One very effective way of persuading an audience comes from when you appeal to their emotions. Pathos stirs up the emotions in people. Karl Zinsmeister effectively stirs people’s emotions, feelings, and opinions on divorce and the negative effects on children in his article, “Divorce’s Toll on Children”. He “argues that divorce causes damage from which children never recover and that the conflict within a marriage will not cause the same amount of problems for children that the breakup of a marriage creates”. Zinsmeister effectively reaches the emotions of people by concrete examples or fact, word choice, and appealing to the emotion of fear in the readers.
His first appeal to readers is the facts, statistics, and examples. He begins stating that “since 1972, more than a million youngsters have been invoked in a divorce each year” (par.1) and that “around half of today’s children will go through a marital rupture” (par.2). These facts are blunt and overwhelming. Those reading this article will automatically recognize the enormity of divorce and how many children are affected. Zinsmeister then adds that “overall, only about one youngster in five is able to maintain a close relationship with both parents” (par.3). Facts, whether they are correct, have the power to be mind-blowing. So is the case with these facts. Readers are hit with how many children are truly affected in the world by divorce and begin understanding why Zinsmeister “argues that divorce causes damage”. Long-term studies show that “two-thirds of all the children showed symptoms of stress, and half thought their life had been destroyed by the divorce. Five years down the road, over a third were still seriously disturbed, and another third were having psychological difficulties” (par.21). These facts bring fear into the hearts of those that are reading this article. They may have recognized that children are affected by divorce, but these facts reinstate their concerns. Zinsmeister uses these facts to persuade people to believe that divorce negatively affects children.
Another successful tactic Zinsmeister uses is his word choice. Words contain much weight and portray various meanings. One must choose their words very carefully in order to persuade the audience in their favor. Karl’s argument statement uses the phrase “children will never recover”. The word “never” creates a negative connotation and makes readers feel hopeless and fearful. They believe anybody with children who files for divorce has sentenced their child to a life of misery. Does divorce have an effect on children? Many studies have proven that there are many effects. Will children never recover? This statement is quite bold, especially because all children react differently in situations. Nevertheless, people will believe him when he says that they will never recover. Another word he uses frequently is “youngsters”. This word creates an innocent impression on children, and allows readers to assume that children cannot overcome divorce due to their naivety. It adds to his argument that divorce creates damage on children which they will never get over. Readers then begin to believe and support her argument.
Finally, Zinsmeister effectively appeals to the emotion of fear. The people who read his article already are concerned or are looking for a reason to believe that divorce has a negative effect on children. By the facts and examples he uses, plus her word choice, the readers become scared of divorce and think negatively towards anybody who has done that to their children. Therefore, Zinsmeister stirs up the emotions of people, enhancing his argument with pathos and speaking to people’s feelings.
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