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How Perspectives Influence the Expression

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How Perspectives Influence the Expression
Capturing the anguish and agony within those who suffer from illness is an exceedingly difficult task, but essayists Kate Butler and Rachel Riederer have harnessed their unique literary abilities in vastly different ways to achieve the same ambitious objective. Butler’s haunting elegy
What Broke My Father’s Heart portrays the father’s pain through the daughter’s eyes since the father has almost lost consciousness while Riederer’s Patient is a visceral portrayal of her own injurious accident. The different perspectives offered by both writers result in What Broke My Father’s Heart reading as a clinical reflection on illness with an emphasis on choices and consequences, while the power of Patient is derived from its ability to describe illness in a more direct way, conveying both the current physical and emotional pain with vivid descriptions. The different tense Butler and Riederer use in these two essays can be suggestive of how the story is structured and sometimes gives readers different feelings. Butler mainly uses past tense throughout What Broke My Father’s Heart.The essay is opened by tracing back to a certain time in some earlier years, “ONE OCTOBER AFTERNOON three years ago”(Butler 12), and then it jumps into “November 13, 2001”(Butler 14) then “shortly after New Year’s 2003”(Butler 17) then “In the summer of 2006”(Butler 18) then “By the summer of 2007”(Butler 20) then “In mid-April 2008” (Butler 22) and finally the time stops at “Last August”(Butler 24).It is like memoirs that records how everything is going on (especially the father’s illness) along a long time, making the reader feel somewhat distant. While Riederer uses present tense for the whole passage. The beginning of the essay “THE BUS WILL HAVE TO MOVE”(Riederer 165) takes readers to the time when the car accident just happens. It is such a short time from Riederer being hit by a bus to being carried to the hospital that even herself thinks “this isn’t a real event”(Riederer 166).



Cited: Butler, Katy. “What Broke My Father 's Heart.” The Best American Essays 2011. Edward Danticat and Robert Atwan. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2011. 12-24. Print. Riederer, Rachel. “Patient.” The Best American Essays 2011. Edward Danticat and Robert Atwan. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2011. 165-179. Print.

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