Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rhetorical Strategies

  • Appositive: “The Past Wednesday, returning from two weeks of treatment at the Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, her customary place of retirement, Mrs. Clutter had brought scarcely credible tidings to tell her husband” (7).
  • Foreshadowing: “Then, touching the brim of his cap, he headed for home and the day’s work, unaware that it would be his last” (13).
  • Simile: “When she opened it, the heat gathered inside the room was like a sudden, awful hand over her mouth” (29).
  • Simile: “It was as though his head had been halved like an apple, then put together a fraction off center” (31).
  • Imagery: “Blue-furred, orange-eyed, red-fanged, a tiger snarled upon his left biceps; a spitting snake, coiled around a dagger, slithered down his arm; and elsewhere skulls gleamed, a tombstone loomed, a chrysanthemum flourished” (32).
  • Alliteration: “But what meant most to Kenyon—and Bob, too—was their wandering, wrapping up in blankets, listening at sunrise for the noise of wings, moving toward the sound on tiptoe, and then, sweetest of all, swaggering homeward with a dozen duck dinners swinging from their belts” (39).
  • Onomatopoeia: “It’s like playing tackle on a football team: Wham! Wham! WHAM! Not that I’m complaining, mind you” (66).
  • Metaphor: Goes to whoever puts in the lowest bid. And I always do—so low a caterpillar could peek over it” (67).
  • Rhetorical question: “For who could sleep in a house—a modest one-story house—where all night the telephone had been sounding every few minutes?” (100).
  • Invective: “Sure I did. Only—a nigger. It’s not the same” (109).

In his novel In Cold Blood, Truman Capote utilizes various rhetorical strategies to bring diversity to his unique style of writing. He employs certain rhetorical devices to bring about an assortment of information in a specific way, whether it is about the murdered Clutter family and the investigation of their deaths or the killers themselves. Through the use of an appositive, as seen above, Capote is allowed to create an informative style of writing by being able to include the additional information about Mrs. Clutter’s treatment center that she is returning home from is the one she normally attends to. It allows for that extra detail to be known to the reader without necessarily affecting the purpose of the sentence itself. Throughout the story, Capote uses a vast amount of imagery, which is essential to his producing his detailed style of writing that he develops with every scene he illustrates to the reader as the plot builds up.


  1. You have a great knowledge of rhetorical strategies, however, you should have gone into more detail in your analysis. I agree that Capote's writing is laden with rhetorical strategies and he uses them to create diversity in his writing and draw in the reader's attention. The specific devices he used add to the tone that he tries to create- a melancholy yet detached tone. For example, through his use of the appositive,“The Past Wednesday, returning from two weeks of treatment at the Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, her customary place of retirement, Mrs. Clutter had brought scarcely credible tidings to tell her husband," Capote begins the saddening story. Because he wrote it from such a logical standpoint, he creates a detached tone. The way he creates tone and mood through diction add to his unique style.

  2. The wide variety of devices incorporated into the novel is thoroughly represented by the list you have included above. In your analysis, you did a good job of stating how a few of the rhetorical strategies aid in developing the story; however, you may want to go into more depth on how each device was implemented for a certain function. By describing the function, this will help you understand why Capote chose to use the certain strategy and how it affects his style (think about how his choice of rhetorical devices makes his writing unique).
    You mentioned that imagery is frequently used to portray scenes, personally I believe it is used to help develop characterization as well. This is because the imagery changes as the points of view change. The tattoo imagery above effectively represents this. Also, the similes and metaphors have similar effects. The author chooses to implement these devices in an attempt to make comparisons between two unlike objects to bring an understanding to the scene. Foreshadowing plays a significant role in the first few chapters as well. Comments made by Dick, Perry, and quotes from the Bible predict misfortune later on in the novel.
    Other strategies such as alliteration affect the writer's style by drawing attention to the statement being made and rhetorical questions can make a subject thought provoking for the reader. Each device incorporated into In Cold Blood by Capote has created a unique writing style which makes the overall story skillfully composed.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Your plethora of rhetorical strategies is quite amazing. I would not have been able to find that appositive because it is somewhat hidden in the sentence. The fact that you were able to find it shows that you were truly paying attention while you were reading the book. However, if you could analyze each and every rhetorical strategy and how it ties in with the style, or tone, that would have been a nice balance between commentary and quotes. Perhaps describing who was talking in the quote or why you think the quote is an important contribution to the style of Capote's novel would have made your analysis more exemplary. Maybe, you could have explained why similes are abundant in this novel and how they contribute to the sinister and suspenseful style. You could also justify that you used quoted two similes because they were the most important out of the rhetorical strategies because they can give the reader something to relate to. However, I do agree that Capote's employment of various rhetorical strategies contributes most effectively to his style. I think that without these strategies his book would not have been as interesting.