Rhetorical and literary strategies the author uses to achieve her purpose
In “The Ways We Lie,” Stephanie Ericson tells about the different ways people lie and further explains the reasons for lying. The story explains the different kinds of lies told daily by most people, and the justification for these lies. In achieving this, she perfectly uses rhetorical and literary strategies as described hereunder.
The article (editorial) begins as a narrative and revolves around a simple and factual generalization that human beings are liars. The author speaks directly to the reader and incorporates the reader in the story through the use of “we”. She then takes the reader through a journey of self-realization. By the use of her own examples, quotes, proven evidence and examples of people, the author ensures that the reader (audience) realizes that he/she has lied in one way or the other. The reader also identifies the qualifications for being a liar through the author’s effective persuasion.
Language and Style:
The author is keen on her word choice. She uses a variety of words that make her article different. Her language has perfect rhythm as the reader clearly understands what she really means. She uses elevated language in her examples so as to drive her points home. The variation in sentences keeps the story fresh and interesting. Her sarcasm lightens up the story. The author’s language and style can be described as simple and smart and includes the use of allusions, informal language, repetition, logical fallacies, and quotations.
Allusion is described as a real or fictitious reference to an event, a person, or a place. The story employs the use of allusions. An example is drawn from page 124 paragraph 3.
The omission of the Sumerian goddess Lilith from Genesis—as well as her
demonization by ancient misogynists as an embodiment of female evil—felt
like spiritual robbery.” (Page 124)
The author uses spontaneous speeches in real-life or natural situations. She also prefers the use of low language to high one as depicted in the second paragraph. The quote below illustrates this.
“How was your day?” I said, “Oh, fine,” knowing that one more straw might break his back. A friend called and wanted to take me to lunch. I said I was busy. Four lies in the course of a day, none of which I felt the least bit guilty about. (Page 120).
The author has achieved greatly through repetition. This makes her put more emphasis on the points she feels are more important. At the same time repetition crates some rhythm, and breaks boredom. This can clearly be seen in paragraph three as quoted below:
We lie. We all do. We exaggerate, we minimize, we avoid confrontation, we spare people’s feelings, we conveniently forget, we keep secrets, we justify lying to the big-guy institutions.
Just as repetition, the use of rhetorical questions acts as a perfect ingredient for creating clarity and understanding of the most important points. At the same time, rhetorical questions capture the reader’s attention and make him/her actively engaged in the story. The author has used this device in various cases. An example is given below:
Like most people, I indulge in small falsehoods and still think of myself as an honest person. Sure I lie, but it doesn’t hurt anything. Or does it? (page 120).
Tone and Mood
This essay has a very relaxed tone and mood. This is because the author has used her own personal experience and examples of lying. She authenticates her examples with examples from outside. The use of informal language also contributes to the relaxed tone and mood. The essay is not just about informing the reader of the different types and ways of lying; it is mostly concerned about making the reader realize that every human being is a liar.
Stephanie Ericson, “The Ways We Lie.” Retrieved at http://www.qsl.net/kb4rpv/ways-lie.pdf