Rhetorical Analysis Of When Breath Becomes Air By Paul Kalanithi

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Rhetorical Situation: The dying wish of Paul Kalanithi was for his family to make sure his book got published after his death. Kalanithi started writing When Breath Becomes Air after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The context, audience, author, and subject all reflect the urge to share knowledge before death. Written with the need to put word to paper, the context surrounding the memoir deals entirely with the evanescence of time. In the epilogue, his wife, Lucy, wrote about when he started writing the book in bursts of when he felt that he had enough energy to type. On his deathbed “He asked us to ensure that his manuscript be published in some form” (Kalanithi 210). He wanted to share his experience and knowledge of dying with…show more content…
In the first section, he gives numerous examples of how normal his life was before the diagnosis. He recounts his childhood and his beginnings of how he loved to read because of his mother. He tells of when he would stay out late reading in the starlight to come home to his mother worried that he was doing drugs, but “the most intoxicating thing I’d experienced, by far, was the volume of romantic poetry she’d handed me the previous week” (27). He continues with all of his life before cancer, but when he gets the results he says “One chapter of my life seemed to have ended; perhaps the whole book was closing” (120). The rest of the book, the closing of his book as he calls it, focuses on examples of how cancer changed his…show more content…
In the first section, Kalanithi uses analysis to look at the moral aspect of operating on patients. He says that he needs to learn the identity and the wishes of his patients so he can have more respect to them as he operates on their brains and could take one of those away from the patient. He sympathises with other medical professionals by saying “Those burdens are what makes medicine holy and wholly impossible: in taking up another’s cross, one must sometimes get crushed by the weight” (98). The word play he employs adds to the effect of how serious it is to operate on someone and know a doctor might take a person 's identity away if the are a millimeter away from where they were suppose to cut.
In more than one occasion, he uses process to explain his steps of feelings. In one example he says “Cadaver dissection is a medical rite of passage and a trespass on the sacrosanct, engendering a legion of feelings: from revulsion, exhilaration, nausea, frustration, and awe to, as time passes, the mere tedium of academic exercise” (44). By listing all the feelings he had while doing a dissection, he gives the audience a sense of his feelings in the same rollercoaster effect he felt them. In a broader sense, he takes the audience through the process of his death in the second section as

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