tool. Hsu’s piece shows race from a particular perspective and then compares that perspective to the perspectives of the individuals he associates himself with. Hsu’s persuasive approach can be broken down and interpreted by viewing his stance through ethos, pathos, logos, and mythos.
When looking at ethos, one needs to first ask him or herself whether or not the person who is persuading is credible. Hsu, being an Asian-American alone, supports a majority of this credibility. Once the reader is aware that the author of the piece is an Asian-American, then the reader will have a much easier time understanding the author’s claims, views, opinions, facts, and rhetoric. This reason alone is enough for one to trust Hsu. This is based on some underlying psychological factors of the reader. Other aspects of ethos that are more latent and implicit are that Michael Hsu has written for publications such as GQ and The New York Times. Those publications are very popular and have had many notable contributors. It is because of this ethos that Hsu can comfortably utilize his rhetoric in order to convey his views. Hsu opens up the essay by referring to The Chin Family tabletop collection with the rhetorical question “Why not call it the Ching Chong Family?” (pp. 405) It can be observed at this point that the proper acquisition of ethos is important for implementing the other facets of rhetoric, namely pathos, logos, and mythos. The rhetorical question presented at the beginning of the essay imposes pathos.
The use of the rhetorical question “Why not call it the Ching Chong Family?” appeals to pathos in that it shows the reader the annoyance felt by the author. This can be inferred because the name “Chin” is a very common name in China. However, just because the name of the tabletop collection is a common name shouldn’t mean that it should be viewed as stereotypical. That is a common fallacy. This fallacy can be observed when people label many things as stereotypes. There are many cases where a person or group may have a common attribute that is similar their race or social class or construct. This occurrence is usually based on chance or coincidence but there are people that will jump the gun and label those commonalities stereotypes. It is this illogical reasoning that leads to this fallacy, which in the end leads to the misuse of rhetoric, pathos in this case. Fallacies aside, Hsu’s appeal to pathos is still a generally strong one. It first starts out with the rhetorical question that enables the reader to see the annoyance felt by Hsu. The reader will then be engaged in the remainder of the essay and will have an easier time accepting the third tier of rhetoric, logos.
In this piece, the main instance of logos is seen during the process in which Michael Hsu goes around and asks different backgrounds of people about their views on the racial aspects of the tabletop collection. Many of the European-Americans felt disgusted and...