Just Walk on by Brent Staples Rhetorical Analysis

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay Just Walk on by Brent Staples

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • The Rhetorical Situation
  • Ethos
  • Pathos
  • Logos
  • Conclusion


With so much positive influence on cultural diversity in society, it is hoping that people would be more accepting of others. Unfortunately, still, there are individuals who do not wish to accept others that are ‘different’. Staples introduces his essay “Just Walk on By”, that published in Harpers, in 1987 by recounting the frequent challenges of negative stereotypes that men of color face on a daily basis in public places in previous events. Brent Staples essay appeals to authority by recalling his stories, appeals to emotion through the structure of the essay, and appeals to logos through the logical structure of his writing by claiming that not all men are harmful and should no longer face labels such a ‘criminals’ about themselves.

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The Rhetorical Situation

The rhetorical situation begins with Staples stressing the problems that he faces in day to day life. This essay voiced the story of a twenty-two-year-old male-defined as someone dangerous and untrustworthy in an informal, casual tone. Meanwhile, Staples recalls the encounters he had to face as well as the emotional impact.

The writer, Brent Staples graduated from The University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in psychology, but, later returning to go in the direction as a journalist. Furthermore, the intended audience is for both men and women, especially African American males who might have shared similar situations, because their demeanor appeared unapproachable. Overall the article’s dialogue helped bring into line a strong appeal to ethos, pathos, and logos.


Throughout his piece, Brent Staples uses several strong results to support his credibility and appeal to ethos. The focus point is that assumptions can have a major impact on a persons’ life. With this in mind, his first realization was by how much his presence alarmed others, especially younger woman all the while enjoying an evening walk. For instance, at the time in Chicago in his early twenties, Staples recounts the portrayal of a woman who was white and well-dressed, during his time as a graduate student (Staples). The woman’s perception of him was that he was either a “rapist, mugger or worse”, seeing that she was running away from him (Staples). For one thing, the author recognizes how society is still separated and more dangerous; thus, feeling frustrated for men, especially men of color, who face a harsher backlash.


For this reason, Staples increases a strong appeal to pathos, with his emotional writing. In the introduction, the writer triggers the interest by saying, “My first victim was a woman”, which grabs immediate attention to the audience with the meaningful passage. However, the first thought that a reader might have would be that something terrible is about to take effect, but by proof and misconception of how others categorized him, will then shift sympathy for the author.


Adding to his pathos appeals, Staples uses strong appeals of logos, with logic through the structure of his argument in the middle section. He points out while walking the streets in Brooklyn, New York he will notice females with a worrisome look, as while holding onto their purse for dear life (Staples). Furthermore, the author understands as to why women are skeptical of their surroundings. As has been noted woman are particularly more vulnerable to a street attack, not to mention the writer notes, “young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of that violence” (Staples). He claims that even though the black male population, which he is part of is responsible for most of these circumstances towards humankind, he feels there is still no peace in light of the situation. Even though women should be alert at all times, he still expresses the annoyance of the continual narrow-mindedness of others.


Overall, Staples communicates a persuasive essay in term of how African American men are branded by discrimination in the world of woman and public places. He does a great job claiming each appeal subject to logic, emotion, and personal credibility. Readers can understand the problem that exists in both humanity and woman, with the effort of displaying his personal experiences, anger, and adapted due to this culturally divided word.

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