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A Rhetorical Analysis of John Updike's The First Kiss

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In the essay titled “The First Kiss,” author John Updike portrays baseball as a love-hate relationship with its fans. Updike effetely conveys his message by appealing to pathos using metaphors, personification, and rhetorical questions. He begins with a metaphor stating, “The many-headed monster called the Fenway Faithful yesterday resumed its romance with 25 youngish men in red socks who last year broke its monstrous big heart.” He describes the fans of baseball as a many-headed monster implying that they are aggressive from the passion that they feel for that sport. He goes on by saying that they resumed their romance with the ones who broke they heart. That suggests that even though the team had many losses last season, they will still be devoted to them at the beginning of next season. He then begins to express how the love turns to hate by stating, “braced for the first kiss of another prolonged entanglement,” then asks a rhetorical question, “who can forget the ups and downs of last year’s fling?” he refers to the first hit of the baseball season as the first kiss, and the first kiss is always he sweetest. Next he uses personifications expressing that baseball did the “cruelest tease.” He’s referring to their great win streak against their number one enemy, the Yankees, but ends up losing to them because of a cheap home run. Updike displays how fed up the team was by exclaiming, “Enough. You’ll never get us to care again, Red Sox.” He puts emphasis on the word “enough” by making it a one word sentence. He does this to show how sick and tired the fans and they are at their last straw. Updike then returns back to the love between the fans and baseball by stating, “But monster have short memories, elastic hearts, and very foolable faculties.” Once again he refers the fans as monsters because he defines monsters of having short memories and elastic hearts; they quickly forget about all the bad that has happened in the past and will continue to adore them. Therefore, by using metaphors, personifications, and rhetorical questions about the ups and downs of relationships, Updike effectively conveys the message that there’s a love-hate relationship between baseball and its fans.

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