There is a natural ebb and flow of people. People stand in a slow moving river that flows with time. Like a busy cafeteria, there is an upbeat hustle and bustle here and there, to and fro. This place is not a destination for many them, it is merely a stop-off to somewhere else. Inside a Starbucks coffee outlet are smells of different brews being made for customers. The place has an earthy feel because there are dark, wooded colors. Some people come and order their coffee and then they quickly leave to wherever they are going. For some this is a destination. They sit at tables and lean over laptops, the majority of them Apple Macbooks. There are three employees manning the counter. They are all young, either in their final years of high school or their first year of college. A young child holds his mother’s hands and peers into a glass case containing different sweets. There is the sound of women’s high heels on the wooden floor. Clouded light from the window penetrates the glass and creates shadows within the store. Prominent is the woman inside the green Starbucks logo.
There is clatter and commotion. Everyone is in a hurry. No one is noticing anyone else. They are lost in the world of their smart phones. Everyone is lost in the sounds coming from their headphones. The scents of coffee brewing and pastries is overwhelming. People are impatient because this is not a destination for most of them, it is merely a place they are stopping off along the way. The lighting is too sharply contrasted. Light from the window is bright, but further in the store the light is dim, creating a stark contrast. Three employees manning the cash register and taking orders seem too young to be competent in their job. A child smudges the glass of pastries with dirty hands. The floor has been left with dozens of dirty footprints from people who did not bother to wipe their shoes at the door.
I begin the first paragraph using a metaphor that compares the line of people waiting to get coffee to a river. The word choice I use in the first sentence reflects this metaphorical comparison, by using the words “ebb” and flow.” This is to set up a positive feeling for the place that is being described. I want this paragraph to flow like a river that it is being compared to. I also incorporate similes by stating that the cafe is “like a busy cafeteria.” I use word choices evoke a sense of nature and calm, such as “earthy feel,” “wooded colors,” and “clouded light.” I use the word ‘upbeat’ to establish that any activity is positive rather than stressful or chaotic. I incorporate both showing and telling when I state that “for some, this is a destination” (telling) and go on to describe people leaning over their laptops (showing). The description of a young child with his mother who is looking at sweets is a small narrative that brings a more human element into the paragraph, and evokes warm feelings in the reader.
In the second paragraph, I describe the same place with a different point of view. I use disruptive word choices such as “clatter” and “commotion.” I also use the technique of telling again when describing how distant and hurried the customers are, by stating that they are ‘hurried,’ ‘lost in their smartphones and headphones,’ and ‘not noticing anyone else.’ In making these statements, I tell the reader that instead of seeing people who are happily going about their day getting a coffee, people are in a hurry and are not mindful of what is going on. I make use of more words that evoke negativity or harshness such as “overwhelming,” “impatient,” “stark contrast,” “dirty hands,” and “dirty footprints.” I describe the child that I described in the first paragraph in a negative way by removing the warm human element of a sweet little boy holding his mother’s hand and note only that he smudged the glass that contains the pastries. Instead of describing the clerks as youthful and alive, I make a judgmental statement about their competence. I invoke descriptive language to make my description of the physical characteristics of the place negative as well, focusing on how harsh and bright the light is, and how dirty the floor is with footprints, and even suggest that the customers are inconsiderate or lazy by pointing out that they “did not bother” to wipe their feet at the door.
Learning to describe things adequately is very important in order to be a well-developed person. One of the reasons that language is useful is that it can transport someone outside of their present moment to somewhere else, real or imagined. Being able to describe things well in writing is important for a lot of jobs, since email is a primary mode of communication. It also will help form me into a well-rounded individual and will make me a better storyteller. I believe that humans live at the level of their stories. From the caves of our ancestors, to the social media of today, all of this is a means of communication. Rather than leaving up descriptions to chance, rhetorical analysis helps a writer (and a reader) understand why a particular text makes a person feel a certain way. Rhetorical analysis allows a writer to think about what words he/she is using, what rhetorical devices he/she is employing and why. It is getting to the heart of not just how language works, but how human beings react to language. The better a person gets at using this tools, the clearer his/her meaning will be and the better they will be able to convey things. This is why these skills are good for life and they extend being this class, or this assignment or this grade. They will be useful for the rest of my life in order to communicate efficiently and have my meaning understood.