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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Essay on an Essay: Don’t Call Me That Word

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The author’s purpose in this essay is to inform us of what it is like being a black person living in Canada, and also how the N- word is used regularly in common speech. The author achieves his purpose by using rhetorical devices such as giving examples from his personal experiences.


The author uses specific rhetorical devices in this essay including anecdotes, rhetorical questions, using many examples and situations he has come across in his life. The first device Hill uses is an anecdote about how his father laid down three rules that would help him through his life. The 1st was to study, the nd, was that if he didn’t achieve complete success at school or work than it was considered a failure, and the rd “was if anybody called you “nigger” I was to beat the hell out of him.” This is a very strong opening. It struck me as soon as I read it and I felt there was a little bit of hate in the author.


The first of many examples from the essay is one referring to the history of black people and what they have overcome. Hill says that over the 400 hundred years of black history his race have beaten numerous challenges, such as “the chains of slave vessels” and even “our own murderous infighting.” The purpose of this is to show that they have overcome all these things but they still cannot strip themselves from word. Hill’s examples are strong and make good points. His second shows the way various people use the N-word. Hill says that they’ve “hit the pinnacle of absurdity when white teenagers sling their arms around black friends and say Whassup my nigger?” He said that they do this because white people want a piece of the word. Hill gives us a different example of how people use the word, not only referring to black people. He stated that the Irish have been referred to as “the niggers of Europe.” He tells us this to show us that the word is known on a universal basis and that everyone everywhere knows it. Lawrence Hill then goes on to give examples on how the word is used in hip hop lyrics. This is an important area because the younger generations can relate to the songs they’ve heard with the N-word in it. He states that the Canadian hip hop artist Choclair changed the word “nigger” in his songs to “nigga.” Even though he changed it to “nigga” it still sounds a lot like the other and because of that the youth will still use the word. The last of Hills examples is that some people think the n-Word is making a comeback and that it is kosher to use it in normal conversation. Hill gives two good reasons why this statement fails. The first being that racists and racism still exists, and the second being that making this word appropriate to say would reflect a new trend.


Hill used three different anecdotes as a part of his rhetorical devices. Hill tells us about when he visited a drop-in centre where he met a white youth complaining that kids were calling him a “wigger” this is a insulting name for white people trying to be black. Hill didn’t understand this because he didn’t know why they would try to be black. His last anecdote occurs in the last paragraph of the essay. It is about a black female friend of his who wanted to read Harvard professor, Randall Kennedy’s book “Nigger The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word. She told him that she couldn’t bring herself to read the book on the subway because she didn’t want to be seen with the N-Word so close to her face. This was a good choice for the end of his essay, it hits you. Hill started out his essay with an anecdote about his father and ends with an anecdote about his friend. Hill is relating his essay to a very personal part of him. He uses the anecdotes to try and relate his personal situations and feelings to that of the reader. It is true that you will understand a writer more if you can relate to them someway, and telling a story was Hills way.


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Hill asks one specific rhetorical question in his essay. He began by saying that if a young black man was to use this word around his mother he would be slapped across the face at once. Hill goes on to say that black people use the N-word because it hurts so much and that using it is saying that “we don’t run from it, we roll it into our art.” His question comes in asking does that take the sting out of the word? As you read the pace of the reader picks up as Hill gives us a quick answer to the question “NO.” Then he asks another question and three quick proofs are given to answer that question.


Hill uses so many different rhetorical devices to help prove his purpose of informing because he can’t have just one example of a situation. He needs to be able to show you his point on all levels. He gives strong examples and anecdotes, relating them to you and your feelings. Hill makes his purpose stand out that you have to know something about the topic before you can complete your opinion.


The tone of the essay tends to change as you read along. Hill starts it off with a really strong story about a lesson he had to learn. This sets the tome as sort of angry or aggressive. Hill then changes to an informative tone. This is when he gives facts and states his thesis. The tone jumps back and forth from these two completely different types. Hill can be sarcastic too when he is angry. He makes it seem like irony when the young white boy is called a wigger when he’s trying to act black, but its okay for him to call his black friends nigger. The tones appropriateness to the essay’s purpose is good. The tone is informative when it has to be and it is aggressive when Hill is making a point.





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