Story is a natural vehicle for enthymeme—narrated events can lead the listener to an unstated conclusion or moral, inviting the audience to write “the rest of the story.”
Maxims, wise sayings, are often the concluding statements to fables and stories.
Examples give the rhetor the opportunity to recount past facts, use parallel illustrations (speculation), and fable to demonstrate a particular instance of a general concern (Aristotle again).
Examples are the most common support my students use for argument, and by learning to write a detailed, well-crafted story (true, speculative or made-up), they have the confidence to use examples in their essays.
From FDR’s “War Message,” Dec. 8, 1941—story of “true facts”
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
Narration and Pathos
Appeal to emotion, pathos, can be more influential than logos (Cicero).
Pathos can help the speaker establish identification with the audience (Burke).
Connecting with values common to the audience can be achieved through pathos.
Narration is a useful tool in shaping pathos.
Introductory stories say to the audience, “I’m like you.”
Stories can be used to give the audience a picture of a particular need (a hungry child that needs to be fed), tapping into common values and inviting response.
Recent commercials by Bausch and Lomb tell how they discovered the problem with their contact solution, responded quickly to the problem, pulled the product, and developed a new and safer contact solution for the public. Through story, this company is trying to re-establish their credibility with their customers.
As human beings, we are natural story-tellers and story-consumers. Learning to test and develop persuasive abilities through narration teaches students important lessons about logos, pathos and ethos in their writing.