Rhetorical Analysis

"Whoever We Are, Loss Finds Us and Defines Us"


  • Written by Anna Quindlen
  • She is a columnist for the New York Times and Newsweek and a novelist
  • Published June 5, 1994, in the New York Times in New York City

Quindlen wrote this article a week after her sister-in-law died, so it's appropriate that she discusses grief and loss at this time in her life. She wrote this article for the general public, but it seems like she specifically targets others like her who have experienced loss. Quindlen's purpose for this article is to explain how we are defined by who we have lost.

Thesis: In "Whoever We Are, Loss Finds Us and Defines Us," Anna Quindlen communicates the idea that we are defined by who we have lost by utilizing personal examples and outside references.

Supporting Evidence

Throughout her essay, Quindlen uses ethos, pathos, and logos to further her claim.
  • She shared the story about her mom.
  • She uses personal experiences as evidence for her argument.
  • She uses quotes to back up her claim, such as a reference to Emily Dickenson. "An awful leisure."
  • She utilizes emotional anecdotes to help readers understand her feelings on the topic.
  • She uses emotional quotes like: "The hard part is for those of us who've kept silent for decades to start talking about our losses."
  • She explains how grief is such a strong emotion, explaining how it's stronger than faith and other strong feelings.
  • She includes detailed quotes from reputable sources to support her ideas.
  • As someone who has personally experienced grief, she is able to speak on the topic with authority.
  • She tells how she writes her family's obituaries, so she has been through this experience multiple times.

Organization and Style

The organization and style of "Whoever We Are, Loss Finds Us and Defines Us" is clear and helps Quindlen get her point across.
Sentence Structure: Quindlen uses repetition in places like "Loss as muse. Loss as character. Loss as life."
Diction: She uses metaphors, such as when she says that grief is "a whisper in the world and a clamor within."
Voice: Her voice is didactic because she is inclined towards teaching her ideas and helping people understand loss.
Tone: Even though this is a sad topic, Quindlen emphasizes the positive aspects, explaining how it contributes to a person's character.

Zeb White, Roxanna Faz, and Sadia Naz

Professor Kerr
English 1302 (7002)
5 November 2012