he Death of Benny Paret by Norman Mailer

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Fierce, vehement, and feral, Emile Griffith punched Benny Paret 18 times within a mere 3 seconds. These crucial 3 seconds became life-changing for the enduring Benny Paret as he confronted death; unfortunately, Paret could not bear the deep wound inflicted to him by Griffith and has passed away. In the stands, the audience was frightened by what they saw, but one in particular, Norman Mailer, was also appalled and incredulous in what he had witnessed. Afterwards, Norman Mailer published a passage, The Death of Benny Paret, describing the brutal fight and delineating his perspective on the issue. In The Death of Benny Paret, Norman Mailer utilized stylistic devices such as diction, literary devices, and syntax to give the reader an overall dismal mood about the brawl throughout the passage, because that is how Mailer felt that mournful day.

Initially, Mailer used diction through imagery and emotional words to give the reader how the situation felt to him and to describe to the reader the situation. In the passage, emotional words such as “bad maulings”, “three disgusted steps away”, and “referee’s face came a look of woe” pop up. Mailer utilizes these negative emotional words to impose a tone that is solemn towards Paret and a tone that is disdainful towards Griffith. Consequently, the reader’s mood coincides with the tone of the author. For example, the phrase “referee’s face came a look of woe” gives the reader a grievous feeling because of the word “woe”. Another instance where a reader can see this is in the phrase “three disgusted steps away”. Mailer could have just stated “three steps away”, but he wanted to enforce the negative connotation of the story and to show the reader how he had felt. Additionally, imagery is used in...

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...ces to delineate Paret’s eminence. A special case, the quote “As he took those eighteen punches something happened to everyone who was in psychic range of the event.” shows how life-changing Paret had been to Mailer and Mailer explicates this in detail. Consequently, the reader would have a sense of admiration for Paret.

Throughout the whole essay, Mailer interspersed various stylistic devices ranging from diction to syntax in order to give the reader an overall melancholy mood to reflect how he felt that day when he witnessed Paret die. Since he had utilized these stylistic devices, he had engendered potency for his passage as a whole and he had reinforced the mood throughout the passage with efficacy. More importantly, from this passage, Mailer wanted the reader to remember the significance of Benny Paret and the fact that surprises lurk in every corner of life.

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