In her essay, “About Men” (1984), Gretel Ehrlich claims that men are not as tough as they seem. Ehrlich creates the framework of her essay through casual analysis, imagery, and tone. Through the use of personal experiences and first person perspective, she shows casual analysis. Through her word choice and specific details, imagery is shown. And through the use of specific details, tone is revealed.
Ehrlich’s essay is written in a casual analysis of how cowboys are perceived. Through her use of first person, Ehrlich creates a one-on-one experience with the reader. Ehrlich also uses her own personal experience as if telling a story to the reader. Through sharing her experiences, Ehrlich is able to create a bond between herself and the reader.
Through the use of specific words, such as “pilgrimage” (360) and “conquest” (367), imagery is created. Both words are filled with meaning; “pilgrimage” gives the image of a great trek and “conquest” produces the thought of victory and power. Ehrlich creates visual scenes by using specific details, akin to how she describes how toughness is interpreted as “weathered skin, calloused hands, a squint in the eye, and a growl in the voice” (368).
Ehrlich writes in a relatively denotative formal style. Her intellectual vocabulary contributes to a dignity of tone, while some of her words romanticize her cowboy friends, describing “that one caress of the face or one ‘I love you’ will peal for a long while” (369). The formal diction that Ehrlich uses reveals her attitude toward the subject. Ehrlich thinks highly of her cowboy friends and it shows in her elevated word choice, as in “androgynous” (368), “stoicism” (368), and “laconic” (368).
In “About Men” Ehrlich potently uses imagery and diction to convince her readers that cowboys are not the tough, gruff men on the inside as they seem to be on the outside.