A Rhetoric Analysis of:
“The Obligation to Endure”
By Rachel Carson
The following involves the second chapter of Carson’s book, Silent Spring that was written in 1962. In this chapter Carson argues persuasively the adverse impacts of pesticides upon the environment and the risks on human health and the environment associated with these “genetic invaders” (Carson, 1962). Many of the extremely diverse people from Carson’s audience targeted were under the impression that chemicals like DDT, at that time in history, were safe for their health. Carson reconciles and attempts to persuade the public to consider the idea that DDT, which in the 1950s and 60s was one of the many chemical pesticides being manufactured and sold to individuals for use on their home lawns, were indeed unsafe for applications on lawns and around children. Carson presents the argument suggesting perhaps human beings would not want to spray pesticides such as DDT around homes, children, and offices without ascertaining any adverse dangers and risks associated with these pesticides. Carson addresses these understandable concerns utilizing logical, emotional, and ethical appeal. Carson expresses her concerns in the thesis statement, “To a large extent, the physical form and the habits of the Earth’s vegetation and its animal life have been molded by the environment,” (Carson, 1962).
“Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life?” (Carson, 1962) Rachel Carson’s argumentative essay is written to enlighten humanity on the evil being bestowed upon the Earth’s microscopic worlds and biological systems via the invasions of harmful mutating chemicals that will potentially affect future generations and their health. Carson proposes insecticides initially made to function as bug repellants and aid in protecting valuable crops has become victim to Darwin’s principles. Insects adapt genetically and Carson feared that insects like mosquitos, among others types, may surpass us in their superior ability to overcome genetic challenges by bouncing back in more numerous quantities contributing to the ongoing survival of their species regardless of the genetic chemicals. If insects were suddenly able to adapt to chemicals this would mean they would also adapt to vaccines that protect us. While appealing to “logos, ethos, and pathos” (Paull, 2013) Carson explains how the “… remaining harmful chemicals pass by underground streams… until they emerge… and work unknown harm on those who drink from once pure wells.” (Carson, 1962) Unless a solution can be organized into existence these conditions will persist ultimately threatening future generations and could presumably lead to disastrous events for humanity. Carson says our obligation of endurance is essentially paired with a specific need for a responsible and logical solution to “the matter-at-hand consisting of a contaminated Earth ingrained with the ongoing contamination of rivers, streams and seas via these dangerous and lethal man-made genetic materials that get into DNA segments and clog up our primal informative circuitry” (Carson, 1962). Carson describes the slippery slope when she compares chemicals sprayed on croplands or forests to Strontium 90. Carson appeals to our emotions (pathos) by arousing feelings towards the future generations and safety our children; the hardships they may endure unless a solution is accomplished. Carson explains: “Strontium 90, released through nuclear explosions into the air... and in time takes up its abode in the bones of a human being, there to remain until his death... similarly, chemicals sprayed on croplands... entering into living organisms… they combine into new forms that kill vegetation, sicken cattle, and work unknown harm on those who drink from once pure wells” (Carson, 1962). Carson subtly conveys her writing in just the right writing...
Bibliography: Carson, R. (1962). Silent Spring. Chapter 2. How ‘Silent Spring’ Ignited the Environmental Movement.
Paull, John (2013) "The Rachel Carson Letters and the Making of Silent Spring"
Smith & Hockenbury. Psychology. Worth Publishers, 1984.
Trewavas, T., Leaver, C., Ames, B., Lachmann, P., Tren, R., Meiners, R., Miller, H.I. (2012). "Environment: Carson no 'beacon of reason ' on DDT". Nature 486 (7404): 473.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document