“Daddy Issues” by Sandra Tsing Loh: The Rhetorical Analysis

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Caregiving can become a challenging task for a person who is responsible for the well-being of the relative. In her article “Daddy Issues”, Sandra Tsing Loh emotionally discusses her own experience in caregiving. Loh presents her personal story of a caregiver because she was responsible for caring of her 91-year-old father. The author is inclined to describe all the issues that she faced during her caregiving experience that exhausted her emotional and financial resources (Loh par. 1-2).

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Thus, the story starts from the attention getter when Loh says that she wants her father to die. In spite of the fact that Loh uses irony and all the rhetorical appeals in her article, including pathos, logos, and ethos, the main focus is on pathos because the author seems to emotionally persuade the audience that her unexpected wish of the father’s death can be understandable only for those persons who also took the roles of caregivers.

From this point, pathos is the main rhetorical strategy used by Loh in her article as she tries to shock the reader with each following phrase. Pathos as the appeal to the audience’s emotions can be discussed as the most effective tool to help the readers try on Loh’s role of a caregiver (Wilder 12; Wysocki and Lynch 38). From the first lines of the article, the reader’s attention is caught by the following phrase that is printed in capital letters to make the message more attractive and emotional: “My body bent double and I heard myself screaming: “I WAAAAAAAANT MY FATHERRRRRR TO DIEEEEE!!!” (Loh par. 1).

The author also uses capital letters in other parts of the article to illustrate the intrusive thoughts. Loh intends to make the emotional effect more intense, and she associates herself with the “Kafka character” to explain all the grim thoughts about the father (par. 3). Another approach to appeal to the readers’ emotions is to address them directly, as Loh does saying: “Hope your aged parents have at least half a million dollars apiece in the bank” (par. 7).

Finally, the author appeals to emotions when she lists facts that are intended to provoke the readers’ surprise or even shock. Thus, Loh chooses to speak about “a fun life” and the “extremely active 91-year-old who greatly enjoys getting bathed” and even “wants SEX” (Loh par. 19-23). It is possible to state that Loh uses the emotional appeal in order to not only attract the readers but also make them sympathize and understand all the shocking details of caregiving in this concrete case.

Therefore, to make the attention-grabbing details sound more authoritatively, Loh uses the ethos. In this context, the appeal to the credibility is realized with the help of Loh’s attempts to represent herself as an experienced caregiver who overcome a range challenges on this path. As a result, she assumes her credibility becoming ready to “enumerate shortly” some “issues” associated with her experience of taking care of her father (Loh par. 4).

In addition, Loh analyzes the situation as an experienced person and uses the vivid metaphor to present her conclusions: “Like an unnaturally iridescent convalescent-home maraschino cherry atop this Sisyphean slag heap of woe, what actually appears to take the greatest toll on caregivers is the sheer emotional burden of this (formless, thankless, seemingly endless) project” (par. 9). Moreover, Loh is represented as experienced enough to conclude about her whole life and days spent in caregiving: “I rant to myself: He is taking everything! He is taking all the money. He’s taken years of my life” (par. 32).

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The author’s motive to use the ethos is based on the necessity to address the audience’s needs and expectations because Loh’s article can attract the attention of caregivers, in the first instance. As a result, the story rich in the description of the experience can be discussed as more persuasive.

However, while focusing on her credibility, the author also needs to provide the actual facts or reasons to support the emotional claims. The appeal to reason or logos is used in Loh’s article directly to present the supporting data for her conclusions regarding the caregiver’s experience (Rife 261). Thus, Loh provides the facts regarding the disease statistics from the book by Jane Gross: “owing to medical advancements, cancer deaths now peak at age 65 and kill off just 20 percent of older Americans” (Loh par. 5). The other author who is referenced by the writer in her article is Gail Sheehy, and Loh states that “reading Sheehy is always a boost” (par. 10).

Only after citing reputable authors and describing the real-life cases in detail, Loh returns to the topic of her experience in caregiving while providing the grounds for the argument with the help of logos (Loh par. 10-14). It is possible to state that the references to the facts from the other sources are aimed at adding the validity to Loh’s arguments.

In addition to the rhetorical appeals, Loh also refers to the use of irony and humor in her text. The overall tone of the article seems to be ironical, but this irony s bitter because the author’s goal is to represent all the challenges associated with the role of a caregiver (Wysocki and Lynch 54). Thus, Loh introduces her ironical definition of ‘Elderschandenfreude’ as “the secret pleasure of hearing about aging parents that are even more impossible than yours” (par. 16).

She also ironically notices that her father coped with dehydration problems, her “problems really began” (Loh par. 20). In addition, the author’s notes about Craigslist are also full of irony that a reader can associate with Loh’s physical and emotional exhaustion (Loh par. 23). In this article, such rhetorical device as irony can be viewed as important to support the emotionally vivid statements said by the author in order to make the depicted picture rather completed.

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In her article, Loh seems to persuade the audience that caregiving is a role that can be performed only by strong people who can control themselves and do not think about the deaths of their relatives. In this context, the author masterly uses the rhetorical appeals in order to draw the readers’ attention to the most provocative aspects of her personal experience. For this purpose, Loh uses controversial details, emotionally colored words, and irony. In addition, the author of the article also supports her views with the help of referencing to the other writers’ ideas and with the help of accentuating her credibility as a caregiver who knows the aspects of the topic about which she writes. This approach allows perceiving the story as not only emotional but also credible and based on the real-life experience.

Works Cited

Loh, Sandra Tsing. Daddy Issues. 2012. Web.

Rife, Martine Courant. “Ethos, Pathos, Logos, Kairos: Using a Rhetorical Heuristic to Mediate Digital-Survey Recruitment Strategies.” Professional Communication 53.3 (2010): 260-277. Print.

Wilder, Laura. Rhetorical Strategies and Genre Conventions in Literary Studies: Teaching and Writing in the Disciplines. New York: SIU Press, 2012. Print.

Wysocki, Anne Frances, and Dennis Lynch. Compose, Design, Advocate: A Rhetoric for Integrating Written, Visual, and Oral Communication. New York: Pearson, 2013. Print.

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