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Rhetorical Analysis of a Summer Life by Gary Soto

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Gary Soto in the autobiography, “A Summer Life”, describes a time when he stole the pie he goes onto explain the emotions he felt after he did something wrong. Soto supports his claim by recognizing imagery, repetition, and biblical allusions. The author’s purpose is to demonstrate the emotions a person goes through when they do something wrong, so that people will not do the wrong thing. The author writes in a very guilty tone for people who are thinking of doing wrong or making bad decisions.

In this story, Soto uses a great amount of imagery to try and justify his reason for stealing the pie as a kid, he describes his feelings through the imagery so you can have a strong understanding of the authors mind. Soto says that “With the kitchen stifling with the heat and lunatic flies, I decided to crawl underneath our house and lie in the cool shadows listening to the howling sounds of plumbing”. He uses the flies to resemble a sort of hell, because he had the guilty feeling from stealing the pie and even when he tries to escape that feeling the “flies” were in the image to represent a place for sin is present in the author’s mind. Hell is a very threatening place, where sinners and non-believers end up, so in a kids mind this takes a very overpowering effect on the feeling of forgiveness. When the pressure from the feeling of “hell” wasn’t relieved he tried crawling under the house to see if he could try and get rid of his guilty conscience. While Soto is under the house he goes onto say “I lay until I was cold and then crawled back to the light, rising from one knee, then another, to dust off my pants and squint in the harsh light”. He shows his “rebirth” from sin, it shows him coming back with his sin gone. His imagery resembles forgiveness for his sin and how it was taken away from him, it finally gives Soto a sense of relief from all the guilt he was facing after stealing the pie. His emotions are expressed through so many rhetorical devices and it gives his story a better insight for his readers, this is done by placing imagery everywhere along with repetition.

For this reason many phrases are repeatedly written to emphasize sin and how much guilt he was feeling after he decided to steal the pie. The use of repetition was used in places where Soto was trying to express the emotions he was going through It puts emphasis on his foolish acts and thoughts. In the story there are so many references to sin and religion, dealing with sin Soto says “your hands are dirty”, this is symbolizing a reminder of sin and that his hands are still dirty with sin and that Johnny recognizes it. He goes on to say “I was holy in almost every bone” he uses religion to show that he is still worthy and holy even though he did commit a sin. Soto uses this rhetorical device to express feelings multiple times in many statements in order to better understand the tone of the story. The utilization of the strict word usage express the information Soto had on the God and sin. By making use of words like ‘hell’, ‘shadows of angles’ and ‘bad deeds’ these words gives the strict viewpoint to the story. By realizing that taking is a crime Soto still took the pie, the temptation of the pie was greater than the person he was. He was trying to justify his sin but now that he is older he recognizes it, so he brings in these repetitive statements to draw his audience in. Not only do we see Soto trying to express his emotions through imagery and repetition but we tend to see it through some biblical allusions as well.

For example, in the text Soto attempts to legitimize his actions by referencing to biblical allusions throughout the text. Gary Soto uses the allusion “shadow of angel” to resemble a feeling of guilt that surrounds Soto. With this we see how Soto carries a heavy weight on his shoulders from stealing the pie and not sharing it, he feels a sense of evil that he was granted due to his weak temptations. He also refers to “Adam and Eve” because he views his situation similar to the story of Adam and Eve. In the story of Adam and Eve, they ate the fruit even after they were told to not do so. Instead he takes the pi and eats it knowing it was wrong, just like in “The Pie”. He utilizes and refers the word “sin” so much through the entire story, and just like in the Bible sin is mentioned very much and is a very important in both. Sin constantly runs through the writer’s head and plays a big role in his ending feelings. Sin is such a big deal in this because people don’t want to sin in order to get into heaven, that’s why he emphasizes the importance of the reader knowing how he felt. Soto delivers a good story, by using these rhetorical devices that help the audience become intrigued.

The author, Gary Soto properly uses many rhetorical devices that help recreate his feelings and what he viewed during the time. The last diagram of this story truly helped the creator get what he was feeling out by conveying everything that needs to be conveyed through imagery, repetition, and biblical allusion. By doing this he had the option to give the audience all that they expected to place themselves from his point of view. He utilized devices effectively and appropriately and it benefited the crowd by giving a legitimate look on his feelings.

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Rhetorical Analysis Of A Summer Life By Gary Soto. (2020, October 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 2, 2023, from
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