Rhetorical Analysis Essay Silent Spring

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Carson – Silent Spring RA Final Draft
The 1960s were a tumultuous time, full of change not only in America, but throughout the world. Many environmental movements were present during this time of mass demonstration in America. One notable environmental argument was that against pesticide use. In this excerpt from noted biologist Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, the author uses various rhetorical terms to both denounce and vilify the use of parathion, a pesticide, declaring that the environmental effects are far more destructive, widespread, and detrimental than was previously thought.
Through her use of evocative diction, Carson is able to illustrate the widespread effects that parathion can have in language that is both strong and easy to understand for the reader. “Who has made the decision that sets in motion these chains of poisonings, this ever-widening wave of death that spreads out like ripples when a pebble is dropped in a still pond” (Lines 18-51). Referring to the use of parathion to kill as a chain of poisonings and a wave of death is meant to portray the use of parathion in a negative light. Carson uses this diction to denounce the use of this pesticide, attempting to curb the use of it by using strong words and expressions to convince her audience that it will kill innocent wildlife in massive numbers. Carson also uses evocative language when she refers to the use of the parathion to kill birds as a war waged on these birds (Lines 45-46). This expression is used to open the reader’s eyes to the fact that the parathion is no longer being used as a preventative measure, but is rather used to attack bird populations. War is a concept that most people are averse to, and do not want, contributing to Carson’s attempt to denounce the use of it. Through the use of this metaphor ad word choice, Carson is able to convince people not to use it as well. Overall, Carson is able to convince the reader that parathion is dangerous and destructive through the...

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Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people. Although Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and it inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There are many links to video and audio resources for analyzing the argument about within Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The resource features a link to the 2004B AP English Language exam which featured a rhetorical analysis from an excerpt from Silent Spring. There is also an Atlantic Monthly article on Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring turning 50 years old.

Also, there is a graphic organizer designed as a rhetorical triangle where students will look for appeals from a short documentary on Malaria and Rachel Carson. Instructions and strategies are included on how to teach a rhetorical précis, and hold an inner and outer Socratic Circle.

These lessons fit any Honors Literature class, Pre-AP, American Literature, AP English Language or Literature class to prepare students for AP English Language exams, Common Core extended response assessments, American Literature Course exams, the SAT and ACT essay and critical thinking activities. Now adaptable for ESOL classes.

The packet includes complete lessons, Common Core standards, essential and key questions. I have added an addendum that describes how to adapt the lessons for ELL students.

Tags: Close Reading, writing, Pre-AP, critical thinking, AP English Language, speech and debate, pesticides environment, agriculture, organic farming, social justice, argument, Socratic Seminar, synthesis, Rachel Carson, American Literature, Environmental Science, Ted Talks, NPR, theme, ELL adaptable material, flipped classroom

New Additions April 2017: link to Atlantic Monthly article on Silent Spring turning 50 years old. Reformatting and inclusion of 4th lesson. There is also a 30 question/answer key viewing guide to American Experience: Rachel Carson.

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