Morality In Joan Didion's Essay

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Joan Didion uses rhetorical words in her essay “Morality,” to explain her reasons why she viewed morality as social, and established expectation. Didion starts her essay, by presenting emotional appeals to her particular setting. “As it happens, I am in Death Valley, in a room at the Enterprise Motel and Trailer Park, and it is July, and it is hot (Didion 106).” The significance in describing the setting is that it helps create a tone, such that it, evokes emotions of isolation, despair, and loneliness. After describing her setting, Didion states, “A word I distrust more every day, but in my mind veers inflexibility toward the particular (Didion 106).” In this phrase, Didion is introducing her claim that she does not trust the definition of morality. To support her claims,…show more content…
Didion then claims that morality is a “social code”. The usage of the “social code” makes the interpretation of morality, once again, have a negative connotation. The word “social code” implies that morality is not an individual perception, but a social expectation. Then, Didion states her observation that many elders come to live in desert valley to “sing a prayer”. She states, “I cannot hear them and do not want to. What I can hear are occasional coyotes and constant chorus of “Baby the Rain Must Fall” from the jukebox. (Didion 108)” In this reference, Didion is making a figurative connection between the difference in sounds and morality. The ability of not being able to hear the elders sing a prayer may refer to a lack of conformity to the social code. Thus, she references, that she can only hear “Baby the Rain Must Fall”, which was a rock and roll song, that seems to symbolize unconformity, and independence from the social code. Throughout, her essay Didion viewed morality as a principle that is not controlled by self-growth, but by social
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