Writers of feature articles may be asked why they write about such pressing issues. Felicity Arbuthnot, the writer of “Dying of shame” in the Jan/Feb 98 edition of the New Nationalist, may answer with the response that she feels, as a writer the responsibility of bringing these issues to the attention of a world wide audience. If so, she succeed. Her above mentioned article explores the disturbing issue of the atrocious treatment of the children of Iraq. Treatment evident since the UN imposed an embargo on their ports. By writing a feature article using certain techniques including; graphics, title, figurative language, selection of words and inclusion of her own personal experiences, Arbuthnot is able to arouse emotions within the reader about this dismaying issue.
Arbuthnots primary call to her readers inner morals is through the use of graphics. Graphics are the initial observation of a reader, therefore Arbuthnots intention is to touch a person in the hope that they will become interested enough to read the article at hand. The main graphic, a large photo in the top right hand corner of the double page spread becomes a focus for the readers first acknowledgement of the article. The photographs setting suggests a bare and lonely place and the sharp focus signifies the disconnection between a mother and her dying child. The photos caption ” Sugar baby – a mother and child near Baghdad’s Saddam Hussein hospital” is a direct ploy at creating sympathy towards the mothers and particularly the children of Iraq. The second graphic used is a smaller photograph positioned in the lower left corner of the double page spread.
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Its positioning and size are symbolic for the way in which the world, particularly the enemy country – America is treating the people within, as small and insignificant. The photos caption reads “Looking up in hope – but there are no birthday partie any more”, which is a direct appeal to the readers emotions, who would in most cases understand the emotional joy and importance of Birthdays for children and therefore be emotionally saddened by this image. The setting of the photograph in a hospital creates a hieghtened awareness of the isolation of Iraq and the deliberate high camera angle lends to the idea of the Iraqi peoples submissiveness and vulnerability. The title is another technique which Arbuthnot employs to provoke certain emotions within the reader.
The title “Dying of shame”, being a metaphor, challenges the thoughts and values of the reader as their first reaction towards it may differ after reading the article. Most peoples first impression of the title would be to assume that the Iraqi people are the ones who are dying of shame. After reading the article however and understanding its contextual meaning it can actually be concluded that the readers are actually the ones who will eventuate in a shameful death because of their lack of support to Iraqi situation. This thought within oneself conjures emotions of sympathy, pity and regret towards the situation and the children of Iraq – which is the main aim of Arbuthnot.
The position and formation of the title being centred and faded, reflects the idea of death and emphasises the link between the two bolded words – “Dying” and “shame”, two words most would wish not to be associated with one another and applied to themselves. Language is an essential technique that writers use to appeal to certain readers emotions. In “Dying of shame”, Felicity Arbuthnot mainly uses metaphors to create a deeper sense of understanding and compassion towards the treatment of children in Iraq. Specific examples include Arbuthnots appeal to peoples values when she expresses that “The embargo has meant the death of childhood” – an obvious impossibility, but an insinuation that the embargo has caused an end to typical childlike things. The emotional impact of this metaphor therefore creates for the audience a sense of sadness because of the sacredness most people feel towards childhood. Another establishment of this idea is created by the metaphor within the last two paragraphs that describes a childs trauma created from dropping an egg symbolic of the lives of the Iraqi people.
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This ultimately shows the way in which children in Iraq are living within a shattered country they dont deserve. It is emphasised that the people dont deserve this because of the compassion shown by the store owner, who gives the child another egg, showing the compassion that exists within a supposedly bad country. Again this metaphor conjures emotions of regret and compassion towards the children and people of Iraq. Arbuthnot uses a selection of words to directly appeal to the readers emotions. These words included mostly descriptive words of the children being; little, small, tiny, in pain, chronically malnourished and suffering. All these words have negative connotations and affect the audience on a deeper level.
The image created is so pitiful that it makes the reader feel emotionally sickened by the traumatic affects on the children caused by the embargo. With the use of such descriptive words, together with the explanation of the situations the readers emotions can even turn to anger because of the revelation behind the ridiculous lengths in which the embargo is carried forth. Arbuthnots personal involvement and experience within Iraq allows the reader a greater understanding of the issue and lends a more emotionally attached case for Arbuthnot to create. In the second paragraph Arbuthnot expresses that “To witness the effect of the United Nations embargo is to live with images that haunt.” By the use of such a first hand account of the issue, the reader has a heightened sense of trust for what they are being told. Its emotional impact is greater also because it produces a connection for the reader with the a highly sensitive and emotional plee by Arbuthnot.
A plee to help put an end to the undeserving trauma of children within Iraq. Its a very profound concept that a writer may write a piece of text in which can develop so much thought and provoke so much within peoples inner emotions. Arbuthnot is an exceptional advocate of this and shows that through certain techniques including graphics, title, figurative language, selection of words and inclusion of her own personal experiences, she is able to embody a broad issue and allow the reader to absorb the immense sadness towards such a characterised innocent population. It can be convincingly shown that writers use manipulation in developing the readers emotional stance and persuading them to agree with theirs.
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