Rhetorical Analysis #1: Night

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Rhetorical Analysis #1: Night


In class we’ve been examining how writers use certain techniques to make their writing more persuasive.   For instance, writers might emphasize their own authority or credibility (ethos); they might appeal to an audience’s values, emotions, or experiences (pathos); or they might base their argument on careful reasoning (logos).   These techniques are part of what is known as rhetoric—the effective use of language.   Analyzing the rhetorical choices writers make allows us to evaluate their arguments more effectively and respond appropriately.   This assignment asks you to conduct such a rhetorical analysis of a text.


Read the text, making notes about what the author is doing to make his or her argument more persuasive.   Then compose an essay of three full pages in which you analyze the rhetorical techniques the author uses in the text.


Here are some points to keep in mind as you write your essay:


  • Ethos:  What perspective and biases does the author bring to this text?  What authority does he or she have to produce this text?  What does the author do within the text to establish credibility with the audience?

  • Pathos:   Whom is the author of this text writing to?  What is the audience's attitude towards the subject matter?  How does this attitude affect the way the author presents his or her message?  What does the author do to appeal to the audience's emotions, values, or experiences?  

  • What reasons and evidence does he or she provide to prove the claim(s)? Logos:   What basic claim(s) is the author making?    How appropriate and convincing is the author’s reasoning and evidence?

  • Make sure your essay has a clear, focused thesis.   You can’t simply hand in a list of rhetorical appeals you found in the text; instead, you should look at the notes you’ve made and determine whether there is an overall pattern of rhetorical appeals that makes the text effective or ineffective.

  • You should, of course, support your analysis with plentiful examples from the text, but remember that your essay should be an analysis, not a summary.  Do not waste time telling your reader what the text says; focus on how the text says it.  

  • Your analysis should be just that—yours—in that you’re presenting and defending your own understanding of what the author is doing in the text.   There’s no need, however, to mention yourself at any point in the essay.   Phrases like “I think” or “in my opinion” tend to weaken this sort of essay, so avoid them.

  • Likewise, your own opinion of the subject matter of the text is irrelevant.   This assignment does not ask you to agree or disagree with the author, only to analyze how he or she is making a point.


Night is a memoir, written by a real holocaust survivor. Some criticize the way it is written, while others applaud it. Explore the text critically. What is most effective? What might anger or throw others off? Do you think his method of writing was intentional?

Every source you use in completing this assignment must be completely and correctly documented following MLA guidelines.  Be absolutely sure to give proper credit to the source(s) of all words and ideas that are not your original thoughts.  Your Works Cited page does not count towards the page limit for this assignment.
Your analysis should be 1.5-2 pages in length. MLA format. Be precise and to the point in this analysis.


Your ANALYSIS is due on Monday, January 14th.   No essays will be accepted late, regardless of whether you have had your essay in class prior to this date.  


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