Rhetorical Essay: “A faceless Man’s Plea”
Chicago journalist Mike Royko once wrote a column, “A Faceless Man’s Plea,” which condemned the VA when it wouldn’t pay for a reconstructive surgery that would let a Vietnam veteran chew and swallow his food. The author intends to persuade the VA to pay for Leroy Bailey’s reconstructive surgery in order to compensate the sacrifices of the serviceman.
Royko shapes his column around the life of a man who lost his face at war. Using imagery, Royko mentions that Leroy Bailey, a serviceman from the infantry in Vietnam, lost his face tragically due to a rockets’ explosion. With a straightforward tone, Royko says that the young serviceman was condemned to an unpleasant life because he “no longer had a face.” At this point of the column, the author represents Leroy Bailey as a martyr who lost his face for another man’s cause.
Royko mentions that the young serviceman will be denied from most of the “pleasures of men,” by doing so the author implies that the serviceman will suffer from an emotional depression due to low self-esteem. Moreover, Royko touches the audience’s emotions by saying “BUT THERE IS ONE THING he would like to be able to do one day […] He would like to eat solid food.” The serviceman desires the ability to eat once again, most of us don’t value this ability because we “take it for granted.”
At the beginning of the column, Royko’s tone is solely pragmatic because he holds back his emotions. However, the column’s tone changes drastically when Royko divulges that “THE VA REFUSED REFUSED TO PAY” for the medical bills of Leroy Bailey. The columnist is enraged that the VA is not willing to assist the serviceman financially. Moreover, the serviceman believes that the VA considers his surgery “cosmetic” rather than “reconstructive,” the word “cosmetic” implies that the serviceman is performing the surgery for narcissistic reasons. However, the serviceman is performing the “reconstructive”surgery because he wants to restore the form and function of his jaw.
In the final paragraph, Royko states that Leroy Bailey will not be able to “sit down and eat at the […] table.” He demonizes the VA for not assisting Leroy Bailey with his reconstructive surgery, the organizations is supposed to aid the distress of the serviceman. Royko then states that the VA has enough money to make the San Clemente properties “prettier” but does not have enough money to pay for the reconstructive surgery of a serviceman.