Rhetorical Devices Used in Emperor of Umbrellas

The book Orange County is an American book authored by Kristen Leigh Schwarz. It comprises of several readings and short stories. This rhetorical, argumentative essay is going to touch a reading titled Emperor of Umbrellas. It is based on the lives of four people, the narrator who is the first person, Jose, Rick, and Charlie. They all who spend their day to day lives working in a print shop. The writing of the book has employed different rhetoric devices in its narrative. Mulken (115) asserts that rhetorical devices help in making detailed articles attract the reader’s attention. This paper is going to touch on different rhetorical devices employed in the book’s reading entitled Emperor of Umbrellas.

The author has been able to employ good use of paradox in the preface. In the reading’s introduction just before the story begins, Schwarz is describing California as” a new old world “ to symbolize the fact that immigrants are slowly taking over Los Angeles and giving the old city a newer look (229). By employing this paradox, especially in the introductory stages of this writing, the author has been able to capture the readers’ curiosity about the book. It also gives the book’s setting an interesting factor in the reader’s mind.

Use of imagery in this reading is evident on many occasions throughout the book.  Imaging plays the most significant role in highlighting other devices used in literature works today. A paragraph starts by using descriptive language about the sun rising in the Horizon of the Californian desert. Schwarz describes it as “Two blocks away, the amber western sun poked out from behind the water tower” (229). The use of descriptive language gives the reader mental images of a rising sun, in the process putting himself on the same point with the narrator.

Another point where the reading has employed imagery is when the author seems to be explaining a kind of apocalyptic situation where he believes the water tower will come under attack from outside invaders looking to steal the water. He then uses descriptive imagery of how they, as the locals will put up a fight to guard the water tower. He says “we’ll roll up in trash trucks and dusty Cadillacs and cycle the base of the tower like a wagon train in the laser of the undead sun…” Schwarz (230). Through this explanation, we get a vivid image of this and in turn, get to see how valuable the water tower is to the narrator. The way he describes the water tower also carries with it the notions of imagery. “I was familiar with this water tower, a hoisted white hut” Schwarz (230), gives the reader a clue that the water tower is white. The hoisted part also brings about the tower structure in readers’ minds, hence actively connecting the readers to this reading.

This reading has employed the use of juxtaposition in many parts. The author talks about the power of spotlighting and the power of backlighting when discussing dimensional aspects related to the tower. The control of backlighting is the power of hope. “The power of spotlighting is the power of truth” Schwarz (229). The juxtaposition is evident here as he goes ahead to say that backlighting symbolizes the water tower concerning hope, whereas spotlighting the tower symbolizes the truth about the tower’s importance.

Symbolism is articulated in the writing of this reading.  “…California was turning into beef jerky, so if that tower did hold water, it’d be worth more than gold, more than lives someday…” Schwarz (230). The gold has been used to symbolize the tower’s worth to the residents of Los Angeles. Also, the human lives in the sentence have also been used to put more emphasis on the water tower’s value.

Figurative language in this reading is evident in many sections. For instance, “…my laugh jumped a hundred feet away from me…” Schwarz (233). The context surrounding this phrase was due to the quick change of mood when he realized that not everything was alright. Another segment where figurative language is deployed to describe the blazing sun heat that was beating them while at work, “…at 5:30 pm, the sun still raking the world…” Schwarz (230). The use of the word ‘raking’ gives a good notion of the glaring evening desert sun.

This reading has also employed the use of formality and informality devices in its writing. There are many instances where the author uses simple words to be more inclusive of how he addresses the readers. American slangs are mainly used in the dialogues and conversations between the reading’s characters. The author uses American English slang ‘Shiiit’ in choreographing a dialogue between the narrator and Jose Schwarz (231). Also, there is the use of abusive slangs in Jose’s conversation. He says “…tell Charlie if it rains tomorrow, then we will be fucking prepared” Schwarz (234).

Another rhetorical device evident in this reading is the use of personification to give detail information about the situations of the narrator and his colleagues. He says “…we were hyenas on the gravel” Schwarz (230), to imply how they had been caught flat-footed after Charlie reminding them the task that Rickie had handed to them to mend the room.

Hyperbole is another rhetorical device found in this reading. The various scenarios where the narrator talked up the future situations that may surround the water tower after the desert has expanded and rendered all the other areas to be desert, has employed the use of hyperbole. The method of hyperbole has helped in exaggerating the narrator’s notion of protecting the tower. There is the use of hyperbole when the narrator talks about how intense they will fight to protect the water tower since it will be the last remaining source of water.

Connotations have also been used to impact the emotional feelings of readers. According to Schütz (501), implications are used by authors to bring about an emotional connection with the readers based on the situation he puts himself in. An example of an excerpt from the reading where the narrator employs connotations is on page three when talking up how angry they would a time get due to clients’ rants that came with the job. The narrator says “…usually if a job were hard, we would take turns spitting the nastiest shit about the client we would conjure…” Schwarz (231) It paints a vivid image of hardship associated with the narrator’s job, in turn triggering emotional feelings from the narrator’s audience which is the book’s readers.

According to Rozina (119), allusion play a significant role in any rhetoric essay.  The use of allusion is applied in the reading. In the fourth page, the narrator talks about how much they will protect the water tower from invaders and be conquerors that may come there in search of water to satisfy their thirst. For instance, “….and defend our water mad max style from the legions of thirsty…” Schwarz (236), He uses an allusion derived from the movie mad max to show how much effort they will put to protect the water tower

To conclude, I think that this reading, “Emperor of Umbrellas” has been able to articulate many rhetorical devices in its making. Using the first person maximizes the usage of various rhetorical devices such as juxtaposition. The rhetorical devices help improve the quality of the writing.



Works Cited

Schwarz, Kristen.” Emperor of Umbrellas.” Orange County.  Lisa Alvarez, Andrew Tonkovich, Gustavo Arellano. Heyday books, (2017):229-237.

Rozina, Gunta, and Indra Karapetjana. “The use of language in political rhetoric: Linguistic manipulation.” SDÜ Fen Edebiyat Fakültesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi 19 (2009): 111-122.

Schütz, Alfred. “The stranger: An essay in social psychology.” American journal of Sociology 49.6 (1944): 499-507.

Van Mulken, Margot. “Analyzing rhetorical devices in print advertisements.” Document design 4.2 (2003): 114-128.