November 9, 2012
“A Pyrrhic Victory” Analysis
For years there has been the never-ending controversial issue regarding condom being distributed within the United States high schools. January 8, 1994, Anna Quindlen publishes her article, “A Pyrrhic Victory,” in the New York Times, where she states that not allowing condoms to be distributed in high schools is self-defeating, harmful to students, and inconvenient for parents. Quindlen attempts to persuade readers, but is not completely successful.
Quindlen provides a rhetorical example that is intended to demonstrate a need for condom distribution within the schools. She, then, introduces Dr. Cohall as an authority figure and explains that the opt-out idea, from the previous example, is likely to be used. Quindlen provides raw numbers about sexually transmitted diseases and gives specific examples that are intended to demonstrate that parents are not adequately teaching their children. Furthermore, she claims that many of her opponents live in Fantasyland and then provides a specific example that is intended to demonstrate this. Finally, Quindlen claims that condoms are not the real issue, but deeper parent-child difficulties are.
Quindlen was aiming for a specific reaction from the reader. Her main goal is to persuade the reader enough that they will end up viewing her opinion on condom distribution as if it were their own. Because her article reaches out to readers of all ages,
she is hoping that it would move her readers into taking action upon this issue. She wants students in high school to starting demanding that their schools provide them with condoms, and she hopes that those who are faculty at schools stand up and start distributing them. As a result of her article, Quindlen is hoping to make a difference just by publishing her article. In the very first sentence of Quindlen’s article she says, “Pop quiz.” By using his statement she is identifying roles. In school, the teacher is the person who would give a pop quiz after teaching something. So by saying this she creates a subject position that makes her the teacher, and the readers are the students. By stating this phase she is assigning the responsibilities of the teacher and student. Quindlen, as the teacher, has the right to teach that condom distribution is the right thing to do, while the readers are expected to just intake this information as if there are no other options. She provides a scenario of a high school boy who was denied a condom from the school nurse and in result, he got a sexually transmitted disease. After this scenario, she provides a multiple choice question that implies that there is only one correct answer, hers. Although Quindlen has identified who the student and teacher are, her tool fails because students, quite frequently, despise their teachers. By immediately springing a pop quiz on the reader, she has irritated the readers by making them emotionally inferior to her. This tool is inefficient because Quindlen blindsides her readers with unexpected emotion.
Quindlen introduces Dr. Cohall, a pediatrician into her article where she refers to him as a “champion of condom distribution.” Just because Dr. Cohall is a pediatrician does not make him a champion of condom distribution, let alone a champion at all.
Pediatricians work with young children who are not sexually active, therefore sexually transmitted diseases would not be present and there would be no reason to be distributing condoms in that profession. Dr. Cohall later states that there were one hundred and fifty cases of sexually transmitted diseases within the three high school clinics that he put on in 1992. Quindlen rephrases Cohall’s statement and writes it as “150 cases” to purposely catch the readers’ attention and to make them react as if that is a large number of cases. Also, these cases could possibly be a repeated case for the same person. For example, one student...