Rhetorical Devices in Night Walker by Brent Staples

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Brent Staples uses vivid language and rhetorical devices to express and convey the elements of fear, anger, and violence. We all make many decisions based on past experiences. That’s how we learn to avoid touching a hot stove burner for example. It’s also about how we learn to do things that bring us pleasure. So we all develop discriminating behavior, but when that discrimination is based purely on the color on that person’s skin, or his ethnicity, without knowing anything else about that person, it becomes racism. Being a malicious looking black man, walking the streets at night may give someone the idea that you’re a rapist, killer, robber, or even a stalker. Nearly everyone has experienced these same emotions before and each has reacted similarly with varying degrees. Immediately in the first paragraph, Staples depicts a woman walking and the fear she experiences dude to stereotyping. In the story he relies on imagery and common experiences to emphasize this emotion. “She cast back a worried glace.”(paragraph.1) That imagery perfectly conveys the emotion of fear. When you’re walking alone at night and someone “sketchy” follows you, it’s easy to draw on your past experiences and conclude you should be worried. Staples then uses sarcasm to display his disapproval of the woman’s false impression. “She picked up her pace and was soon running in earnest. Within seconds she disappeared into the street.”(paragraph.1) Due to his ethnicity, the woman feared that she was going to be a victim of violence. His choices of words convey a negative connotation and reinforce the fear factor

Living in a small town where gang warfare, street knifings, and murders are common, these circumstances can inflict trauma and ingrain hostile emotions. “I grew up one of the good boys, had perhaps a half-dozen first fights. In retrospect, my shyness of combat has a clear source.”(paragraph.6) Staples emphasizes that the violence experiences he witnessed as a kid were the root causes for...
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