Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Every individual has traditions passed down from their ancestors. This is important because it influences how families share their historical background to preserve certain values to teach succeeding generation. N. Scott Momaday has Native American roots inspiring him to write about his indigenous history and Maxine Hong Kingston, a first-generation Chinese American who was inspired by the struggles of her emigrant family. Kingston and Momaday manipulate language by using, metaphors, similes, and a unique style of writing to reflect on oral traditions.
The purpose of Kingston’s passage is to reflect upon her ancestor’s mistake to establish her values as an American immigrant where as Momaday’s purpose is to remember his ancestry through his grandmother to remind future generations of their family’s traditions. In The Way to Rainy Mountain, Momaday used a metaphor comparing his grandmother to the Rainy Mountain. For example, he writes that “[a]lthough my grandmother lived out her long life in the shadow of Rainy Mountain, the immense landscape of the continental interior lay like memory in her blood (Momaday 131).
This metaphor compares the immense landscape of the Rainy Mountain’s continental interior to his grandmother’s memory instilled in her bloodstream. By using metaphors, Momaday reminds young individuals of their traditional life by comparing memories with the present. Momaday was inspired by his Kiowa roots and his ancestors to write The Way to Rainy Mountain. In No Name Woman, Kingston uses the same rhetorical device but for a different purpose. For example, she writes that “[b]ut one human being flaring up into violence could open up a black hole, a maelstrom that pulled in the sky (Kingston 240).
” In this quotation, Kingston utilizes a metaphor to compare the village’s violence towards her aunt’s ways of not conforming to the physical representation of their culture as the opening of a state of confusion which is described as a black hole. By Kingston learning from her aunt’s mistake, she can figure out how to set her own value system. Either stick with the traditions from her Chinese culture or conform to different ways in the American society. Another way Kingston and Momaday manipulated language to reflect on oral traditions was by using similes.
A simile is a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind. When reading both passages, I came across a number of similes comparing their oral traditions with different purposes. For example in The Way to Rainy Mountain, Momaday wrote “[g]reat green-and-yellow grass hoppers are everywhere in the tall grass, popping up like corn to sting the flesh (Momaday 130). ” In this quotation, Momaday explained how a corn field in the summer time is dry and when walking through the field the stalks of the corn plant may sting you.
Therefore, the grass hoppers are acting as the stalks of the corn plant and when grass hoppers jump up they are stinging you, just like the tall stalks of the corn do. This simile compares the harsh conditions of the Rainy Mountains to the memory of his grandmother’s death at the Rainy Mountains during the spring. Momaday remembered his traditions mostly through his grandmother, and he used his memories to remind future generations of their traditions. In No Name Woman, Kingston writes that ‘[l]ike a great saw, teeth strung with lights, files of people walked like zigzag across our land, tearing the rice (Kingston 239).
” Kingston is comparing the files of people who raided their property and home to a great saw. The teeth of the great saw strung with lights represent the bright lanterns that the villagers were holding during the dark nights. Finally, the files of people who walked in a zigzag direction across their land, represents how they ruined and destroyed their crops and livestock during the raid. This quotation represents how Kingston used the occasion of when they disturbed her ancestor’s home to kill her aunt as an example of one of her aunt’s mistake.
She uses this mistake as a reminder of the establishment of her good morals in America. Despite that both passages use the same rhetorical devices, they establish their purposes using a different style of writing and a different tone. Momaday’s tone was convivial while Kingston’s tone was more stern yet entertaining. Momaday’s style of writing was archival because he spoke often of his grandmother while Kingston style of writing was collective because she spoke of her Chinese village to explain how everyone conformed in the same way.
The author’s different styles of writing attract different audiences. Momaday uses a historical approach to storytelling while Kingston uses a personal and social approach. Both authors engage their readers by using metaphors, similes, and an individual style of writing. Yet they use these rhetorical devices to make different points and to draw different conclusions from the past. Ultimately, these rhetorical devices convey the oral traditions in each passage that provide the history of different cultural groups.