20 Rhetorical Analysis
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20 Rhetorical Analysis example: The Trade of Scavenging, Greg Geddes In Lars Eighner’s essay “On Dumpster Diving,” he discusses the formalities of what it takes to become a master in the art of digging through garbage. He tells his own personal story of how he became involved with dumpster diving . His story outlines everything he has learned as a scavenger and presents the information in a way that would help train someone to begin searching through what most people call garbage. His use of rhetoric in the essay enables the reader to see dumpster diving from his point of view. Lars Eighner proposes that dumpster diving is a reasonable way to acquire necessary goods. This essay appeals to two different audiences: (1) People who are interested in dumpster diving or are already involved in it, and (2) people who are wasteful . Readers interested in dumpster diving may find this essay as a useful “how to” guide. After reading the essay, the reader will gain an understanding of dumpster diving along with a knowledge of what to expect while digging through junk. To people who are wasteful this essay will serve as a wakeup 138    Genres call. The author assumes that the audience already has an attitude towards dumpster diving, whether it be positive or negative. Right after the opening paragraph of the essay, Eighner throws in a paragraph that is only eleven words long. It reads, “I began Dumpster diving about a year before I became homeless” (2). This sentence stands alone as its own paragraph in order to emphasize to the reader that Eighner chose to be a scavenger before he was left with no other choice. This demonstrates that from Eighner’s point of view, dumpster diving is simply another occupation. The rest of the essay helps reemphasize that dumpster diving should not be looked at as something that only homeless people do, but rather be viewed as another way to acquire goods. One of the highlights in the essay is Eighner’s description of the “predictable series of stages a person goes through in learning to scavenge” (31). This section clearly depicts the author’s view on homelessness. Eighner has recruited several people into the trade of scavenging, and as a result, he has seen the stages a person passes through before viewing dumpster diving as he does. At first, the new scavenger is ashamed of being seen by others, and will go to different lengths to protect his/her self-image (ducking behind things, digging through garbage at night, etc.). Eighner counters this by stating that most people instinctively look away from scavengers, and skulking around only draws attention and arouses suspicion. Also, it’s obvious that diving at night is ineffective and messy. He then explains that the new scavenger has a hard time seeing garbage as being anything but garbage. “Every grain of rice seems to be a maggot. Everything seems to stink” (33). The use of the word “seems” in these sentences shows that Eighner looks past the negative attributes most people apply to junk. By doing so, he helps the reader to see that garbage is not junk, but rather just things. He shows that the negative mindset passes with experience . The new dumpster diver learns that people throw away perfectly good things. At this stage, the diver realizes that “those who disparage his profession are the fools, not he” (37). After explaining how one can arrive at the top of the ranks in a dumpster diving career, Eighner shows the certain formalities involved in the profession. By explaining the common courtesies that are involved, i.e., dumpster diving etiquette, Eighner portrays the art of dumpster diving as a normal way of life. Just as in other areas of life where one must practice proper etiquette and manners, so it is with dumpster diving. He explains how “can scroungers” lack respect for dumpster divers. Can scroungers are blind to everything in dumpsters except for cans. They look past all other articles present in a dumpster, and as a result end up making a complete mess out of a dumpster, leaving everything in disarray. This is a major inconvenience to frequent dumpster divers . Along those same lines, Eighner states that can scroungers go to extreme lengths to collect cans, i.e., searching through garbage cans at residencies. The difference between foraging through a dumpster rather than a residential Rhetorical Analysis     139 garbage can is that there is a personal kind of invasion...



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  • English language -- Composition and exercises -- Study and teaching.
  • Literary form -- Study and teaching.
  • Language arts.
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