Contrast in “Days of Obligation” Acclaimed American author Richard Rodriquez’s autobiography “Days of Obligation” conveys that his feelings for both Mexico and the United States can be expressed through contrasts. Rodriquez uses pathos, tropes, and schemes to articulate his feelings. His purpose for writing about the contrasts between Mexico and California is to help readers understand the differences that affected his life. Rodriguez’s relationship with his literate audience is personal, since he is opening about his personal life and his views on it.
In the passage, Rodriguez’s use of pathos is evident in many places. In the first paragraph alone he uses it when he states that “Mexico play the tragic part; California plays the role of America’s wild child. ” From this compassion of the two places, Rodriguez’s feelings of each place can be seen. He views Mexico as a place of sadness and suffering, while California is seen as the place of freedom and adventure he so desperately wants. His views on Mexico are also relayed using pathos when he points out that “Mexico knew tragedy.
My Mexican father…believed…that life will break your heart; that death finally is the vantage point from which a life must be seen. ” Although he portrays Mexico as such a tragic place, Rodriguez later states that he does not see California as a much better place because “California is such a sad place, really – a state where children run away from parents, a state of pale beer, and young old women, and divorced husbands living alone in condos. “ Rodriguez persuades us to believe that California is a place that although not tragic, is still quite a sad and lonely place to live.
Rodriquez also has traces of schemes in the passage. Two schemes present include on of omission and one of repetition. Polysyndeton, which is a scheme of omission and the deliberate us of many conjunctions, can be seen in the ninth paragraph, when Rodriquez testifies that in California you can “change your name, change your sex, get a divorce, become a movie star. ” Another scheme used in the passage is an anaphora, which is repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses.
This figure of speech is seen in the fourth paragraph when Rodriguez says “I use the word ‘comedy’ here as the Greeks used it, with upmost seriousness, to suggest a world where youth is not a fruitless metaphor; where it is possible to start anew; where it is possible to escape the rivalries of the Capulets and the McCoys; where young women can disprove the adages of grandmothers. ” The uses of these schemes are important in the passage because they stress emphasis on certain things that help him in explaining and conveying his feelings.
Another way Rodriguez explores and conveys his conflicted feelings is with use of tropes. He uses rhetorical question, which is asking a question, not for the purpose of eliciting an answer but for the purpose of asserting or denying something obliquely. The most effective rhetorical questions in conveying his feelings is in the second to last paragraph. He questions things such as “How shall I present the argument between comedy and tragedy, this tension that describes my life?
Shall I start with the boy’s chapter, then move toward more ‘mature’ tragic conclusions? ” These questions help define the confusion Rodriquez faces for the reader. Through the use of pathos, schemes, and tropes, Rodriquez offers his conflicting feelings about California and Mexico. By contrasting Mexico and California with these styles of writing, he sets up the reader to see and understand these conflicting feelings. Without these contrasts, the feelings of the author would not be as easily conveyed.