The target audience for this rhetorical analysis is my classmates. The audience can not be grouped by age, as there are those who just finished high school as well as people in their forties. The gender of the audience is composed of both men and women of all ages according to the information I found in our introduction to the class.
To prepare this rhetoric analysis we will have to read the story and do some research about the author. This information will be presented in our analysis and it will be interesting to see what others have found and how they presented in their analysis.
What the audience has in common is that we are all studying the same class, and therefore, we have all read, “I’m O.K., but You’re Not” by Robert Zoellner. Although the audience is diverse in age, gender, and background, we can all have an opinion of the reading material.
Some of my classmates will be able to agree with my analysis/opinions and others will disagree. But that is the beauty of having an audience so different. Not only I will be able to express freely what I think, but I can also hear the point of view and opinions of my classmates.
Two Sets of Rules
Robert Zoellner is an American writer born in 1926 in Denver, Colorado. Among Zoellner’s interests we found that he likes hiking, backpacking, skiing, ecology, and preservation of environment. He was also a member of the Modern Language Association in America. He is the author of “I’m O.K., but You’re Not” where he talks about “The Floating Opera” by John Barth. In this novel Barth tells us how ordinary things that happen to people on a daily basis. Which was Zoellner’s inspiration to write “I’m O.K., and You’re Not.” This is short and personal story about Zoellner’s experience with an elderly snobbish couple in the restaurant. This story begins with the author is trying to have a happy and normal breakfast in a restaurant. He is a heavy-smoker so he requests the hostess to be seated in the smoker’s section of the restaurant, in order to be polite with other customers. The hostess gave him a table “on the dividing line between the smoking and nonsmoking sections” (28). The author uses a very descriptive way to refer to an elderly couple, well dressed and kind of snobbish, who sat down five feet away from the author’s table, in the non-smoking area. The author was smoking and the gentleman with his magisterial white hair, as Zoellner described the old men, asked him to please stop smoking. The problem here was the way and the tone of how this old man asked Zoellner to stop smoking, it was “self-righteous and peremptory” (28). The old man requested him to stop smoking in a very imperative way that is why Zoellner’s response was that he was not going to stop smoking because he was in the non-smoking area of the restaurant. The author is aware that cigarette smoke is annoying for people who do not smoke, and even more if they are in a restaurant. In other circumstances he would have stop smoking out of simple courtesy.
Robert Zoellner has a very exquisite selection of words that makes easy to the reader to see a perfect picture of what is happening in the story. The author uses just a few words to describe in details a scene like: “having breakfast in a lawn-bordered restaurant on College avenue” (Zoellner 28) or “at a little two-person table on the dividing line between the smoking and non-smoking section”(28). The author gives a specific geographic idea of where he is at.
So far, the author has described how he started his day at the restaurant in time for breakfast. Briefly described where he was sitting, and also described the old couple sitting next to him.. After Zoellner’s negative response, the old couple “ate their eggs-over easy in hurried and sullen silence”…”they got up, paid their bill, and stalked out in an ambiance of affronted righteousness and affluent propriety” (29). At the time that the old couple came out of the restaurant, they went to their automobile, a white Mercedes Benz, where two “splendid matched pair of pedigreed poodles” (29) were waiting for them. When they opened the door of the car, the dogs went directly to the restaurant’s lawn to make their needs. After this
scene, “the four of them marshalled their collective dignity and drove off in a dense cloud of blue smoke- that lovely white Mercedes was urgently in need of a valve-and-ring job” (29). The author, once again, described in detail what is happening at the moment. The authors’ intention is to take the reader to the scene of the incident to be part of the story and be able to make an opinion about what have just happened. So far, everything the author has narrated, makes the reader feel sympathy for him. The author achieves this reaction in the readers by using a sarcastic tone to avoid showing frustration or anger.
The old man requested the author, in a very authoritarian way, to put out his cigarette, which was reason enough for Zoellner to deny his request. And after the old couple finished their breakfast in a rush, they went to their car, took the dogs out and allowed them to do their business right in lawn of the restaurant. So, for the old couple it is terrible to smoke in the restaurant’s smoking section, but it is not terrible at all not to clean after your dogs poop. Which is a clear example of double standards.
Robert Zoellner, also goes further and lets his imagination fly. Wondering if the old man polluting the atmosphere by setting his fireplace with moss rock and also fertilizing his impeccable garden, but as the author stated this “is pure and unkindly speculation” (29). And not only that, Zoellner also described the way their old white Mercedes Benz polluted the air. The author also stated “as a chronic smokestack. I normally comply, out of simple courtesy, with such a request” (29), but in this case the old man manners made his request be rejected.
The way the author give a lot of simple details, helps the reader to make a visual idea, giving the reader the sensation of watching a movie instead of reading a book. The author’s intention was not to judge the old couple he just gave us the facts of what happened that day at the restaurant. He uses a sarcastic tone and humor to gain the readers understanding and empathy. And in this ordinary day, with this not out of the ordinary story, he makes the reader think about double standards that everybody face in a daily basis.
“Robert Zoellner.” Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2002. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 12 Feb. 2012.
Robert Zoellner. “I’m O.K., You’re Not.” The Prentice Hall Guide for College Writers. Ed. Stephen Reid. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson, 2011: 28-29. Print.