Rhetorical Analysis Of We Were The Mulvaneys

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In the following passage from the novel We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates laments that even though most everything in one’s surrounding is dying, not everyone has managed to find the adequate amount of maturity to accept the fact that they are not immortal, even though the idea of death is difficult to come to terms with. Oates conveys this universal idea and characterizes the narrator through the usage of a depressing tone and dismal imagery.

The tone set in the passage is fairly dark and depressing. An “eleven or maybe twelve,” year old child should not be fixated on the idea that “every heart beat is past and gone.” Children should be enjoying life and dreaming of the future. Kids should be happy. They should have no fear of death.
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From the sky being “the color of lead” to trees that are “partly dead.” The dismal imagery in this passage says a decent amount about how Judd is feeling. It is evident that he not only lonely, but Judd is also anxious. He is stuck in this state of feeling depressed. Which is normal when someone fixates on death as much as Judd has. The season appears to be autumn, since the narrator mentions it “might have been as late as November.” (Line 24.) Fall and winter are known for being depressing seasons. The sun isn’t out as often, the leaves are gone, the trees are dead, and the weather is colder. These seasons are mostly spent inside, but Judd makes his way to a shallow brook where he begins his pondering. He notices the “light is mostly drained,” the railing is “pretty damn rotted,” and the leaves are dry and yellow. These are all pessimistic and dismal observations to make about nature. These observations only reflect and coincide with his thoughts and feelings towards death.
In We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates uses depressing tones, repetition, specific punctuation, and dismal imagery to emphasize the narrator’s thoughts and feelings about death. These literary devices not only help to do so, but they help to draw out the anxiousness Judd Mulvaney experiences. They also help show his maturity level, which is higher than most since he is able to accept his fate with death. Overall this passage teaches a lesson on maturity and helps the reader to become more aware of the fact that no one is
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