The Power of Context: Human Behavior

Topics: New York City, Criminology, Rhetoric Pages: 4 (909 words) Published: November 28, 2014
Sarah Dunn
Intermediate English Comp
9/25/14

The Power of Context: Human Behavior In The Power of Context, author Malcolm Gladwell looks at the Broken Window Theory to explain the period of intense cleaning and maintenance of a crime infested New York City that was able to reduce crime rates. In the power of context, Gladwell paints a vivid picture of New York City in the 1980’s when crime rates were at their highest and gives you a glimpse into the most frightening site where most murders and robberies occur, the subway.

Malcolm Gladwell attempts to persuade his audience about how people’s immediate environment influence how they behave. He uses various techniques and rhetorical strategies including descriptive detail, statistics and experiments. These strategies are effective because they create a detailed picture for his readers and help his readers better understand the point he is trying to make. The overall impact of the argument is effective because many of his examples are strongly supported by facts, credible sources, and emotional tones and languages.

Gladwell effectively uses descriptive details in order to create a clear image for his readers. For starters, Gladwell uses the story of Bernard Goetz as a hook to draw the reader into reading the essay. This story contains descriptive details starting with the physical appearance of Goetz. On page 149, he says “He was as slender man in his late thirties, with sandy-colored hair and glasses, dressed that day in jeans and a windbreaker.” By using these details such as “slender” and “sandy-colored”, Gladwell is trying to show that Goetz was an average man just like everyone else on the subway. These vivid illustrations help the reader to create an image on his appearance during the incident on the subway.

Gladwell also effectively uses descriptive details on page 150 when he says “Pictures of the crime scene, taken by the police, show that the car...
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