Rhetoric in Only Daughter by Sandra Cisneros
There are a number of rhetoric devices that are utilized in realizing this effect. Some of them have been utilized in the short story ‘Only Daughter’. Sandra Cisneros utilizes both rhetorical questions and other rhetorical devices in evoking the feelings of the readers and making the short story to be both interesting and understandable from her perspective as an only daughter in a family of six brothers. Rhetorical questions are used when an author wishes to ask questions that are supposed to evoke meaning as opposed to evoke an answer. For instance, when a person irritates another, the latter may ask ‘Why don’t you leave me alone?’. However, he educated his sons. He always urged them to study and find the form of employment where they would use their minds as opposed to using their hands.
Furthermore, when everyone else did not value the education of girls, he held a different opinion on that matter. When Cisneros approached her father and told him that she would like to further her studies, he was very supportive of her education. She was even surprised that her father was not stereotyped to let her get married and start a family as was the norm with the other families. In order to achieve good results at college, a student has to be dedicated. She has to attend her lectures and pay attention when the professor is teaching. In addition, the student has to work on the assignments issued and always ensure that the assignments are ready by the due date. All this is part of the contribution to her studies and success at college that Cisneros is referring to.
Consequently, when she asks whether she had not spent all those years in college, it was not a question that required an answer but rather a rhetorical question that aims at emphasizing to the reader that she had played her part in working hard at college to achieve academic excellence. Later, when the story is almost ending, the author introduces her work to her father, who is very proud of her and is genuinely interested in reading her work. The fourth rhetoric question was “Why would anyone go to college and then choose to be poor” (Cisneros). In this case, she was referring to the fact that she had gone to college and she had failed to land herself a suitor, worthy of settling down in marriage and starting a family with.
According to her father’s projection and expectations, she was supposed to find a suitor who according to him, would be the provider. She would then not have to work since her husband would provide for her and her children. Her father, though older by that time, was very proud of her. He struggled to read the newspaper that was handed to her by her daughter. He read and re-read parts that he had not comprehended since he was genuinely interested in reading the piece that his daughter had written. He was pointing at different pictures and asking to confirm whether the people in the pictures were really the people he knew. When her father was reading the newspapers, he was laughing at all the interesting places and this was an indicator that he was genuinely interested in the story that her daughter had written.
An example of such is synecdoche. Synecdoche is a rhetoric device or a figure of speech where a component of a whole is used to represent the whole. An example of such in the real world situation is where people refer to cars as wheels. Wheels are components of cars. They are not cars by themselves. In the short story by Cisneros, she utilized this rhetoric device. She used it when she was referring to the fact that she was the only daughter of the family of six brothers. “I am the only daughter of a Mexican family of six sons… I am the only daughter of a Mexican father and a Mexican-American mother… I am the only daughter in a working class family of nine” (Cisneros).
In this way, she utilized the antistrophe rhetoric device to stress on the fact that she was the only daughter in her family. This was because in most cases she felt that her father almost ignored the fact that he had a daughter. It helps the reader to view things from the author’s perspective. An Annotated Bibliography of the sources "Rhetorical Devices". Speaklikeapro. Co. Uk, 2017. Another example is anaphora. This is a rhetoric device that repeats the same word or words at the start of different or consecutive sentences. A tricolon is often used. “To think on death it is a misery,/ To think on life it is a vanity;/ To think on the world verily it is,/ To think that here man hath no perfect bliss" ("Rhetorical Devices").
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