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Rhetorical Writing in Deadly Identities

Oct 01, 2008 870 Words
Rhetorical Writing in “Deadly Identities”

In the article “Deadly Identities” by Amin Maalouf, he uses many types of rhetorical styles which include logos, pathos, and egos. He clearly states that a person can be on the edge of two countries, speaking different languages, and practicing different cultures. He also tries to say that when you come from different countries, you don’t really know where your from. It can be confusing when you come from diverse countries, and being asked the question “where are you from?” Maalouf includes a lot of ethos in his writing. Ethos simply means how credible is the author or how convincing is the author. Using ethos in an essay makes the essay more effective. In my opinion, he is very credible and trustworthy since he himself is from two diverse backgrounds. He says that he’s of Lebanese origin but lived in France. In his article he states: “I have lived on the French soil for 22 years, I drink its water and wine, my hands caress Its old stones everyday, I write my books in French and France could never again be a foreign country even though I was born in Lebanon, lived there until the age of 27 and that Arabic was my first language.” Thinking of someone being trustworthy is when a trusted doctor gives you advice, you may not understand all of the medical reasoning behind the advice, but you nonetheless follow the directions because you believe that the doctor knows what s/he is talking about. Likewise, when a judge comments on legal precedent, audiences tend to listen because it is the job of a judge to know the nature of past legal cases. So when Maalouf speaks about people from different countries, we can say that he is very convincing. Therefore he uses ethos in his article. If you ask a question, is the author making sense? Or is the author persuading you by means of reasoning? And if you answer yes, then the author uses logos. Having a complex identity means coming from more than one background or society. In Maalouf’s article, the effectiveness of his supporting evidence of complex identities is very clear. He gives numerous examples of what complex identity really is, as he includes in his article: “Thinking of a Turk born almost 30 years ago near Frankfurt, and who always lived in Germany and who speaks and writes the German language better than the language of his fathers. To his adopted society, he is not German, to his society of birth; he is no longer really Turkish. Common sense dictates that he could claim to belonging to both cultures.” Maalouf indicates that when someone from more than one country is asked where he is from, he usually says that he is half- half. For example, I was born in Egypt, my father is Egyptian, my mother is Turkish-British, and I lived in the United States for 12 years. I carry the British and Egyptian passport, and have an American green card. When I am asked where I am from, I simply answer, British-Egyptian. When I am in England, I say I’m English, but when I am in Egypt, I say I’m Egyptian. I speak 4 different languages and do not know which is my first language because at home we use all 4. Maalouf describes these people as having a complex identity as he asserts “Whoever claims a more complex identity becomes marginalized.” Pathos is related to the words pathetic, sympathy and empathy. Whenever you accept a claim based on how it makes you feel without fully analyzing the rationale behind the claim, you are acting on pathos. They may be any emotions: love, fear, patriotism, guilt, hate or joy. A majority of arguments in the popular press are heavily dependent on pathetic appeals. The more people react without full consideration for the WHY, the more effective an argument can be. Appeals to pathos touch a nerve and compel people to not only listen, but to also take the next step and act in the world. In Maalouf’s article, he includes just a few pathos. Like for example he says that a Algerian-French man is confused when asked the question, “Where are you from?” so Maalouf states “ If he is encouraged to take upon himself his diversity; on the other side his route can be traumatic if each time he claims he is French, some look at him as a traitor or a renegade, and also if each time he emphasizes his links with Algeria, its history, its culture, he feels a lack of understanding, mistrust or hostility.”

In conclusion, I think overall that the essay was very persuasive. Maalouf was able to make a point without using aggressiveness or harsh language. On the contrary, he was able to connect to us using simple examples and many ideas. He includes that if someone is from more than one place, then that is what they are and not just half. As he implies “At the edge of two countries, two or three languages and several cultural traditions. This is precisely what determines my identity. Would I be more authentic if I cut off a part of myself?”

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