The broadsheet newspaper articles ‘Listen, I will tell you what terror is’ written by Indra Sinha is a hybrid of an article and an appeal. It is aimed at financially secure British people; the main purpose of this article is to raise awareness and persuade people to donate money for the Bhopal gas victims. This disaster struck Bhopal, India on December 1984 when there was a gas leak in the Union Carbide factory. The writer uses a variety of language and literary techniques to make the article more emotive and to persuade readers to donate to the victims.
The first thing the readers are attracted to is the picture of the old man, which is set right in the middle of the article. The writer deliberately used this picture to instantly capture the reader’s attention; the headline ‘Listen, I will tell you what terror is’ tells the audience than this man has suffered and this makes us feel sympathy for the man and makes them want to continue reading the text to find out what happened. This is affective because to fulfill the purpose of this text it has to be read thoroughly.
In addition the writer also uses emotive language throughout the article, which is used to create an emotional response from the reader.
‘People are dying… piss and shit running down their legs…choking’ emotive language makes the reader feel anger and sympathy because of what has happened to the people in Bhopal as it makes people clearly see what was happening in the night of the disaster. By putting the readers in the victims shoes it makes them feel for the people more therefore increasing the chance for donating.
Another effective tool that the writer uses is sensory imagery. Not only does this technique capture the reader emotionally, it enables them to touch, smell, taste, hear and see very clearly what was happening that night. ‘Woman lost her unborn baby… eyes that stare like boiled eggs… children’s hands are torn from ours’. These descriptions make the article more effective as readers can put themselves in the night of the disaster and understand the pain people had to go through encouraging them to donate. This also creates a hatred towards Union Carbide as it shows us exactly how much destruction they caused that night and still they are not willing to take responsibility for it. By doing this it makes the people more willing to donate which is one of the main aims for this article.
Furthermore the use of statistics also helps create sympathy for the victims ‘…8000 died in the first days… free care to more than 20000 people. Statistics gives the readers a scale of how big the problem is and also balances out the emotive and sensory language by making it more believable for the readers. The writer also uses identification in the article ‘women…babies… girls’ this like the statistics make the article more real and creates a greater response form the reader. Using real people in the article makes the readers feel more connected and they feel more sympathy towards the victims especially the young children and the babies. The writer uses a broad range of identification in this article ‘women… man… young girls… babies’ he does this so a broad range of people will identify with them and be able to put themselves in the night of the disaster therefore increasing the chance for donations.
Moreover the writer makes the text more effective by using personal pronouns ‘our… us… we’ personal pronouns include the reader in the text and make them feel that they are in the readers shoes, it makes them feel guilty that nothing is being done to stop any of this so they are compelled to donate. Personal pronoun also creates polarization between the readers and Union Carbide. In the article the reader uses words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ while talking about the victims and the readers this makes us feel that we are on the same team. But when talking about Union Carbide the writer uses ‘them’ ‘they’
‘It’ this separates them from everyone else and makes them the bad team, by using the word ‘it’ to describe them ‘it kept quite’ shows that they are not even human and what they are doing is horrible. By making the readers feel like they are on the good team it makes them feel like they have to do something or they will be the same as Union Carbide.
Rhetorical questions are also very effective in the article because they make people think and question what is happening. ‘How will we survive’ ‘you tell me who are the terrorists’ it makes the readers think about the question and whether or not they can answer it. It makes the reader think about the situation in Bhopal and what they would do if it happened to them, this makes them realize how helpless the Bhopal victims are. This makes them responsible and obliged to donate.
The last section of the article is completely different from the rest. Instead of informing people about the night of the disaster it tells us what people are doing to help and what their money is going o be used for. It talks about the clinic it helped to build and how it helped ‘2000 people’ this makes the reader realize that their money will go to a good cause and help thousands of people which gives them a good reason to donate.
Finally the donation box is places strategically in the bottom of the article. It is placed at he bottom because after reading the article them seeing the donation box it will encourage the people to donate, if it was placed at the top and it was the first thing the readers saw then less people are likely to donate as they don’t know what the money is for. Also above the donation box is a strong quote ‘… here is my gift to help those still suffering in Bhopal’ this is a very convincing quote because it makes people want to donate more and if they don’t it makes them feel that they are not helping the victims.
In conclusion, the writer makes the text effective by using a variety of techniques. I feel that the most effective techniques are emotive language and sensory imagery as it captures the reader emotionally and help to create sympathy for the Bhopal victims convincing then that this is a good cause to donate money to. I feel that this article was very successful in its purpose, which was to receive generous donations. With all the techniques together I feel that this article seizes the reader and make them feel intensely connected to the story.