Brent Staples's Use Of Irony In 'Just Walk On By'

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Throughout his passage, “Just Walk on By”, Brent Staples sends the message that discrimination has affected the lives of many in several negative ways. He particularly uses irony and satire as tools to prove his point, using them almost like a verbal blade to cut through public image and stereotypes, as well as his proficient use of powerful diction and syntax to strike rememberable points into the reader’s mind.

Staple’s use of irony is very simple yet effective. His message is that he is not a stereotypical black criminal, so he portrays himself as one to show how ridiculous that it really is. When he says “My first victim was a woman”, he tries to conjure up images of a stalker or a murderer or even just a plain old mugger, which is what the stereotype of a large, black man, like he explains that he is immediately following this statement. They are expected to be criminals, and so he, ironically, portrays himself as one to prove that he, in fact, isn’t. His explanation of him just wanting to go on a stroll to work off some of his excess energy makes it obvious that he isn’t this type of person, but the way he presents himself makes it seem like he is. What this does to the reader is show them that they already had a disposition toward the viewpoint he was trying to disprove, as they were quick to jump to that conclusion. An extremely critical use of satire in Staple’s argument can be found in his statement about how he was unsure how he had “reached the ripe old
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