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Rhetorical Analysis of the Articles

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The three articles by Eric Schlosser What We Eat, Bad Meat, and Tyson’s Moral Anchor, though covering different themes, have much in common. The similarity refers not only to the main idea which is conveyed in these three works, but also to the distinguished style the author uses to communicate his point to the readers.

The author draws attention to the issue, that giant food corporations enjoy too much power, which leads to lack of responsibility of these corporations to their employees and their customers as well. In its turn, the large amount of power and little liability result in violation of human rights, most particularly, the right to safety. This right, granted to every citizen of the United States of America, should be supported and protected by the country’s government. However, it fails to perform its obligations properly and efficiently, at least concerning the food industry. All of these questions are very important, and the author’s aim is to draw attention to these questions, make the readers think about them and not to stay indifferent to the existing problems.

In the article Bad Meat, Schlosser analyzes the Con Agra’s recall of bad meat contaminated with dangerous pathogen. The author attracts attention to the hazards this meat presents for the customers, and to the way company’s executives and governmental officials react to the situation. The governmental institutions fail to control the quality of meat thoroughly. The meatpacking company refuses to spend extra money on preventing the hazardous outbreaks. The author suggests his own way out – “creation of an independent food safety agency with tough enforcement powers”, because food safety is of paramount importance as “Democrat or Republican, you still have to eat” (Schlosser, Bad Meat).

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 The article Tyson’s Moral Anchor deals with another burning issue –poor working conditions and the wage cuts. The author describes the way the union leaders fight against giant corporations in order to improve working conditions and increase the wages. It is not merely the matter of workers’ well-being, but a question of food safety, too. The author emphasizes that while meatpacking is one of the lowest-paid jobs, its annual turnover is one of the highest (Schlosser, Tyson’s).

In the article What We Eat Schlosser describes the food industry in general. He covers reasons of its appearance and development, historical factors contributing to its growth, and profound impacts of the food industry on every sphere of contemporary life. At the end of the article, the author puts crucial questions every American should be concerned with – where the food comes from, how it is made, if it is safe and what impacts the industry has on society in general (Anderson and Runciman, 491-497).

Though Schlosser covers different issues in these three articles, the style of his writing is distinguishable and recognizable due to the similar rhetoric means he uses. In regard to logos, the Schlosser’s style is clear and comprehensible, logical, easy to read and understand. The author presents and arranges information and his opinions in a logical way, so the readers can follow his thoughts and reflections easily. Schlosser does not speculate or surmise about different issues. He gives valid arguments and supports them with statistics and other credible sources.

The writer’s ethos is revealed through establishing his credibility and trustworthiness. This effect is achieved due to different techniques. Emphasizing his reliability and implying that he is an expert regarding the raised issues, Schlosser communicates bare facts supported with statistic data. Besides, he cites the sociological research works, other scientific sources, uses direct quotations from interviews. Though Schlosser presents himself as an expert, his articles are not saturated with many scientific terms and he uses colloquial language instead of academic. The author appeals to a vast audience, which includes ordinary people with different levels of education in diverse fields, various occupations, interests and standards of life. Thus, in order to persuade the readers and convey his point to them, Schlosser deliberately chooses the informal language. The author implies that he is one of the members of a society to whom he addresses. He does not adopt an authoritative or supercilious tone. Quite the contrary, the writer positions himself as an average American concerned with the current state of affairs in the food industry.

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Sometimes, like in the article Tyson’s Moral Anchor, Schlosser prefers pronouncedly sarcastic tone, directing his obvious indignation against the Tyson’s corporation. The company calls their workers “team members”, which sounds absurd to a reader, who is already aware of the poor working conditions, absence of a union, and six-day working week. Another example of sarcasm is found in the same article. The last paragraph of the article states that while the workers suffer from the wage cuts, chairman of the company, John Tyson, enjoys the tripled increase of his annual compensation. Because of this his words that one “must have a moral anchor” and declaration that he is “a servant of people working for him” sound at the very least false and spurious. The writer does not reveal his attitude. The last sentence states, “He said it with a straight face”, letting the readers make their own conclusions about Tyson’s moral anchor (Schlosser, Tyson’s).

The pathetic effect is achieved with the help of various means. First of all, it refers to the word ‘choice’ used to describe different facts, events or people. In every article, the author uses strong, emotiionally colored words and word expressions. The use of intensifying adjectives, as in examples like “tough business”, “a tremendous advantage”, “prominent scandals”, “severe illness” and many others, evolves definite emotive response, either positive or negative. Besides, the author does not express his attitude openly but reveals it through the word choice. For example, in the first sentence of the article Tyson’s Moral Anchor, Schlosser describes a union leader as being “the finest”. This leader is “assaulted” by the “meanest” and the “toughest” corporation (Schlosser, Tyson’s). The chosen words suggest negative implication, thus revealing the author’s attitude and what side he supports in this confrontation.

Secondly, Schlosser appeals to the readers’ imagination and familiar life experience. The author provides many facts and statistic data. In order to make it sound more interesting and captivating, the bare facts are alternated with vivid and colorful descriptions. In the article What We Eat the author indicates the amount of money spent by Americans on fast food in 2001. The number of 110 billion dollars is hard to imagine, so the writer explains that this sum is bigger than the one spent on “higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars”, and it is bigger than the money spent on “movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and recorded music – combined” (Anderson and Runciman, 491). Schlosser uses comparisons very frequently. However, aims of their use are different. In some cases they are used to provide better understanding of a definite fact. For instance, experience of buying fast food has become as routine as “brushing your teeth” (Anderson and Runciman, 491). In other cases, the same means creates an appalling effect evolving strong negative feelings of fear or disgust. The brightest example of applying this technique is found in the article Bad Meat. The author compares the contemporary food safety to the airport security in the years before the September, 11’s terrorist attacks in 2001. This terrifying event became the nation-wide grief and caused much pain to almost every American. Comparing these seemingly unrelated situations, the author claims that food safety is as important as airport security, and the current situation can lead to no less dangerous and drastic effects (Schlosser, Bad Meat).

Eric Schlosser in his articles raises very significant questions which need to be solved, because they are vitally important for the whole society. His pieces of writing are thought-provoking, evolving the emotive response, and leaving no reader indifferent to the described problems. To achieve this purpose, the writer successfully uses the whole arsenal of rhetoric means and devices, which allows the author to convey his opinions and thoughts to a vast audience.

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