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Transcript of Shooting Dad
Vowell begins this piece explaining her childhood and takes the reader up to her current age (when this was written). Throughout she is describing how different she believes she is from her father. This is her main point until she realizes that she probably should start to mend her relationship with him before it's too late and she doesn't have the chance. At this point she realizes that they are not as different as she had thought.
The audience Vowell is trying to reach is a group of people who may be more educated and possibly liberal, as they would be hearing it through the NPR. They would be people who may be more for gun protection laws and not be able to see the other sides point of view.
The reason Vowell wrote this is to try and get her audience to become a little more open minded to an opposing side. Whatever the issue may be, both sides will most likely only see the situation as either black or white. I believe this piece is showing people there can be a middle ground.
The tone of this passage is humorous. Vowell's topic is fairly serious but she uses many rhetorical devices to make her piece funny so that it becomes more of an easy read, and not something you would walk away from.
Sarah Vowell was born in 1969 in Oklahoma and grew up there until her family moved to Montana. She has written numerous essays and radio pieces like this one, which was first presented on
This American Life
. She also voiced the character Violet in
Vowell uses mostly simple sentences because it was written for the radio where you wouldn't want anything too complicated to read or comprehend.
But on the other hand she uses a few very complicated sentences to keep the listener engaged.
This may be especially relevant now as there have been tragedies such as the Sandy Hook shooting that have people wanting more gun laws, these people would be the ones really wanting to read this.
While Vowell never liked the guns her father worked on, she realized could endorse his cannon project because of its historical background. She managed to find that compromise.
"Oh. My. God."
"My dad is a one-man garage band, the kind of rock'n'roller who slaves away at his art for no other reason than to make his own sound."
The whole beginning of the piece is littered with metaphors that are eluding to the same thing. Vowell believes her home is a war zone.
"You could have looked at the Democratic campaign poster in the upstairs window and the Republican one in the downstairs window and seen our home for the civil war battleground it was."
"While the kitchen and the living room were well within the DMZ, the respective work spaces governed by my father and me were jealously guarded totalitarian states in which each of us declared ourselves dictator."
"Our house was partitioned off into territories."
Vowell uses hyperbole primarily to make her piece humorous. Without the exaggeration it just wouldn't come off as funny. Also the hyperbole shows the reader just how immature Vowell was being about her stance on her fathers guns.
"The sound it made was as big as God."
Vowell uses this primarily when she is discussing the guns.
"It kicked little me back to the ground like a bully, like a foe."
"He believed that if I had my way, all the guns would be confiscated and it would take the commies about fifteen minutes to parachute down and take control."
This is important as she uses it to both peak the readers interest and provide a good source of ethos.
"... after the 1984 Democratic National Convention. I was so excited when Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate."
“… my parent’s house, located on a quiet residential street in Bozeman, Montana, the United States of Firearms. Guns were everywhere: the so-called pretty ones like the circa 1850 walnut muzzleloader hanging on the wall, Dad’s clients fixer-uppers learning into corners, an entire rack next to the TV.”
All in all, Vowell did a very good job of using rhetorical devices to try to show her readers that no issue has only two sides, when in a disagreement there can always be a compromise.
“So the cannon is not just another gun to my dad. It’s a map of all his obsessions.”