The Importance of Rhetorical Devices
We, as students from America, may not be familiar with religions other than our own and especially religions from other countries. There are many factors of religions and cultures we may not be used to; Catholics go to Church on Sundays and that is considered to be their “day of rest.” Some Mormons have to maintain a certain appearance and dress in an appropriate manner. In the Muslim religion it’s perfectly normal and expected to have an arranged marriage. In “A Proposal I Never Thought I’d Consider” Sabaa Saleem gives us an insight regarding marriage in the Muslim religion by sharing her thoughts and why she decided to eventually have an arranged marriage. Saleem was born from two Pakistani parents and lived in a small town in the Mojave Desert (Saleem 323). Despite the fact she’s lived in California throughout most of her life, her culture and religion remain with her and are prominent especially during the time she and her parents started to discuss her plans for marriage. By applying good techniques and specific rhetorical devices throughout her article, Saleem allows her audience of people who aren’t as informed about the Muslim religion to get a better idea of why Muslims would have an arranged marriage, as well as their views and ideas. She uses a variety of tools such as repetition, including personal history and appealing to pathos. However, the tools that made “A Proposal I Never Thought I’d Consider” more effective and enjoyable was Saleem’s use of tone and employing comparing and contrasting lists throughout.
“A Proposal I Never Thought I’d Consider” is written with an informative tone. It’s filled with information regarding why arranged marriages are favored in Islam, why it’s expected and the consequences of refusing to have an arranged marriage. Saleem does a good job employing this tool because all throughout her piece she explains to her audience more about the culture and religion. In Islam an arranged marriage is a tradition that promotes the masculinity of a man because women need to be handed over to a man for “safekeeping” (Saleem 324). Saleem explains to her audience that Muslims are obligated to abstain from intimacy with the opposite sex; she says an arranged marriage would “easily satisfy her religious obligation” (Saleem 325). Employing an informative tone for an article whose audience is to less educated individuals is beneficial because they gain better knowledge of the topic. If the reader remains unknowledgeable about the topic they’re reading or why it’s essential, they become confused and lose interest. Saleem’s use of an informative tone allows the reader to better understand why she has conflictions of having an arranged marriage or not.
Although “A Proposal I Never Thought I’d Consider” conveys an informative tone, she presents the article with two contrasting tones such as serious and humorous. This helps the reader remain interested and keeps the paper light hearted. She is serious about the topic of an arranged marriage, yet remains light-hearted and appeals to pathos by using humor. She says “I should make a decision after five or six meetings…our engagement would likely last a year or two… (Saleem 325)” When Saleem discusses the process of how arranged marriages work, it has a strict timeline and makes you sense a serious tone of the article. Adding a serious tone conveys to the reader that this really is a serious topic; arranged marriages are highly important and must be discussed and planned thoroughly. Saleem wouldn’t be sharing her thoughts and ideas with us if it wasn’t an important matter. Understanding that arranged marriages are a serious matter also ties in with having an informative tone because it helps us recognize that this is vital to their culture and religion; it teaches us more about it. Despite the fact that Saleem has a serious tone, she still makes her article enjoyable to the reader by adding humor. In the beginning she talks about certain qualifications a man must meet in order to be her husband.
Her list of criteria is humorous, especially when she says her stringiest test is whether or not he owns and regularly listens to every Radiohead album (Saleem 324). Authors need hooks to gain the reader’s attention. The reader most likely has no idea who Sabaa Saleem is or what her writing style is. Starting off with a humorous introduction entices the reader at an early stage and makes them want to keep reading because they’ll think she’s funny and entertaining. By continuing to apply humorous statements throughout the rest of her piece, the reader stays engaged and has a more enjoyable time reading. Because Saleem is able to joke about arranged marriages, Saleem’s humor shows us that she is open to the idea of an arranged marriage. Her use of a variety of tones is an effective tool because no one would want to read an article where the author portrays no emotion. Having no emotion or set tones makes writing bland and less enjoyable. Saleem is continuously presenting one idea regarding arranged marriages and comparing and contrasting her feelings with her parent’s. First she mentions how her brother decided not to have an arranged marriage, how that affected her parents and how they eventually accepted it. She then discusses about how her friendships with men were generally frowned upon, but as she got to college they were more lenient than other Muslim parents by allowing her to attend college away from home and enjoy her youth. Because of their leniency, Saleem wanted to just make her parents happy. When her father had a stroke, Saleem felt that her father would be more at peace if she had an arranged marriage, to make it seem as if his responsibility of being a good Muslim parent was fulfilled (Saleem 326).
This list of conflicts she presents builds up to the climax and keeps the reader constantly questioning whether or not she will decide to have an arranged marriage. It was a good idea for Saleem to wait until the ending of her article to present to the audience her final decision because that way they’ll keep reading and learning about the Muslim religion in order to find out what Saleem will end up doing. Providing a climax makes an article more interesting and appealing. This is an effective tool because if there was no climax or build up to the story, there would be no point reading. The readers are reading Saleem’s story to find out how her culture affected her and what her final decision was. The climax is what gets the reader to ask “why.” Why does the reader share this story and how is it related to her decision? Climactic points keep the reader questioning her decisions. Not only did providing a list of conflicts help build to a climax, Saleem’s problems were from her own personal stories. Adding personal stories and writing in a first person point of view allows the readers to feel more connected with Saleem and relate. Personal stories and climactic points are all effective ways of having the reader engaged and more connected. “A Proposal I Never Thought I’d Consider” was well written. Saleem strategically employed various rhetorical devices to write an appealing article. Utilizing rhetorical devices are vital for writing an effective article because it’s what keeps the reader interested and allows them to see a topic from the author’s perspective. After reading Saleem’s article the readers are left with a better understanding of why people agree to arranged marriages and the Muslim religion as well. By employing specific tools such as tone and a climax in her article, she was able to achieve her ultimate goal of informing her readers about the difficult choices concerning arranged marriages. Sabaa Saleem wrote “A Proposal I Never Thought I’d Consider” that advantageously used rhetorical devices to write an informative and interesting article and I enjoyed reading it. Works Cited
Saleem, Sabaa. “A Proposal I Never Thought I’d Consider.” 75 Arguments: An
Anthology. Ed. Alan Ainsworth. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008. 323-328. Print.
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