ENG 111 1
Assignment #2. Rhetorical Analysis
Due: December 3 (Thursday) 9:00 PM on Blackboard (20% of your final grade)
This assignment asks you to produce a rhetorical analysis essay of 750-1000 words. Your paper
must be a response to one of the essays or articles we read in class. You do not have to agree
with the original text, but you must analyze the text in depth in order to respond critically to it.
Note that your job in this assignment is NOT to express an opinion about the subject matter, but
to explain the efficiency of the writing strategies that are used in the text. You can consider the
traditional appeals of logos, ethos, and pathos; however, for the purpose of this assignment,
consider examining the rhetorical situations from various perspectives, including purpose,
audience, word choice, tone, effectiveness of rhetorical devices (e.g. use of anecdotes/ statistics/
pictures), and effectiveness of writing patterns (e.g. definition/ comparison/ contrast/
classification) in the essay of your choice.
For this assignment, you should use at least one outside source to support your analysis beyond
the piece you have chosen to analyze. You can use this additional source to either criticize or
support the original essay or article. Your critical response should have a clear point to make
about the original text and should be supported by reasons and evidence. In other words, you will
make an argument about someone else’s argument. Whenever necessary, you can use direct
quotations to elucidate your point; however, do not use block quotations (a long quotation that is
more than four lines and is set off from the text by indenting) in your essay.
The original text and any outside source(s)must be documented in MLA style, with in-text
citations and a Works Cited page. The Works Cited page does not count toward the word count.
All pages should be numbered and your name should be printed on each page. On the top of the
first page, put your name, my name, the course number (ENG 111), and the date of submission.
Your essay should be word-processed in 2.0 line spacing and 12-point Times New Roman, with
1″ margin. Please feel free to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
Articles You Can Choose for this Assignment:
Any essay we’ve studied during the first four weeks [Welty, Didion, Kingston, Thiong’o, Rodriguez, Rose, Bolina, Williams]
ENG 111 2
Sample Rhetorical Analysis 1
November 19, 2018
Critical Response on Mike Rose’s “Blue-Collar Brilliance”
Judging a person’s intellectual ability based on their occupation is a common and
naturally occuring thought in our society. By seeing what a person does to make a living for
themselves, one can instantly presume the intelligence level of another. This action of judging
someone’s intellect based on their job is something that writer and UCLA professor Mike Rose
has had an issue with. In the article “Blue-Collar Brilliance” Rose argues that by making the
presumption about someone’s cognitive ability, people “reinforce social separations and cripple
our ability to talk across cultural divides” (Rose 456). Basically, by prejudging someone’s
intelligence, people are limiting the sharing of the diverse knowledge that our society provides.
Rose analyzes this issue with stories of personal experience, clear and persuasive language, and
consideration of multiple perspectives.
He begins the article with a story about his childhood and humble beginnings. Being that
his mother was a waitress, this is considered a blue-collar job, and Rose recalls he “would
occasionally hang out at the restaurant until her shift was ended, then we’d ride the bus home
with her” (Rose 449). By introducing his argument with a childhood story, Rose is attempting to
sway the reader with an emotional connection. He is looking for the reader to relate to him by
noting nostalgic memories of seeing his mother work. Rose is also attempting to make the reader
ENG 111 3
empathize with his mother and her job. By encompassing the reader’s emotions, the stories he
writes about keep the reader engaged throughout the article.
In the latter half of the article, Rose invokes another personal story about his hard-
working family member, Joe. With this story, Rose takes a somewhat different approach.
Because it is a matter of fact, this story more clearly and logically relates to his argument than
the previous. For example, Rose claims Joe “left school in ninth grade to work for the
Pennsylvania Railroad…and eventually joined his older brother at General Motors, over a 33
year career” (Rose 452). This is a sequential list of the events that led to Joe’s career, instead of a
story with sensory details. He then goes on to explain the immense amount of learning that Joe
had to go through while working in a factory. He claims Joe “learned more and more about the
auto industry, the technological and social dynamics of the shop floor, the machinery and
production processes, and the basics of paint chemistry and of plating and baking” (Rose 453).
By naming multiple concepts that Joe had learned, Rose is showing the reader that blue-collar
workers are capable of learning many different subjects. Through the telling of personal stories,
Mike Rose engages the reader logically and emotionally to help explain his argument.
The language utilized by Mike Rose in his article “Blue-Collar Brilliance” helps the
reader understand his argument more clearly. As he begins his article with a story about his
childhood, Rose uses sensory details to help the reader gain an image in their mind of what he is
trying to portray. For example, when describing his mother’s job he explains “pencil poised over
pad, while fielding questions about the food. She walked full tilt through the room with plates
stretching up her left arm and two cups of coffee somehow cradled in her right hand” (Rose 450).
This description and use of specific details helps the reader envision what it would have been
like to be in Rose’s mother’s position as a waitress. Rose also uses concise language to more
ENG 111 4
clearly make his point to the reader. For example, Rose claims “Generalizations about
intelligence, work, and social class deeply affect our assumptions about ourselves and each other,
guiding the ways we use our minds to learn, build knowledge, solve problems, and make our
way through the world” (Rose 452). He clearly states his argument and provides his reasoning in
a sequential order, making it easy for the reader to understand his position.
Rose also effectively makes his argument without showing bias to any one group of
people by explaining his multiple perspectives. Although his mother worked a blue-collar job
and lacked much formal education, Rose was different. He “studied the humanities and later the
social and psychological sciences and taught for 10 years in a range of situations” (Rose 451).
This shows that he is not only capable of arguing for the importance of blue-collar jobs, but also
has much experience in having a white-collar job and teaching formal education. Knowing this
helps the reader trust that there is no bias and that he is experienced with both sides of the
argument. He ultimately argues that people who work in blue-collar fields are not necessarily
less intelligent than those who work in white-collar fields.
Although Rose effectively makes his argument clear to the reader, there is room for more
explanation of his viewpoints. After describing his story through schooling, he subtly downplays
the importance of formal education. Rose discusses how blue-collar workers learn just as much
and are as intelligent as many white-collar workers. By doing this, he sways the reader to
devalue formal education. In an article composed by Moses C. Simuyemba, he emphasizes that
“Formal education is important not only because of what you are taught specifically, but for
other reasons as well such as what it builds into your character, personality and way of thinking”
(Simuyemba). By not explaining this viewpoint, Rose is overlooking the necessity of formal
ENG 111 5
Workers of the white-collar and blue-collar nature prove to be very hard working people.
However, the white-collar workers tend to diminish the intelligence of the blue-collar worker
because of prejudice and assumption, according to Mike Rose. Given that he has an immense
amount of formal education and is a white-collar worker, it is somewhat surprising that he is
defending those on the opposite end of the spectrum. However, coming from a blue collar family
gives him the perspective of someone in that line of work in “Blue-Collar Brilliance”, Rose
effectively argues to the reader how the level of intelligence and problem-solving within the
blue-collar working community can be comparable to that of the white-collar community.
ENG 111 6
Note: Works Cited should be put on a separate page (it is included here on the last page to
Rose, Mike. “Blue-Collar Brilliance.” The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction, edited by
Melissa A. Goldthwaite et al., 14th ed., W. W. Norton, 2017, pp.449-56.
<- Indent the bibliographic information so that the author’s last name is the only text that
is flush left. Here’s how to indent: select the paragraph -> right click and choose
“Paragraph” -> go to “Indentation” in the middle of “Indents and Spring” (first
section) -> choose “Hanging” in “Special.”
Simuyemba, Moses. “The Value of a Formal Education.” AuthorsDen.com, Publish America,
authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?id=48821. Accessed 19 Nov. 2018.
ENG 111 7
Sample Rhetorical Analysis 2
October 29, 2018
Blue Collar Breakdown
Ever since childhood, people are taught that the more they learn, the more they earn in
the future. The formula is surprisingly, stupidly, and deviously simple: the parents tell their child
to study hard, go to school, become a doctor or engineer, get showered with money, and live a
good life. Success is supposedly paved with a college degree. Unfortunately, this formula to
success does not fit most Americans. Many people often find themselves along the path of life
working at either a service or trade job. People in service jobs are found everywhere, yet receive
little acknowledgement: the girl in the coffee shop; the boy in Auto Service; the men in the
factories. Most academics, and likewise, most Americans, claim that service work is for the ones
who throw their education away into a trash can of dreams broken by laziness (Kennedy). Mike
Rose is not one of these academics. His article “Blue Collar Brilliance” confronts the myth of
the average, molasses-minded, simpleton worker by providing a new perspective. Throughout
the text, he solidifies that workers are a lot smarter than they seem through a mix of personal
history, examples from his research, and academic analysis.
Rose starts with a short anthology about how two types of education affected his life.
There is no denying that a good education is a useful skill to have in the adult world. It definitely
helped Rose become a smarter, better person. However, Rose was not just another product of the
education system. His parents, who were Italian immigrants, never got the opportunities he did
ENG 111 8
when it came to schooling, so Rose’s early life was spent seeing relatives work in the service and
trade industries. He often watched how his mom waited tables and was fascinated by it: “I
couldn’t have put in words when I was growing up, but what I observed in my mother’s
restaurant defined the world of adults, a place where competence was synonymous with physical
work” (Rose 450). Although a formal schooling got Rose into a good position in a professional
career, he never forgot where he came from or how his mother always knew what to do while
working– a different kind of intelligence, one that required precise decisions, sense of time, and
plenty of experience. Rose uses his diner days as an opening to his article to not only display his
appreciation for people with service jobs, but to show that it led to his research with service
workers and discovering how exactly their minds worked.
Rose’s mom was able to memorize complex orders using memory tricks, negotiate with
the cook successfully, and talk with her family while knowing exactly how many refills of coffee
were needed around the restaurant. These are some of the few examples of the feats that Rose
remembers his mother doing. “Blue Collar Brilliance” is brimming with examples of not only his
mother but examples of his uncle Joe and the multiple people that Rose worked with. Since most
of his research in the workforce is experienced-based, Rose tries to introduce a window into the
workforce experience for the reader because schooling is not enough for the reader to
comprehend how challenging a service job can be: “A significant amount of teaching, often
informal and indirect, takes place at work” (Rose 455). To achieve this, he lets readers get a
glimpse of how the experience works through sensory nouns and verbs: “Much of the physical
work is social and interactive. Movers determining how to get an electric range own a flight of
stairs requires coordination, negotiation, planning, and the establishing of incremental goals
(Rose 455).” These examples allow readers to get absorbed into how multiple trade careers work
ENG 111 9
in a single sitting so they can get a better understanding about the hidden intelligence blue collar
workers have. While many see an oily mechanic fixing a screw, the mechanic is calculating how
tight the screws have to be so that they don’t fall off in the middle of the road; what type and size
of screw the car needs; and if that screw needs a special wrench or not.
Most people know that this kind of intelligence has a name: “street-smart.” Not
surprisingly, just like blue collar jobs, street smarts are underappreciated in the world of today.
Gerald Graff, a fellow intellectual and education reformer, sums up the situation perfectly:
“What a waste, we think, that one who is so intelligent about so many things in life seems unable
to apply that intelligence to academic work” (Graff 418). However, people with street smarts
excel at the high-paced, constantly changing environment of the workplace. In order to explain
how street-smarts tie into practical work, Rose goes all out academic on the cognitive demands
of the multiple jobs displayed throughout the article: “Carpenters have an eye for length, line,
and angle; hair stylists are attuned to shape, texture, and motion. Sensory data merge with
concept, as when an auto mechanic relies on sound, vibration, and even smell to understand what
cannot be observed” (Rose 455). Workers, Rose says, need to grasp time management, social
skills, immediate demands, self-control, technical skills, and multitasking all in a shorter amount
of time. In order for Rose’s own mother and uncle to succeed in their jobs, they needed to
understand people and how to get their messages across with complete clarity, something that
equates to a psychology or a public speaking class. There is no time to sit idly by and read a
production manual; hours of grueling practice are endured to make most of the worker’s every
move so that everything can be done perfectly and on time.
Through his research and past, Mike Rose has stressed the fact that the workplace,
whether in service or trade, is a living classroom that is frequently underestimated. Throughout
ENG 111 10
“Blue Collar Brilliance,” Rose breaks down multiple jobs analytically for the scholarly mind,
exposing the social, technical, and cognitive workings of multiple service jobs all with details fit
for the experience itself. While the scholar learns about something, the practical worker learns a
similar topic while doing another task in the process. Workers have the cognitive knowledge,
Rose explains, to do a multitude of tasks at the same time while honing their social skills to the
benefit of their services (Rose 455). The barista at the coffee shop may know how to make
twelve different kinds of espresso drinks without much thought. The boy mechanic can know
about the broken muffler just by hearing that sweet motor run. The factory workers know how to
organize themselves, boosting their production rates with their special knowledge of the
infrastructure and machines. People forget that most of the economy, and even the people
themselves, run on double-shot coffee, cars, and cheap, factory-produced goods. Mike Rose
brings up an important truth: some people may not be book-smart, but that does not mean that
they are necessarily stupid. Intelligence comes in multiple ways. At least, until the robots take
ENG 111 11
Graff, Gerald. “Hidden Intellectualism.” The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction, edited
by Melissa A. Goldthwaite et al., 14th ed., W. W. Norton, 2017, pp.418-22.
Kennedy, Emma. “Opinion: Blue Collar Workers Are Treated as Lesser Citizens.” The New
Political, 22 Mar. 2017, thenewpolitical.com/2017/03/21/opinion-blue-collar-workers-
reated-lesser-citizens. Accessed 28 Oct. 2018.
Rose, Michael. “Blue-Collar Brilliance.” The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction, edited
by Melissa A. Goldthwaite et al., 14th ed., W. W. Norton, 2017, pp.449-56.