In Joan Dunayer’s article, “Here’s to Your Health,” Dunayer informs the audience about the “nonstop” advertising of alcohol as well as the myths they have conceived throughout American society. Dunayer makes use of rhetoric elements such as pathos in order to argue against the harmful misconceptions about alcohol such as professional success, social success, and sexual appeal. Her effective use of pathos along with other rhetoric elements such as anecdote, imagery, characterization, and diction heighten the appeal that pathos already has on the readers.
Dunayer uses pathos in order to capture the attention of her readers. From the beginning of Dunayer’s article, the use of an anecdote is prominent. She explains a freshman’s experience on a varsity team bus, amongst his much older teammates (1). This instantly triggers a feeling of unease in the reader. Not to mention, the age gap between the characteristic of the more innocent freshman, and his elder, more experienced counterpart creates a tense atmosphere within the cramped space of the vehicle. A tequila bottle is offered to him by his veteran team members. Afraid of being seen as “a sissy” he “felt he had to accept”(1). At this point, readers can sympathize with the young boy. Most people have, at one point, felt obliged to give in to popular opinion and/or peer pressure for fear that there would be repercussions laid onto them by society. This narrative is no different. Joan emotionally appeals to that specific instance in order for us to understand and relate to the thoughts and actions of the boy.
Additionally, the author further increases the effectiveness of her use of pathos by way of diction. When describing the manner in which the freshman handles drinking the alcoholic beverage, the author uses “swallows” instead of word choices such as down, swig or ‘chug’(Dunayer 1). These words are commonly used to describe drinking any alcoholic drink in a laid-back or celebratory setting. However, this is anything but a ‘celebratory’ instance for the freshman whose experience ends in misfortune. The word “swallow” conveys a feeling of a strenuous and unsure effort to drink when used in the article’s context which appeal to the emotions of the readers. Furthermore, when describing how common alcohol advertisements are in mass media, Dunayer states, “ads appear with pounding frequency”(1). Many people can most identify “pounding” with a headache. Tieing the rates of alcoholic ads on TV and the unpleasant feeling of a headache makes readers feel negative towards alcoholic ads in the media. Joan “associates positive emotions towards her argument while associating negative emotions to her counter” helping her arguments and claim to be accepted and adopted by her audience (Dlugan 1). The feeling of pressure persistently being on the head and no way to avoid it. With many frequent alcohol ads on TV, radio, internet, or billboards, one can compare the persistence of such ads, along with their false myths, to that of an annoying seemingly endless headache.
Finally, Joan uses pathos to help us realize the societal norms we have become accustomed to. The author argues that “parents give children the impression that alcohol is an essential ingredient for social gatherings”(1). Many have gone to a party where alcohol is amongst the many beverages available. Dunayer exposes this point making readers question what we have been taught both directly or indirectly by our families. Although plenty of individuals have been taught by parents to avoid having large amounts of alcoholic drinks or avoid them at all, we can see a contradiction between words and actions amongst our families. Suddenly readers feel a sense of deception on the part of those we are intimate with and a sense of wrongness for being blind to the issue. Joan also makes the claim that alcohol is not the answer to increasing sexual appeal. Many want to become more attractive to gain recognition and have a sense of satisfaction and pride in our physical appearance. The author knows that many people want the easy way out and want to do the bare minimum. She uses the example of a college outing in which the girl does not notice a guy until he “opens the chest and takes out a beer… she smiles over at him”(2). Joan goes on to state that beer causes “infertility in women and impotence in men”(2). This phrase strikes concern onto her audience. Being infertile or impotent is negatively received by young adults trying to have children. This creates uncertainty in people using alcohol to appear more attractive.
Dunayer argues onto why alcohol advertisement is harmful to society. Her effective use of pathos helps drill her argument into our heads. Dunayer makes sure to not only use pathos in one way throughout the entirety of her article. She strengthens the power of pathos by appealing to her audience byways of a relatable anecdote, imagery, characterization, and diction in order to further create a stronger emotion effect and response within the reader.