Rhetorical Analysis On Joan Didion

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Joan Didion is an author who was part of the New Journalism movement during the 1960s and ‘70s which was a change from the traditional styles (Rustin 1). As a member of the New Journalism movement, Didion used stories and real-life events to explore sensational events that occurred in the sixties and seventies. Using imagery to centralize her ideas, Didion boldly informs the reader on the subject of morality and gets him/her engaged with the text. Didion’s use of gruesome imagery resonates with the idea of survival-based morality because in the most physically painful and emotional situations, people are defined by the actions they take. Joan Didion positions her view by providing symbolic imagery including the blazing desert, the nurse who travels one-hundred and eighty miles of mountain road for an injured girl, the sheriff’s deputies who search for a kid, and the painting by Hieronymous Bosch illustrating the diverse concept of morality, all which construct the exaggeratingly annoyed tone of the essay and deliver an idea that survival is central to morality.
Joan begins by informing an audience of scholars and philosophers that she is in a very uncomfortable stage, in
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“The black 90 degree water going down and down and down…about water that got hotter instead of cooler as he went down, about flickering through the water, about magma, about underground nuclear testing” (Didion 2). This imagery makes the reader visualize an intense situation and suggests that although the boy is dead, the sheriffs found it moral to look for the boy. This example is valuable because it shows how the deputies reacted to help the mother in any way possible; even though they knew the kid was missing and likely dead. This continues the momentum of the essay because several examples of horrifying, life and death situations develop the purpose of the essay: to give reasons why morality is about
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