Thesis: Authors use rhetorical devices to demonstrate the impact that society plays on the personal development of an individual. The main character in Hurston’s novel, Janie Crawford, Janie’s hair is a symbol that portrays her individuality and resistance to the stereotypes that are intertwined in her society. As Janie begins to settle into her home in Eatonville, she is soon confronted by her husband, Jody, and the townspeople’s antithetical views about her proper role in society. In response to the constant critiques Janie receives for wearing her hair down, Jody demands that she begin to wear a head rag.
After the next twenty monotonous years of Janie’s life, she begins to finally find her inner voice that had been suppressed by Jody’s social power. Eventually Jody falls ill, and Janie verbally attacks him for being too controlling during all their years together. After Jody’s death, Janie becomes rejuvenated with independence and a new self-confidence. Hurston writes, “Before she slept that night she burnt up every one of her head rags and went about the house next morning with her hair in one thick braid swinging well below her waist.
That was the only change people saw in her”(Hurston, pg 89). This act demonstrates Janie’s resistance to the cultural expectations and strict gender role that her husband expected. Her hair had been tied up for the years of her marriage, just as she was tied to the expectations of her husband and societal constraint with which she had been burdened for so many years. The burning of the head rags marks an important turning point in the development of her character. Her defiance is a symbol of her newfound strength.
Janie demonstrates through the seemingly simple act of letting her hair down that she will not be held back from her desires and happiness that have laid dormant in the past. Hurston uses this act to symbolize not only Janie’s personal growth, but to also reflect her strong and rebellious will to overcome all stereotypes that black women face during the early 1900’s. Janie becomes a symbol of all black women who have resisted and fought against the oppressive gender and racial expectations, and contributed to the eventual change in social norms.
The search for redemption is a crucial recurring theme that Khaled Hosseini uses to shape the character of Amir, the protagonist who spends his youth in Afghanistan and who moves as a young man to California. Amir’s father, Baba, sees the cowardice that Amir possesses and the constant need he has for his father’s approval. As the story progresses, Amir witnesses an act of evil in the aftermath of the kite running festival. He sees Hassan, his only friend, being raped by Assef, the town bully. Overwhelmed with horror and fear, Amir flees the scene, leaving his faithful friend behind.
As a young boy, he seeks redemption for having abandoned his friend by seeking out physical pain as punishment. Amir narrates, “I hit him with another pomegranate, in the shoulder this time… ‘Hit me back, goddamn you! I wished he would. I wished he’d give me the punishment I craved, so maybe I’d finally sleep at night. Maybe then things could return to how they used to be between us”(Hosseini, pg 92). Amir longs for forgiveness and to share the bond they once had. This incident serves as a lesson to Amir that redemption requires much more than encouraging Hassan to throw a pomegranate at his chest.
While Hassan is a loyal friend, who might have recognized Amir’s attempt at redemption, Hassan refuses to participate. This failure at redemption leads to Amir distancing himself from Hassan, and the two continue to grow farther apart. The theme of redemption re-appears when Amir receives a phone call from his old friend, Rahim Khan. As Rahim finishes his conversation with Amir, he says, “Come. There is a way to be good again” (Hosseini, pg ). Without the prodding from Rahim, Amir may have never overcome the regret of his cowardly mistake.
Even though he has grown and matured into adulthood, he realizes that his past is still a heavy burden. It is not until Amir returns to Afghanistan that he succeeds in finally securing atonement. After hearing the news of Hassan’s death and the fate of his son, Sohrab, Amir confronts Assef and they fight over Sohrab. Following the fight, Amir narrates, “My body was broken —just how badly I wouldn’t find out until later—but I felt healed. Healed at last. I laughed” (Hosseini, pg 289). The word “healed” describes how he is relieved from the guilt that had consumed him for so long.
In addition, Amir has proven to himself that he is not the coward his father had once seen in him. Hosseini uses Amir’s relationships with the three pivotable characters, Baba, Hassan, and Rahim Khan, to illustrate how his search for redemption fails until Amir is able to act independently. Through the use of inductive logic, Malcolm Gladwell strengthens his claim that the success of famous computer scientist Bill Joy can be attributed not only to his intellect, but to the factors in society that contribute to his achievements.
Gladwell argues that not only does it take approximately ten-thousand hours to master a talent, but that there are crucial factors that he refers to as “luck” which contribute to Joy’s success. Gladwell suggests that luck derives from societal opportunities that arise in one’s life. To convince the audience, Gladwell provides a series of examples from Bill Joy’s life that provide a logical explanation for how Joy’s success derived from more than just intellect and to support the importance that circumstance plays on the growth of an individual.