Rhetorical Analysis “The C Word in the Hallway”

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Mental health has been a debatable and relevant topic. The passage talks about the stigma related to mental health and how the issue is deeper than just what people notice. But even with all the attention surrounding it, things have remained stable. Anna Quindlen’s “The C Word in the Hallway” explores the role and impact of mental health in the 1990’s. Although things cannot change overnight, she utilizes figurative language and appeals in her writing to express the frustration and thoughts she is trying to convey.

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Quindlen is able to defend her position using many different types of rhetoric language, including diction and syntax. Her strong use of both clearly dictate her thoughts and opinions on the topic of mental health and many other related infrastructures, including the public’s view of it, the availability of it to the general public, and how everything could change. When diction and syntax are utilized, it creates an effect of dramatization and realization as one reads. Her word choice is very dramatic and blunt affect to enforce her thoughts, including words like utilitarian, scapegoats, marginalized, etc. The varying complexity of each sentence gives off a different effect. Longer, more complex sentences exaggerate the truth, which allow the readers to realize exactly what is happening. Some prime examples are “That’s what the doctors call it when a kid kills himself and they go back over the plowed ground of his short life, and discover all the hidden markers that led to the rope, the blade, the gun.” (Quindlen, P1) and when she mentions two cases where people were examined very quickly with no regard to help and rhetorically questioned (Quindlen, P3).

Shorter, simpler sentences state the blunt truth as it is, leaving readers in shock as they realize the truth. A few examples of this are “Sam Manzie is only 17” (Quindlen, P2) and other times she states some hard to grasp facts. Combined, these demonstrate the author’s view, being serious and dramatic all to prove her point, that none of us really seem to see the truth: society doesn’t comprehend the idea of mental health nor see why society’s negative view of it and all that surround sit needs to be changed. That’s why she wrote “the C Word in the Hallway”.

To make a point is to be convincing of one’s view, and using appeals help writers accomplish that. After reading her writing, it is quite obvious that she uses all types of appeals to focus the readers’ attention on her main idea, change surrounding mental health. Quindlen logically appeals to her audience by arguing that if society had treated those in need of help, then there’s many issues that could be on their way to being resolved by now, yet they can’t be, because of the fault in the systems. An example of her trying to logically appeal to her audience is when she writes, “… psychological intervention is cheaper than incarceration,” (Quindlen, P6). She argues about how it isn’t ethical to deny some of their right to get help by being expensive, like when she explained how the mental health system is often seen as shameful and incomprehensible and how many people think the same way (Quindlen, P5). It’s ridiculous how healthcare is a debatable topic. Another arguable point is that we shouldn’t treat mental health like a disease of sorts, to single out those who suffer from one and ignore them or ridicule them simply because many don’t understand. For example, society’s toxic view on men and what really defines their masculinity, how they can’t talk about their feelings or else they’re seen as “sissified” and such (Quinkdlen, P8). We as a society should know better than to ostracize anything different than normal. In order to emphasize a message, an author needs to appeal to their audience.

Every piece of work has a reason for its existence. Authors almost always have a reason as to why they create what they do. Quindlen’s purpose for writing “The C Word in the Hallway” was to censure all the parts of society which are partially cause for this whole issue. Figures of authority (like parents and police) are lethargic in distinguishing between those who suffer from a mental problem and those who can tell the difference between right and wrong and are also neglectful in treating those with complications and in realizing when there is an issue present. If society handled mental health with the necessary behavior, then almost everybody would see how critical it is to our well-beings and how it should be taken seriously (Quindlen, P9). She also criticizes the healthcare business because help for those who need it are not readily available due to how expensive and scarce it is. She compares it to a vaccine, how it should be a necessity and obtainable to all (Quindlen, P1). Seeing that this was also written by someone who saw the wrong in all that was done and someone who is also an activist or at least has a want for change. Altogether, the author wrote this passage to point out all the errors in the way things were/are and inspires all of us to change that.

The idea of mental health is a controversial one and it’s far from being settled. “The C Word in the Hallway” criticizes parents, authorities, and those who work in and around healthcare as they seem to neglect the issue and aren’t very helpful in solving it. Quindlen feels that mental health isn’t taken seriously and more often than not, blown off or taken as something else when people just don’t understand. Nobody should have to suffer from a mental issue and the behavior of others based on the fact that they have one. And to say that the issues she addressed in her writing hasn’t changed is crazy. 

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Rhetorical Analysis “The C Word In The Hallway”. (2021, Jul 01). Retrieved December 7, 2022 , from

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