Professor Lynette Leidner
12 Dec 14
Father and Son
In the short story “My Son the Marine” by Frank Schaeffer, There are many points that the author is trying to display through the rhetorical device pathos and ethos. He uses pathos to put a human face on the subject of loved ones going off to the military, and the hardships the family goes through due to this decision. He uses ethos to display his attitude from beginning to end. He starts at the beginning when the marines talk to his son and he ends with his son telling him he loves him and that he has a job to do. During his account of the events he feels disapproval in the beginning, despair, worry and helplessness because he cannot help his son. This is where he uses pathos to appeal to the emotional part of the audience’s human nature. The author is ultimately trying to display the hardships of having a loved one in the military and to make the audience understand what it’s like even if they don’t have someone in the military. Using pathos is not only using the reader’s emotions to compliment the effect of this argument, but it is a very complex and dangerous form of rhetorical devices because of word choice, audience or situation, manipulative abilities, and the use of other rhetorical devices.
The word choice in this story has been though through very carefully because he does not want to seem callused. He wants to remain open and understanding so he avoids any negative diction and only uses uplifting words and phrases. This makes it seem as if he is proud of his son in the end and does not seem like he condemns him, but in the beginning he is somewhat disapproving because of his lack of knowledge and fear of what might happen in the military. In the beginning of the story Schaeffer is not all that supportive of his son because he doesn’t want to send him off, and because of his lack of knowledge of military. In the middle of the story Schaeffer states, “At the recruiting office, I looked at my son as he shook the staff sergeant’s hand and thought, what is he trying to prove? (Schaeffer 630)” This shows his disapproval in a sense and also shows his reluctance to let his son go. However, in the end of the story after John speaks with his father the author ends his story with these words, “There were fire-fighters, cops, and military personnel struggling to find survivors and thousands of dead…At least I knew I could look the men and women in uniform in the eye. My son, after all was one of them (Schaeffer, 632).” By sliding those last words at the end of the story it confirms the fact that he is indeed proud of his son for the choices he made. Even though he may have been terrified and feeling helpless he was still a proud father of a marine. Having used positive and uplifting words and phrases all throughout this story Schaeffer created a positive and calm tone in which people felt comfortable reading. Tone is reliant on diction or word choice because without words you can’t possibly determine the tone of the piece. Schaeffer’s tone is calm and collected even through the hardships he is going through. His tone ultimately achieves the effect he wishes it to and the language is towards all the groups he wishes to effect.
Schaeffer as a military parent is primarily talking to the military community. He relates with those that have gone or are going through this difficult time. His primary audience may be the military community, but his story will touch those who do not understand the hardships of the situation. He touches the younger and older generations by the way his story is written. He obviously took a great deal of time to figure out how he wanted to relay his story and who he wanted to touch. Touching many people, even if they are not going through this, may not have been his original goal but he has effectively achieved this. His situation is...
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