Rhetorical Analysis: The Clan of One-Breasted Women

A woman’s journey in life is always met with many surprises. Author of “The Clan of One-Breasted Women,” Terry Tempest Williams, explicitly describes her personal experience of surprises. She argues that a clan of women battling breast cancer was formed because of where she lived. Williams starts strong with emotional appeals, and presenting facts from reputable sources to make ethical appeals. Her emotional appeal at the end strengthens her argument.

Williams immediately introduces her audience to the clan of one-breasted women in her opening statement. Mentioning her family history and religious roots allows her audience to feel connected to her and understand certain belief systems further in the reading. As she reminisces on her mother’s surgery and passing, memories are spoken of.  Williams gives a vivid account of the bombing that her father described which gives way to the revelation that she received at that moment. The government was responsible for this clan being formed.

Throughout her piece, Williams uses many strong sources to support her theory of the government being responsible for the rising number of cancer cases that strengthen her appeal to ethos. Newspaper articles, such as “The Day We Bombed Utah,” the “Irene Allen vs. the United States of America” lawsuit that was filed, town meetings and more are mentioned as reference points. She even uses her faith as a tool to support her belief of her theory. At one point, her faith challenges her reality which strengthens her appeal to ethos.

Adding to Williams’ strong appeal to pathos throughout her piece, she explicitly tells of a dream that she had that was very descriptive; almost as if it had taken place. Reciting the native song and dance, speaking of the town that these women walked through, how they were treated, and their response to the treatment, strengthens her appeal. Closing out her piece with the testimony of her protest, arrest and release restores the readers faith in humanity.


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