Linguistic Analysis: Essay One [ungraded, 2000/2001]


Chris Larham’s linguistic analysis of an excerpt from John Pilger’s Heroes [ungraded, 2000/2001] can be opened in a print-friendly text document format here
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Identify and explain features of language which Pilger uses to convey:
a.) the attitudes of some White Americans towards the Indians
b.) his own attitudes towards the Indians

{Essay CONTENTS: Disdainful tone; Irony; Typical American perspective; Mockery; Humiliating mood; Stereotypical suggestions; Repetition; Jump to essay part b.).}
a.) The tone of the piece relates the feelings of some White Americans towards the Indians; a general lack of respect is apparent early on, reflected through the absence of serious thought for the Indians.  Through the re-telling of the ‘Colonel Kit Carson’ tale, Pilger puts across the idea that Indians are second-class citizens – that they deserve to feel ‘ignominy’ and terrible living conditions: this was the army officer’s view, obviously.  Throughout history there has been disdain for the Indians.[^]

Using the irony of the Indians being mythologized- and subsequently forgetten- Pilger demonstrates the ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude of the Western world.  The implication is that the Indians make great stories, but that’s all they’re fit for.[^]

The compère on a national television programme pokes fun at the history and present day predicament of the native Americans, “we have a gen-u-ine Indian princess…”; using them (as happened throughout history) – this time to capture the audience’s attention.  Through citing the example of a typical American perspective (coupled with the subsequent cut to a ‘commercial’ – implying that their problems aren’t worth discussing, let alone broadcasting), Pilger conveys the attitudes held by the general population.[^]

The mockery of the modern day ‘Hiawatha’, highlighted by use of exclamation and quotation marks, reflects the attitudes and opinions of the compère, “Let’s hear it now for Miss American Indian of 1968!”  The values of the Indian are purely commercial.[^]

A mood of put-down humour, and a sense of carelessness, couple together to effect the humiliation of the Indian queen.[^]

An idea that “they’re violent” suggests that their problems could be resolved if they would just do some work – a typical view from a PR man.  There are suggestions throughout the text that ‘it’s not our problem’ or ‘our fault’…[^]

Repetition of these views reinforce the point: they control their own destiny.[^]

{Part b.) CONTENTS: Detailed descriptions; Serious tone & empathy; Pilger’s perspective; Respectful similes; Sentence structure; Quote selection – wider Indian perspective; Hopeful mood.}[^]
b.) Pilger puts across his own attitudes, of a ‘pro-Indian’ nature, by describing the Indians in great detail; it’s as though he is in awe of them.[^]

The tone is quite serious- and very descriptive- from Pilger, in relating the way the Indians see the world, “a silent and beautiful land without cities or trees or shopping malls…”  He empathizes with their outlook on life, and the idealistic, primitive world they inhabit.[^]

‘A commercial followed quickly’ shows- from his perspective– the inability of other cultures (Western) to take them seriously, or be committed to helping them through times of need.[^]

Similes abound in his portrayal of the Indians, “a beautiful old woman, like a slender oak”, for example.  “Mr Hanley knew his people like an ant knows the earth…”, demonstrates the respect he holds for their collectivism.[^]

Sentences are long and flowing, elaborating on various points to paint a truer, brighter picture of the tribe.[^]

There is a sense of pity, sympathy, with his inclusion of the quote, “Yes, I truly am the white man’s clown, but there is no other way.  We are only beginning.  We do not have the Negroes’ numbers”; there are echoes of the kind of inspirational, motivating speech that Martin Luther King would have come up with: us Vs. them, but we will survive and get through it.  Through the use of various Indian perspectives, Pilger shows their side of the story, and his own views too.[^]

The mood which comes across through Pilger’s retelling of events is one of hope and admiration: “the remarkable Mr Max H.Stanley, Snr…also raised money to send young people to ‘college’, a choice available to very few Navajo”; one man fighting all odds: it’s an emotive image.[^]

Copyright 2016-present day Permission to use quotations from this English essay is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to Chris Larham and as authorial and website sources, respectively.
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Forty-year-old father of three wonderful children [William, Seth, and Alyssa]. Works as an Assistant Technical Officer in the Sterile Services Department of Treliske Hospital, Cornwall. Enjoys jogging, web design, learning programming languages, and supporting Arsenal FC. Obtained a BA degree in English from the University of Bolton in 2008, and has continued to gain qualifications in a diverse range of subjects thereafter.

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Posted in AS Level English [A1]

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