Zeitoun Rhetorical

David Eggers, in Zeitoun, shows a story of a Muslim American family living through many challenges. After 9/11 Muslim families, like the Zeitouns, face many problems living in America. Eggers wants to inform other Americans on the situation of Muslim living in the United States, present day. People who are uneducated about the Muslim religion need to be informed on how similar lives are of other people all around the United States. These people throw out stereotypes and aim judgments wrongly at the Zeitoun family.

Unjust treatment of the Zeitoun family is a cause of assuming and stereotypes. In this biography, Eggers helps inform his readers about Muslim Americans living in the United States and how they are treated by using the three rhetorical appeals; ethos, pathos, and logos. Eggers establishes ethos, the ethical appeal, throughout the book through his reputability, knowledge, and fairness. On the cover, the book of Zeitoun is the winner of the American book award giving his writing a positive reputation. This award shows that Eggers wrote a book worthy of an award.

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Also, in a New York Times book review, Timothy Egan states, “Fifty years from now, when people want to know what happened to this one-great city during a shameful episode of our history, they will be talking about a family named Zeitoun (qtd. in Eggers). ” This book review by Mr. Egan gives Eggers positive feedback on his work. Along with this award and book review, Eggers has written many other fiction and non-fiction titles. The book is shown from either Kathy’s or Abdulrahman’s point of view; this shows that Egger’s interview were thorough and to the point giving him a lot of knowledge on the topic.

The more points of view he gives, the better information is given in the end. He shows his fairness by not only donating proceeds of this book to the Zeitoun Foundation helping aid the rebuilding of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina but also by giving readers a chance to learn about the lives Muslim Americans. Pointing out the similarities between Americans and Muslims living in America lets undereducated people cancel out stereotypes. Eggers shows this ethical appeal well, readers know him as reputable through his ethos in Zeitoun. Pathos, the emotional appeal, shows through by Eggers word choice, examples, and objects that create emotion.

Many words can strike up a number of emotions which is important because Eggers grabs reader’s attention through how he tells the stories through the Zeitoun’s points of view. He shows the emotions of the characters, such as when Kathy is in church, “Kathy was aghast. She’d never see the collection counted during a Sunday service. And to ask for more (Eggers, 63)! ” Not only does this make the reader outraged as well, it can give the reader a connection to Kathy in the book. The exclamation point can also evoke emotion by making the statement more charged. In this biography there a many stories, one that evokes many emotions is when Zeitoun is taken to the jail like bus station, “‘Spread your legs,’ the solider said. Zeitoun did so. ‘Elbows on the table. ’ … He had no options… Zeitoun bent over. He heard the sounds of the solider pulling plastic gloves onto his hands. Zeitoun felt fingers quickly exploring his rectum. The pain was extreme but brief (qtd in Eggers, 205). ” This excerpt shows how Zeitoun was violated and gives the readers a glimpse of what he felt. He was persecuted because of his religion which is what Eggers is trying to tell his readers.

This evokes emotion in readers by using an anecdote. In the book, after the hurricane many dogs are stranded and left alone without water or food. Dogs, to humans, are an object of emotion. When Zeitoun feeds the dogs, the readers can feel relief knowing the dogs will live. When Zeitoun finds the dogs dead, the readers feel sad since the dogs, their object of emotion, are killed and mistreated. Eggers shows through this that Zeitoun is no different, and possibly better, then other Americans. There are many examples of pathos in Zeitoun because Eggers uses a lot of charged language, stories, and objects that create an emotion in the readers.

There is less of the logical appeal, logos, in Zeitoun but Eggers does present it. Using cause and effect, comparisons, and statistics, Eggers supports his argument through this logical appeal. An example of cause and effect would be the 9/11 example. Since this tragedy happen, many more stereotypes were brought upon Muslims, especially those living in America. After 9/11, Zeitoun found it more difficult to live in New Orleans. The cause was 9/11 and the effect was how the Muslim Americans were treated after the happening. Eggers also makes comparisons between the Muslim religion and the Christian view. These facts appeal to the reader’s ntelligence and could also build upon their education of each religion. When Kathy is converting, Eggers states the similarities of each religion; “At first she was simply intrigued by the basic things she didn’t know, and the many things she’d wrongly presumed. She had no idea, for instance, that the Qur’an was filled with the same people as the Bible—(Eggers, 61). ” Eggers goes on to compare Christianity to the Muslim faith, and points out that there are many different types of Muslims just like there are many types of Christians. Along with comparisons, the book has many statistics referencing to the hurricane.

An example would be, by date, the death toll when Kathy is waiting to hear from Zeitoun, “The official death toll in New Orleans was now 279… The death toll jumped to 423… The death toll was at 648 and climbing (Eggers, 190-191). ” Kathy does not have any way of knowing whether her husband is dead. Since he did not get a phone call, he was wrongly persecuted leaving Kathy to worry. Using numbers is a major example in how Eggers appeals to the logics of the reader. All of these ways Eggers incorporates logos, persuades his audience to pay attention to the Muslim Americans. Many other authors’ state, using the rhetorical appeals and more, that Muslim Americans live in the United States without any trouble. Muslims who lived in the US are just people of interest. The Colombian Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States says, “[they] became the subject of genuine curiosity (qtd. in Colombian Sourcebook pg. xi). ” This book gives more information for people interested in Muslims before and after 9/11. It uses stories and excerpts from different people on Muslims in America. Also in Malcom X’s Ballot or the Bullet, he states that religion shouldn’t be kept secret.

If Muslim’s want to live in peace some things will have to be kept secret. Malcom X says, “If we keep our religion at home, keep our religion in the closet, keep our religion between ourselves and our God, but when we come out here, we have a fight that’s common to all of us against an enemy who is common to all of us (qtd. in the Ballot or the Bullet. ” A feature article from the APA says, “Determining 9/11’s impact on Muslims in the United States is difficult (apa. org). ” with this stated, it may be shown that 9/11 and the effect on the lives of Muslims are difficult to find. Many counterarguments are brought up in oppose to Eggers. Being treated differently because of a certain religion is a form of racism. When Kathy is treated unfairly because of the way she dresses is because of so many undereducated people putting unnecessary stereotypes upon those people different from them. People need to educate themselves because Muslim Americans are no different from the other Americans who practice Christianity. Eggers effectually informs readers on Muslim Americans and argues, indirectly, that the unfair treatment of these people should be stopped. Zeitoun, successfully calls to the action on informing.

This biography by David Eggers informs readers on the living conditions of Muslim Americans before Hurricane Katrina and after 9/11 effectively using the three rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos.


  1. Cited Curtis, Edward E. The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States. New York: Columbia UP, 2008. Print. Eggers, Dave. Zeitoun.
  2. San Francisco: McSweeney’s, 2009. Print. Malcom X. “The Ballot or the Bullet. ” Detroit. 12 Apr. 1964. Speech.
  3. “Muslims in America, Post 9/11. ” Muslims in America, Post 9/11. N. p. , n. d. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <http://www. apa. org/monitor/2011/09/muslims. aspx>

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