13 November 2013
Language is an Action “Old women, I hold in my hand a bird. Tell me whether it is living or dead?” Toni forces us to dive into a twenty minute speech based on this very analogy about language. Toni Morrison’s speech encourages people of all ages, old and young and all in between, to appreciate the astonishing art of language and what can be accomplished with language using antithesis, paradox, parallel word structure and repetition. Morrison strikes her audience with a water balloon full of rhetorical strategies that splatter paradoxes, parallel structures, antitheses, and repetition schemes over her crowd with even just one sentence. “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” Morrison says “We do language.” She says “do” when she could have said speak or say, but she says “we do language” expressing the fact that language is an art that we use to accomplish everything we do, the simplest word to express the act of doing something. Morrison says “we die. That may be the meaning of life” She formulates antithesis in this quote because she is comparing dying and living. Communicating is what gets someone through life; everyone can communicate, whether it is through music, sign language, body language, words, so how is one to get through life using these things? It’s language. Finally she mentions “That may be the meaning of our lives.” We must accomplish everything we act with language no matter what type or style of language that is. Toni communicates us with parallel structure, paradoxes and antitheses in an abundance of ways to express the beauty and diversity of language. “Tell us what it is to be a woman, so that we may know what it is to be a man.” Parallel structure is being conveyed with the idea of woman and man being compared to each other as they are totally opposite. It also expresses ignorance to the desire of knowledge because it is knowing both sides of two complete differences. Because it is acknowledging the knowledge of one to another it expresses a paradox as well. This quote revolves around all three of these schemes because they are all very similar in the fact of parallelism. So antithesis is included because of the comparison of man and women.
Morrison urges her audience to focus on the actions of language through paradoxes and antitheses. “…but a view of heaven as