Rhetorical Analysis Of Last Child In The Woods By Richard Louv

Last Child in the Woods Adults of today’s generation are granted the luxury of being able to reflect on fond childhood memories bursting with images of lush emerald tree forts and raindrops slipping silently down the edge of a window pane. However, as time has slipped away, humans have become distracted with placing value on products and these dear memories have gradually become mere artifacts to reminisce on.

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In the passage that is featured in the book ​Last Child in the Woods​, Richard Louv utilizes devices such as powerful anecdotes, rhetorical questions, and provoking imagery in order to effectively argue against the separation of man and nature. Louv establishes his point of man’s disengagement from nature through the addition of an effective anecdote. He powerfully recounts a friend’s story of being pushed to buy a car that included unnecessary technological elements such as backseat television monitors. This story is told using highly dramatized phrases such as, “The salesman’s jaw dropped when I said I didn’t want a backseat monitor for my daughter” (Louv), and “He almost refused to let me leave the dealership until he could understand why” (Louv). The use of this dramatic anecdote aids the reader in experiencing the utter frustration the customer must have felt given this situation. Louv strategically places this annoyance upon the reader in order to highlight the ridiculousness that is mankind’s dependence on technology. He makes it evident that mankind has become so Green 2 consumed with materialistic items such as technology, that they have lost touch with the natural world.

In addition, through the usage of rhetorical questions in the passage, Louv aims to spark thought and to shine light on the hypocrisy that man shows towards technology versus nature. He blatantly questions the nature of modern man by proposing the question, “Why do so many Americans say they want their children to watch less TV, yet continue to expand the opportunities to watch it” (Louv)? Louv then follows the previous question with a more profound tone by asking, “Why do so many people no longer consider the physical world worth watching” (Louv)? By adding these questions, Louv takes the depth of the essay a step further. Instead of simply stating his beliefs on the matter, Louv’s questions guide the audience into believing that they are formulating their own personal opinions. This method also emphasizes man’s hypocritical ways by implying that when given the choice between technology and nature, man almost always chooses technology. Lastly, Louv makes use of touching imagery that advances his claim of man’s separation from nature over time. The images that Louv paints through descriptive words are comfortingly familiar and work to evoke emotion within the reader. Describing a classic childhood memory, Louv writes, “In our useful boredom, we used our fingers to draw pictures on fogged glass as we watched telephone poles tick by” (Louv). Louv continues to further the description by stating, “We held our little plastic cars against the glass and pretended that they, too, were racing toward some unknown destination” (Louv).

This imagery brings a fond remembrance to the reader’s mind, creating an urge to preserve these memories for generations to come. Louv makes it clear Green 3 that without a change of mindset within the human race, these precious moments could soon become extinct. A sense of wistfulness is created through Louv’s imagery that ultimately brings the issue to a more personal and inspiring level. Louv’s argument is effectively brought to life through the use of personal anecdotes, thought provoking rhetorical questions, and imagery that tugs on nostalgic heartstrings. The passage gracefully proves that the growing disconnect between man and nature is impacting our generation and that the only way to solve the issue is by closing the widening gap. The future of mankind rests in the hands of the human race, and it is ultimately up to us to mend our relationship with earth and to determine our fate.

15 April 2020

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