The Britannica Dictionary defines the word strangers as “people with whom one has had no personal acquaintance, outsiders, or newcomers in a place or locality.” Toni Morrison, however, describes a different definition of the word through her 1998 essay, “Strangers,” written to introduce the book A Kind of Rapture by Robert Bergman. Through proper use of repetition, rhetorical questions, and imagery, Morrison establishes that there is no such thing as simple strangers, only reflections of us in each other. She also defines humanity and argues that there is a bit of each of us in everybody else, therefore there is no reason to be fearful of the strangers around us. Her argument is only emphasized when she effectively creates an eased, narrative pace and successfully persuades her audience that we should not develop an unjust opinion of the one we may be sitting next to today: a stranger.
While it is certainly easy to develop an opinion of someone you have never met before, Morrison wants us to understand that in doing so, you are essentially judging and almost objectifying yourself. This point is first made through her repetition of “I am, I see, and I feel” in paragraphs one and two of her essay. While this repetition slows down the narrative pace and creates feelings of ease and relaxation as she describes a random woman she has seen down at the river, it also adds emphasis to the point that as humans, we are only concerned with what we see, what we feel, and what we want to know. With this mindset, we are pushing ourselves further away from actually understanding a stranger and understanding ourselves. Morrison continues to support her argument through the use of repetition again by focusing on another common expression.
The word language is often repeated in Morrison’s essay, as she wants to prove that while language is perhaps a barrier in some occasions, there is no reason why we are not capable of saying a simple hello. She adds that “language...
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