My Mother Never Worked Rhetorical Devices

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 727 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 19, 2024

Words: 727|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 19, 2024

My Mother Never Worked: An Exploration of Rhetorical Devices

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

Imagine a world where the labor of a mother is not considered work. Where her sacrifices, her endless toil, and her unwavering commitment to her family are dismissed as mere hobbies or insignificant chores. This is the reality that Tillie Olsen brings to light in her poignant essay, "My Mother Never Worked." Through the use of rhetorical devices, Olsen masterfully conveys the value and significance of a mother's labor, challenging societal norms and urging us to reconsider our perceptions. In this essay, we will delve into the rhetorical devices employed by Olsen, uncovering their purpose and impact, and gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of her message.

One of the most powerful rhetorical devices that Olsen employs is the use of personal anecdotes. She begins her essay by recounting her own experiences with her mother, sharing intimate moments that reveal the depth of her mother's labor. These anecdotes serve to humanize the subject matter, allowing the reader to empathize with Olsen and her mother. By sharing her personal story, Olsen invites the reader into her world, making the essay relatable and accessible. This rhetorical choice is crucial in engaging a broad audience, as it bridges the gap between the academic and the personal, drawing the reader in with emotional resonance.

In addition to personal anecdotes, Olsen also utilizes vivid imagery to convey the physical and emotional toll of a mother's labor. She describes her mother's hands as "red and swollen," worn down by years of hard work. This imagery not only illustrates the physical hardships her mother endured but also serves as a metaphor for the invisible labor performed by countless mothers. Through vivid descriptions, Olsen paints a detailed picture of a mother's labor, allowing the reader to visualize and understand the magnitude of her contributions. This use of imagery creates a lasting impact, leaving the reader with a deeper appreciation for the often overlooked work of mothers.

Another rhetorical device employed by Olsen is the use of rhetorical questions. Throughout the essay, she poses thought-provoking questions that force the reader to confront their own biases and assumptions. For example, she asks, "Is a homemaker a worker? Does she work?" These questions challenge the reader to critically examine their definition of work and the value they assign to different types of labor. By raising these questions, Olsen prompts the reader to reconsider societal norms and to recognize the inherent worth of a mother's labor. This use of rhetorical questions adds a layer of intellectual curiosity to the essay, inviting the reader to delve deeper into the subject matter.

Olsen also employs the rhetorical device of repetition to emphasize the central theme of her essay. She repeats the phrase "my mother never worked" throughout the piece, driving home the injustice and absurdity of this statement. This repetition serves to create a sense of rhythm and urgency, capturing the reader's attention and reinforcing the message that a mother's labor should be recognized and valued. By repeating this phrase, Olsen highlights the rhetorical power of simple yet profound statements, leaving a lasting impact on the reader's mind.

Lastly, Olsen employs the rhetorical device of ethos by drawing upon her own credibility and authority as a writer and a daughter. She establishes her credentials by sharing details about her own writing background, referencing her previous works and the acclaim they received. This establishes her as a trustworthy source, lending credibility to her arguments and making her essay more persuasive. By grounding her arguments in her personal experiences, Olsen further strengthens her ethos, reinforcing her position as a reliable and knowledgeable narrator.

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In conclusion, Tillie Olsen's essay, "My Mother Never Worked," employs a variety of rhetorical devices to convey the value and significance of a mother's labor. Through personal anecdotes, vivid imagery, rhetorical questions, repetition, and ethos, Olsen captivates the reader's attention and challenges societal norms. Her use of these rhetorical devices not only makes complex ideas approachable but also inspires the reader to reevaluate their perceptions and appreciate the often overlooked work of mothers. As we reflect on Olsen's essay, let us remember the words of anthropologist Margaret Mead, who said, "Everyone needs to have access both to grandparents and grandchildren in order to be a full human being." By recognizing and valuing the labor of mothers, we can create a society that honors the invaluable contributions they make.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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My Mother Never Worked Rhetorical Devices. (2024, March 19). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from
“My Mother Never Worked Rhetorical Devices.” GradesFixer, 19 Mar. 2024,
My Mother Never Worked Rhetorical Devices. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jun. 2024].
My Mother Never Worked Rhetorical Devices [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 19 [cited 2024 Jun 20]. Available from:
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