Rhetorical Analysis of “Ground Zero” by Suzanne Berne Suzanne Berne, the author and first person speaker in “Ground Zero,” uses the essay to recount her visit to the site of the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001. The burning information, or exigence, that she must get out is that Ground Zero is vastly different in person than it is in the thoughts of those who have never experienced it. She believes that the empty space is really not empty at all. The primary audience that Berne is trying to appeal to is tourists who are just seeing Ground Zero for the first time.
Her purpose for appealing to this audience is to provide a new way of looking at the empty space that is Ground Zero. The secondary audience is those who have never personally experienced the sight of Ground Zero. Berne aims to explain that seeing Ground Zero in person will have a moving effect on them.
Only $13.90 / page
The final audience is the construction workers at the site. She uses her essay to tell them that their work inspires a sense of hope in those who visit the site. Berne’s ethical appeal includes her credentials. She is a credible because she wrote “Ground Zero” from personal experience.
She saw the empty space first hand as a tourist in Manhattan. She was greatly moved by what she saw on the day she visited. Her logical appeal is to prove that seeing the former site of the World Trade Center in person leads one to believe that it is not just an empty space. The space is filling back up, and hope exists in the vicinity. Berne proves this thesis in paragraph twelve when she writes, “But it is unbelievable, to stare at so much devastation, and know it for devastation, and yet recognize that it does not look like the devastation one has imagined.
” She continues to prove her thesis in paragraph twenty with the sentence, “Soon I was outside once more, joining the tide of people washing around the site. ” This shows that the space is truly not empty. Lastly she proves the thesis further in paragraph twenty by writing, “And by the act of our visiting–whether we are motivated by curiosity or horror or reverence or grief, or by something confusing that combines them all–that space fills up again. ” For emotional appeal, the Berne’s tone throughout the essay is very solemn with an air of amazement.
“Ground Zero” inspires a mood of enlightenment and hope in the reader. Often times, people visit a place with only an idea of what they will experience. Upon arriving, they realize that their assumption was wrong and what lies before them is entirely different from their expectations. “Ground Zero” is a narrative essay that is organized into both short and long paragraphs. The diction that Suzanne Berne uses is mature and descriptive, but it could be read by eighth grade readers and up. The syntax found in the essay is composed of short sentences, long sentences, some dialogue, and some lists.
The imagery presented by Berne is very vivid in the reader’s mind. The most obvious examples are found in paragraph nine with her description of the cemetery. Imagery can also be found in paragraph eighteen throughout Berne’s description of the honor guard removing the dead from Ground Zero. Figurative language, specifically a simile, can be found in the first sentence of paragraph six; it is used to describe the amount of light she sees. The first sentence of paragraph seven contains a metaphor comparing Ground Zero to a bowl of light.