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Stylistic Analysis Of Annie Dillard’s Essay

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Babies Are Not Always a Good Thing

Throughout human history, people have always looked forward to and celebrated the births of people, so much so that they have dedicated an entire branch of medicine that deals with it. While usually a nurse in the hospital is dealing with death and disease everyday, OB-gyn and maternity nurses get to help bring in new life everyday, multiple times a day. Though most people would love to work as a maternity nurse, and would be happy and excited to work with those miracles, it does start to become just a job sooner or later, where the joy just wears off, as is the case in Annie Dillard’s essay where she describes the routines that the nurses go through everyday. In the piece, she uses rhetorical devices to demonstrate a critical and cold attitude toward the treatment of babies by the nurses.

When Dillard describes the first scene in her essay, she uses a lot of imagery. In the first through third paragraphs, she describes the baby-washing station like one would expect a factory line to look and sound like. She says that they wash the newborns like dishes, with the nurses changing throughout eight hour shifts. This is one of the times when the author uses imagery in order to set the tone for the essay. By Dillard painting the image of a factory line as a baby-washing station, the reader can start to see that the tone for this essay is not a positive one; the babies are treated like objects. With this example of imagery, it is evident that the tone is cold and critical. Another example of imagery that supports the tone can be found on the second page. Lines 35-37 say that the nurse bundles him up and just sends him down the line, like one would in an assembly line. With these example of imagery, it is clear to the reader that the tone is cold and critical because normally, in the presence of a baby, a person would be happy and excited, here, the nurses are bored and do not even care about them anymore, they refer to them as objects, not even worthy of names.

Aside from imagery, Dillard also uses analogies to demonstrate her tone. One of the first examples of analogies can be found on the first page of the essay. On the first page, the nurse describes the baby’s head using an analogy, she compares his head with a cone-head/ dunce cap. Not only is this an analogy, but this is also satire because this is mean and judgemental, the nurse is drawing a mean comparison for the purpose of making fun of him. This mean and judgemental analogy really demonstrates that at this point, the nurses really do not care about the babies, and it shows that the tone in this essay is cold and critical. Another example of the use of analogies to set the tone can be found on the first page also. In the sixth paragraph, the narrator compares a clot to the baby. She compares the creation myth from the Quran, where Allah created life with a blood clot, with a newborn! An object that can disappear/ dissolve with TPA (a medicine/ solution that can dissolve blood clots non-invasively) is being compared to a baby, which can only disappear with the use of another human, which is murder. This analogy shows that at this point, the nurses really consider the babies as objects, which goes to show that the tone in this essay is cold and critical.

In summation, Annie Dillard’s tone and attitude in her essay is cold and critical. In order to set the tone, she uses two major rhetorical devices, and another mixed in among the two. She uses imagery and analogies, with some satire mixed in. She uses these devices in order to tell the readers that babies are not for everyone, and that people do get tired of them.

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Salem Possessed: a Critical Review

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum have compiled evidence to support their thesis that the Salem Witch Trials are hardly a sporadic event, but instead was an intensified verion of the struggle of the early settlers to acclimate themselves to the new way of life in the Americas. The authors have presented multiple sources of information to show that the social issues and personal relationships in this Massachusetts region had a large impact on the community and the events that brought about the Salem Witch trials.

The authors state that the Salem Witch Trails are often viewed as an isolated event, without also looking at the tension between opposing groups that occupied the area at the time. The first important point made by the authors was the struggle between Salem Town and Salem Village. At this time in history Salem Town was one of the major ports in Massachusetts and had a growing population of immigrants because of this. The inhabitants of this region expanded their hold on the lands North West of Salem town. These lands became known as Salem Village. In society at this time property ownership was passed down through the family by the way of the sons.

The first men who owned land in Salem Village eventually passed the land down to their sons, which meant the Village grew in occupants quickly as these sons would marry and start families of their own. The members of Salem Village had been paying taxes, working town guard shifts and involving themselves in town matters that generally had no effect on their lives in Salem Village. Once the population in the Village has risen to enough occupants they felt it was only right to establish town meeting place and a Church to become their own established community. Salem Town did not agree; the town still relied on the occupants of Salem Village to supply their harvests, pay taxes and contribute to the town’s ever-growing needs. The struggle of the villagers was fueled by passion, but also disparity. The sons of the original land owners were having children of their own, and there was not enough land to be split between the new generation. This threatened the lively hood of the families because these lands were used to farm as their main source of income. With towns surrounding Salem the prospect of outward expansion was bleak and the diminishing availability of land was a source of intense stress for the farmers.

The commercial business men of Salem Town and the farmers of Salem Village were often found on opposing sides of political, social and economic issues in the area. The second point made was the struggle the community experienced in respect to the Minister for the Church of Salem Village. The Village members were working hard to establish a church of their own that was within reasonable distance to their homes, this would further distance the Village from Salem Town. The villagers had formally requested a minister by the name of Samuel Parris to take the office of Minister but failed to hear a response. The villagers then appointed and sent two more committees to negotiate the position.

Finally, Parris responded with a counter-offer, that the committee eagerly accepted and assured Parris the town and its inhabitants would honor. As word of the new demands spread through the community opposition and resentment began to grow. Eventually a session was held to negotiate the terms of the new Ministers compensation, which included more townspeople than the committees that initially negotiated with him. The agreements reached in this session were not recorded in The Village Book of Record until a month later, and without Parris present. It later came to light that the terms Parris thought had been defined were left vague or completely ignored in this record of the event. Eventually these terms began going unfulfilled, at first by individuals but eventually by “a matter of Village policy”. These desperate times drove Parris to desperate measures, which caused him to lose the respect of many community members. The Church records from this time were helpful in deciphering which individuals were associated with the Church and which community members were no associated with it.

These Church records were also helpful in shedding a light on the religious contribution to the Salem Witch Trials. Upon Parris’ arrival he offered a hopeful future for the village being united by a church and putting away their differences. Parris quickly realized that this hopeful future was not on the horizon for Salem Village. Once this realization set in Parris began preaching of subversion and deceit. He went on to connect these things with evil, even citing bible stories that connected wrongdoings to the devil and witches. Tensions in the community continued to rise with the help of its minister. Once there were accusations of witchcraft in the village Parris used the prospect of witchery as evidence of the growing power of Satan to bring the people of the community back together under the church. The last point made by the Authors is that there was a family feud in the community that had been going on for generations. The families of John Putnam and John Porter were both very prosperous families. Both men had settled early in the area that would eventually become Salem Village and each had 5 sons to whom their lands would be split between upon their deaths. Each of the Porter and Putnam sons, along with the men who married the daughters of each family, were generally well-off and prosperous in their ventures.

The Porter family held lands on the Salem Town side of Salem Village, which meant they had easy access to the town and John Porter utilized his geographical location to expand his economic activities for beyond that of farming. The Putnam family lands were located further to the west and included large tracts in the North Western portion of Salem Village, they continued expanding its lands in that direction. The Putman family had inadvertently condemned themselves to farming on diminishing lands as the family grew each generation.

The Putnam family lands being so far away from Salem Town center did not offer them much in the way of commercial ventures like the Porter family men were expanding on. Thomas Putman Sr. remarried after his first wife, Ann, who bore him 8 children, 2 of which were boys, passed away. Thomas had one child with his new wife, Mary, who they named Joseph. Upon Thomas senior’s death he left most of this property to the new wife, Mary, and the new son, Joseph, because his older sons had already established their farms on portions of his and that were given to them. Joseph Putnam became one of the richest men in the village at the age of 18. The eldest sons were not happy with the distribution of property and they put forth effort to probate the will but eventually failed in their endeavor. Two years later Joseph Putnam married Elizabeth Porter. With this marriage Joseph secured an alliance with the only family in town that was more influential or wealthy that that of the Putnam family.

The oldest Putnam brothers had a difficult time accepting this marriage. The family of Thomas Putnam had been experiencing what seemed like unexplainable hardships over the years with no apparent culprit. At this time the “Afflicted Girls’ began crying witch, all three of these girls lived under the roof of Thoman Putnam Jr. Thomas Juniors wife then began complaining of afflictions and from this point forward more witches continued being accused. The oldest Putnam brothers re-established their case for wrong doing when Josephs mother, Mary, passed away and cut them short in her will. Their claim this time was that Mary and Joseph had been irresponsible with his father’s estate and money for several years. Eventually Mary’s mental condition before her death would come into question but once again their attempts failed, this time thanks to Joseph Putnam’s ties to the Porter family. This book did a great job at examining the social issues and personal relationships of the time that contributed to the Salem Witch Trials.

The authors offered a multitude of evidence from Village and Church record books as well as property ownership and tax records to support the thesis that there were more factors at play during the Salem Witch Trials than generally noted when discussing the events of that time. I enjoyed reading this book because of the deep social web of relationships and human nature that is discussed within it. The authors offered many charts and graphs to help the reader visualize the property ownership locations, where the accusers and the witches lived, the back stories of both the Porter and Putnam families, the life of Samuel Parris, and support their claim of opposing factions in the area contributing to the ferocity of the trials.

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