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We can discuss the cartoon in the terms we’ve been using to examine texts that are exclusively verbal: The subject is the death of Rosa Parks, a well-known person loved by many. The speaker is Tom Toles, a respected and award-winning political cartoonist. The audience is made up of readers of the Washington Postand other newspapers; that is, it’s a very broad audience. The speaker can assume his audience shares his admiration and respect for Parks and that they view her passing as the loss of a public figure as well as a private woman. And finally, the context is a memorial for a well-loved civil rights activist, and Toles’s purpose is to remember Parks as an ordinary citizen whose courage and determination brought extraordinary results.
VISUAL RHETORIC 11As you can see in this example, it’s not uncommon for one passage or image to use more than one appeal. Readers’ familiarity with Toles — along with his obvious respect for his subject — establishes his ethos. The image in the cartoon appeals primarily to pathos. Toles shows Rosa Parks, who was a devout Christian, as she is about to enter heaven through the pearly gates; they are attended by an angel, probably Saint Peter, who is reading a ledger. Toles depicts Parks wearing a simple coat and carrying her pocketbook, as she did while sitting on the bus so many years ago. The commentary at the bottom right reads, “We’ve been holding it [the front row in heaven] open since 1955,” a reminder that more than fifty years have elapsed since Parks resolutely sat where she pleased. The caption can be seen as an appeal to both pathos and logos. Its emotional appeal is its acknowl-edgment that, of course, heaven would have been waiting for this good woman, but the mention of “the front row” appeals to logic because Parks made her mark in history for refusing to sit in the back of the bus. Some might even read the cap-tion as a criticism of how slow the country was both to integrate and to pay trib-ute to Parks.
12 CHAPTER 1 • AN INTRODUCTION TO RHETORIC• ASSIGNMENT •Analyze a political cartoon in terms of the rhetorical triangle and its appeals to logos, pathos, and ethos. As part of your analysis of audience, note if pos-sible where the cartoon first appeared, and describe that source’s political leanings. Finally, examine the interaction of written text and visual images.An Example of Rhetoric from LiteratureRhetoric is by no means limited to nonfiction. Poetry, fiction, and drama also seek to persuade. For example, in Book 24 of Homer’s epic The Iliad,the story of the Trojan War, the Greek warrior Achilles has defeated the Trojan prince Hector. Achilles has not only refused to return his rival’s body to Troy for burial, but he has also dishonored it by lashing it to a chariot and pulling it through the dirt.