In his essay, Complexion, Richard Rodríguez uses the rhetorical modes of description and symbolism. The description gives the work a story-like flow, while the symbolism makes the reader more able to experience the emotions and feelings present within the authors “complexion.” The utilization of the stylistic tools aids in conveying the true message of the author’s claim which is that he received mass racism out in the society. Since the essay is an account of his own experiences with racism, the description works well to take the reader to different periods of time and events in Rodriguez’s life.
The use of description allows the essay to be regarded as a story because of its flow and the audience is then able to connect to the essay. Rodriguez experienced a different kind of discrimination, when he was young, he was a victim of racist name calling, “A teenager drove past shouting, Hey, Greaser! Hey, Pancho!, I pee on dirty Mexicans….”(Rodriguez 450), this scene allows the audience to visualize and understand the hatred that prospered through the “gringos” onto the Mexicans. Also, it allows the reader to acknowledge that this was an obvious attack on the writer’s complexion and culture. Although he was harassed, he never would stand up towards his schoolmates. “I would be paralyzed with embarrassment, unable to return the insult”(Rodriguez 450), this allows the audience to realize that he didn’t react to such a clear act of racism because he was smart and thought of the consequences, however, the author was still haunted by his complexion. Description works as a tool by allowing the audience to fully comprehend and understand the abuse he took from society.
The author’s complexion is symbolic and played a vital role throughout his childhood life. His attitude about himself during his childhood was largely influenced by his family, especially his mother, “Dark