Rhetorical Analysis Time!

What is the argument here?!? (Cisneros argues that a 'Merican is __________)

  • Remember that, as an analyst of the rhetoric, your job is not to decide what is emotionally evocative, ethically credible, or demonstrably logical; your job is to decide if the audience will find it to be.
  • All of the elements on the following checklist need to be addressed in order to get at least a "D" on this assignment. In other words, you can write a beautiful, thoughtful, earth-shattering analysis, but if if it doesn't at least attempt to cover these things, you won't pass.

Checklist for rhetoric:

  • Ethos-interesting...; so who's credible in this story?
  • Pathos; can you sympathize or empathize with these characters?
  • Logos; what makes this story believeable?
  • Author
  • Audience
  • Context
  • Exigence

Sources & Citations

  • First of all, let's discuss why outside sources would help you elaborate on some of the rhetorical terms
  • Next, we'll get started on a Works Cited page by creating a citation for the story itself.

Style & Tone

  • The next thing you'll need to address is how this text uses language effectively (or not!)...
  • Using the points made in the book, Freewrite!
  • Let's use what the EEA section on style as a prompt for freewriting about your conclusions for this analysis.
    • Does Cisneros' style help or hinder her argument?
    • What tone does she use? Is it angry? Is it indifferent? What adjective would you use to describe it?
    • Ultimately, is she convincing?


  • Last but not least, I want you to work in your writing groups to search for outside materials that demonstrate specific rhetorical elements!
    • Biographical information is probably readily available! (What gives her authority? What personal testimony reinforces her claims?)
    • Database searches might give you some contextual references (political, social, economic, cultural references?)
    • Exegesis! (Why does anyone need to be convinced of this?!?)
  • When we're near the end of class, I'll ask you to share any super-interesting information you might have found; keep in mind that you should be doing this kind of thing over the weekend too, though!


  • Create a first (or second if you already got started!) draft of your rhetorical analysis that accomplishes the following:
    • Identifies what Cisneros' argument might be
    • Presents claims about both the author's intent and the exegesis for Mericans
    • Uses at least two outside sources (biographies, news articles, etc.) to help demonstrate those claims
    • Addresses all 3 rhetorical elements (Ethos, Pathos, and Logos)
  • Remember that a draft does not need to be structured like a finalized essay! You don't need an intro or conclusion unless they help you answer the other main points; you don't need to have all the answers yet, just ideas; you don't need to polish your structure or grammar; you don't even need to write full paragraphs!
  • This writing does not need to be printed, unless you want me to have a copy. You can bring it to class electronically :)