14 October 2018
Rhetorical analysis of “A weekend in Chicago “and “Pleading for Peace in Chicago Amid Fears of a Bloody Summer”
The homicide rate as a result of perpetual gun violence in Chicago, as reported by media outlets, seems to have climbed to unprecedented proportions throughout the past three years. According to the Chicago Tribune’s “39,000 homicides: Retracing 60 years of murder in Chicago” which asserts “The early 2010s saw some of the lowest homicide totals in decades, but violence exploded in 2016. The city exceeded 760 killings in 2016. The number of homicides in 2017 was lower, but still historically high.” (Bentle, Kyle). Also, the same article goes on to state “We used to respond to gang fights in progress … now we respond to shots in that fired … People fought. Now everyone picks up the gun. Just like that.” which implies that some attribute the initial spike to the increased availability of guns and although violence throughout the city has been decreasing lately, in the past 2 years, there are still a significant amount of causalities as a result of violence. Relatedly, the season that typically invites the greatest potential for violence and by extent fatality, seems to be the summer time. As a Chicago native myself, I can attest that with the summer comes heighted violence. At the conclusion of each successful school year following sophomore year in high school, teachers’ urge to “stay safe this summer” became increasingly desperate, multiple “stop the violence” initiatives continuously advertised with catchy slogans begin to permeate the air and with summer time holidays, such as “Memorial Day”, causalities are reported with little to no surprise, as if expected or commonplace. the two articles being examined provide insight into the summertime violence by reporting on violence that occurred during what is arguably a holiday that invites the most potential for city wide violence, “Memorial Day”. “A weekend in Chicago” is published post-Memorial Day weekend, it takes the reader through the weekend day-by-day focusing on individuals involved in violence and the impact it left. Also, it pays particular attention to the time that the incident occurred. Pleading for peace …”is published pre-Memorial Day weekend religious leaders, political leaders, speculate on the then impending holiday weekend, based on past holiday weekend turnout of violence with what seem to be piles for change, but caution for what is expected, violence. In their own way these two articles effectively use rhetorical appeals Kairos, pathos, and ethos not only to give two very similar but different accounts on violence in the city, but the insight they bring reinforces what is already known, Chicago is dangerous especially in the summertime.
Both articles take advantage of the kraurotic situation, utilizing the context surrounding violence in Chicago, the hyper-violent state due to gun violence historically, to present their respective reports. Each also effectively uses their distinct timing of publication to instigate a strong impact on the audience. These work together to reinforce to their respective audiences that the mediated image of Chicago is true. established earlier Chicago reportedly has high rates for homicides that are attributed to excessive gun violence. This is the context of society within Chicago when the articles are published, violence is an exigent issue. These two articles both publish reports about arguably one of the most violence prone days of the summer (Memorial Day) a season already associated with heighted violence. Meaning they speak on the exigent issue of violence in the context of Chicago, while said violence is occurring arguably at its worst. This is intentional, in this case the authors insert their articles purposely at the time they did to utilizing the exigency of the issue. So they are present at the time that would elicit the greatest response. Kairos at its core, is after all about waiting for the appropriate time to speak on an issue. Additionally, each article is published at a different time relative to the event they cover which induce different effects. “Pleading for peace …” was published pre-Memorial Day weekend while “A weekend in Chicago” was published post-Memorial Day, weekend. On the one hand we have “Pleading for peace …” which plays with the expectations surrounding the holiday, the reader has a preconceived notion, that the holiday will be violent. In other words, it uses the moment to elicit feelings of while the second article does the same with its post-event release.
Coupled with Kairos, Present between both articles also is a strong appeal to emotion. The two articles invoke strong pathos by creating a sense of empathy or understanding between reader and the individuals affected by gun violence and their loved ones. This sense of empathy or understanding, on the surface helps readers to connect with victims by better understand how individual lives are affected but this also inadvertently reinforces preconceived notions about Chicago. takes an in-depth look on victims, we learn name, age, what kind of person they were, what their life was like before the violence, and the audience sees things from their perspective and understands them and the circumstances that have led to them becoming victims of crime. The reader empathies with the victims of violence because they can see things from the victims’ perspective. This makes a strong emotional appeal because often when confronted with stats about violence, it’s easy to interpret them as just numbers that support or discredit an argument. We don’t have the chance to personally connect, which as a result can lead to us forgetting that the stats represent real people. However, this article masterfully utilizes the personal story to reach our emotions by connecting us with the individual and how violence impacts them.
Lastly Ethos or credibility is built throughout both article by referencing several individuals each established in some dimension trustworthy to discuss violence in Chicago. This works to reinforce the kraurotic elements. Each article draws direct quotations from Chicago political figures, loved ones of victims, community activities. These subsets have one thing in common, they are all to some degree affected by the violence in Chicago. In other words, they have firsthand experienced dealing with violence in some way. Which is why they can be considered creditable. Active experience in this case is key to establishing credibility. Not only this, but it’s worth mentioning that their experience is also relevant to the topic discussed. This builds the kraurotic element within the article because the articles use the time violence reaches its peak in Chicago to place themselves, so they can elicit an effect. Bringing in the sources within the articles enhance the desired effect because the people referenced have experience with the, then, current state of affairs. Put simply, because the article draws on people with firsthand experience about the exigent issue who live within the time of said issue is happening, the reader is able brought to a place of understanding that violence can afflict anyone, even them. This effectively enhances the initial desired effect.
Bentle, Kyle, et al. “39,000 homicides: Retracing 60 years of murder in Chicago.” chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune, 9 Jan. 2017. Web Accessed . 14 Oct. 2018.
Smith, Monica Davey. “A Weekend in Chicago.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 June 2016, web accessed Oct 2018, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/04/us/chicago-shootings.html?rref=collection/seriescollection/chicago-violence&action=click&contentCollection=us®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection.
Smith, Monica Davey and Mitch. “Pleading for Peace in Chicago Amid Fears of a Bloody Summer.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Dec. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/us/chicago-gun-