“It’s become a sad rite of passage in many American communities, the services held for teenagers killed in auto accidents before they’ve even scored a tassel to hang from the rearview mirror.” Anna Quindlen wrote the article, “Driving to the Funeral,” in the June 11, 2007 issue of Newsweek to make parents think twice before allowing their 16-year-old drive the car. Anna discusses issue on how too often teens are killed in car accidents, and why something should be done about it. With the use of ethos, pathos, and detail, Anna Quindlen illustrates that teens are too young to take on the responsibility of driving and that the solution to our problem is simple: change the legal driving age to 18. Throughout the article, Quindlen uses ethos to make parents question their decision to allow their 16 year old to drive. She even asks right off the bat, “If someone told you that there was one single behavior that would be most likely to lead to the premature death of your kid, wouldn’t you try to do something about it?” Any parent that values morals who is asked a question like that would obviously say yes, but Quindlen asks that for another reason; she’s making them question whether or not they are doing the right thing. To reinforce the same idea she says that “Any reasonable person would respond that a 13-year-old is too young [to drive]. But statistics suggest that’s true of a 16-year-old as well.” Obviously no parent in their right mind would give their 13-year-old the keys to the cars because it not only puts their child at risk but other people as well. Her effective use of ethos within the article helps her gain favor among her readers regarding her wishes to change the legal driving age.
Pathos is also a strong rhetorical device that Quindlen chooses to use in her article. She addresses why some parents would disagree with her wish to move the legal driving age to 18 because that takes away the convenience that comes with giving 16-year-olds keys to the car. However, she turns their argument around by saying, “The only ones who wouldn’t make a fuss are those parents who have accepted diplomas at graduation because their children were no longer alive, traded freedom and mobility for their lives.” Imagining parents having to do that at commencement ceremony is heart-wrenching, which is what Quindlen was going for. She knows that if she wants her readers to take her side in the issue; she has to, in a sense, hit them where it hurts most. From the article, Quindlen easily stirs up emotion again when she says, “The hearse moves in procession followed by the late-model compact cars of young people, boys trying to control trembling lower lips and girls sobbing into one another’s shoulders.” By stating this, she takes advantage of the emotional attachment parents have for their kids in order to persuade them to agree with her. Her use of pathos in this article is very strong because no parent would want to imagine, let alone have to experience a situation like the ones that she describes.
Another rhetorical device Quindlen uses that cannot go unnoticed would be the large amount of detail she includes. Early on in the article she says that, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that neophyte drivers of 17 have about a third as many accidents as their counterparts only a year younger.” Not only did she choose to cite a well known, credible source, she chose to include how big of an impact it might have if parents choose to wait a year before letting their kids drive. Another detail she included regarded the difference between the U.S. and other countries. She says, “In Europe, governments are... tough on driving regulations and licensing provisions; in most countries the driving age is 18.” Even though she leaves out any comparison between the U.S. and countries that choose to have a later driving age, she lets the reader assume that the difference in age is beneficial. She chooses to stress that with age comes responsibility and safety. This helps persuade the reader to rethink the 16-year-old driving age because Quindlen included relevant, convincing details that support her opinion.
In conclusion, in the article, “Driving to the Funeral,” Anna Quindlen uses ethos, pathos, and detail to persuade readers to take her side on the matter of changing the legal driving age to 18. Quindlen was very convincing in how she takes advantage of the strong emotional attachment that her parent readers have for their beloved kids. She paints a picture in their mind of the gruesome outcome that could happen if their teen, or any other teen for the matter, is driving on the road. She also includes relevant and effective details about how other countries are dealing with the issue, and makes the reader question why the U.S. isn’t following in their footsteps. Overall, I think Quindlen accomplished what she intended to when she wrote the article. She effectively communicates that in order to save the lives of the younger generation, the legal driving age must change.