Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in "The Company Man"
Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in “The Company Man”
In “The Company Man” by Ellen Goodman, throughout the passage Goodman illustrates her feelings of distaste and anger toward Phil, as he in her mind represents Corporate America: routine, indifferent, almost robotic. Goodman uses numerous rhetorical strategies to convey her attitude toward Phil, including tone, repetition, the use of statistics, sarcasm, anecdotes, differing syntax, and irony. From the beginning, Goodman creates a very impersonal tone, letting characters remain nameless and unimportant, identifying them primarily by their age – “Phil, fifty-one years old…Helen, forty-eight years old…”. This mirrors the corporate mindset that everyone has an expiration
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Finally, toward the end of the passage Goodman again picks up that impersonal tone, using numbers rather than names to describe people to illustrate that corporate way of thinking – the person is unimportant, it’s the age that matters, the age that implies an expiration date. “At the funeral, the sixty-year-old company president told the forty-eight-year-old widow that the fifty-one-year-old deceased had meant much to the company and would be missed and would be hard to replace. This is also ironic, as the company president says that the deceased would be missed, but Goodman clearly tries to show just how little the company would miss Phil through the lack of the use of names. Again, Goodman describes Phil’s habits and routine with a tone of bitter resentment and a syntax of short, impersonal sentences: “Phil was overweight and nervous and worked too hard. If he wasn’t at the office, he was worried about it. Phil was Type A, a heart-attack natural. You could have picked him out in a minute from a lineup.” And for the third time, Goodman repeats the time and nature of Phil’s death: “So when he finally worked himself to death, at precisely 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning, no one was really surprised.”, to show just how insignificant his death was to the company, which annoys Goodman. The irony of the last paragraph is not lost as Phil’s company already begins looking for his replacement at his own funeral. While