The Company Man

Growing up, I always hated when my mom or dad had to work late. I perceived it as them caring more about their job than me but I never realized that it was for me. In Ellen Goodman’s passage, “The Company Man” she uses a bitter tone to describe her attitude toward Phil and his working habits. Goodman gives examples of how Phil’s excessive work hours affected the people around him using anaphora, pathos, and irony.

Goodman’s use of anaphora is calculated to make her tone obvious to her audience. When she repeatedly says, “the obituary didn’t mention that” it becomes clear that she is implying that he indeed worked himself to death, there was no other cause. Goodman wants the reader to recognize her use of sarcasm when she also repeatedly says “of course” as to contradict her prior statement. The author’s use of anaphora develops the reader’s knowledge of her tone and claim. Goodman’s use of rhetorical devices makes her writing more appealing for example, her use of pathos.

The author’s use of pathos makes the passage more relatable and appealing to her audience. She subtly includes references that lead the audience to support her bitter tone. In paragraph 7, she gives a kind description of Phil’s wife; one of the people he left behind as a result of being a “workaholic”. She inserts a second use of pathos in paragraphs 10 and 11 when she briefly mentions his children. This is emotionally appealing because it allows the audience to recognize how his loved-ones were affected.

Irony is often used to add sarcastic undertone and to help the reader make connections that he or she normally would not. Goodman’s masterful use of irony makes it an understandable read. The last paragraph, the last line, is Phil’s boss asking “who has been working the hardest?” which is almost so ironic that it’s angering. It is obvious that Phil was the hardest worker because he ended up working himself to death; yet, his boss was quick to replace him. Irony is persuasive because it encourages the reader to lean towards the writer’s bitter point of view.

Through Goodman’s careful use of anaphora, pathos, and irony she makes her rhetoric extremely effective. Goodman grabs the reader’s attention and holds it throughout the passage by making it an easy and relatable read. It is common belief that hard work is important and you should strive for it. “The Company Man” portrays that sometimes you should take a step back, for your own good.

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