Catherine Dodd Corona

Jamaica Kincaid

Rhetorical Flaws of Jamaica Kincaid

Progymnasmata: Refutation

In no way is Jamaica Kincaid’s anger invalid, untruthful or dramatic, but her emotional blanket statements disvalues her rhetoric in her short story, A Small Place. I would first like to emphasize that her points are truthful and she should be taken seriously. In different places throughout the short story she seems to go on a tangent of rage toward the English or oppressors in general. This pathos in her story is an integral aspect but the frequency of it and the generalizations she makes forces her argument to be erratically emotional which does not give power to her argument. In her conclusion she remarks, “Not too long after, [Antigua] was settled by human rubbish from Europe, who used enslaved but noble and exalted human beings from Africa (all masters of every stripe are rubbish, and all slaves of every stripe noble and exalted; there can be no question about this.)” (p.80) These large blanket statements are not completely true on both the oppressor and oppressed sides. She uses extremely harsh language that juxtaposes her praising language, in a way that does not help her argument. While her anger and harshness is valid it does not help her argument. If you do not believe me think back to an argument you have had. If you discussed your points and communicated your anger how did that differ from screaming blanket and personal statements about the opposer. Even though the personal blanket statements may have truth to them, it does not help one’s rhetoric to carry red hot rage. Overall, it is not about what you are sharing. Kincaid should share her anger, it’s an important aspect of A Small Places’s pathos but it is more about how she shares her rage. 

After class thoughts:

After discussing this and revisiting some other passages I would like to point out where she does a fantastic job of using her rage to be persuasive. Page 32 is a great example when she discusses language. So my entry doesn’t exactly fit a refutation because I missed some areas where she does a great job of using emotion, so I am not exactly arguing against her rhetoric. I will say I remember the parts where she becomes especially erratic and not the parts where she does a good job, like on page 32.  Which does say something about her rhetoric.

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