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In Barbara Ehrenreich’s passage, Maintaining the Crime Supply, she uses satire to make an argument that crime will always be prevalent in society. Through her humorous and ironical statements, Ehrenreich’s eases the negative situation into a more realistic tone in which she can break down the causes and effects of the crime supply. First, she uses modern figures as an example to describe the people’s enjoyment of crime. Ehrenreich uses Chuck Norris as a figure who, without crime, would just be a panhandling old man. This is humorous because she automatically associates crime to Chuck Norris, and implies how he is the epitome of crime. This generalization is satirical because she uses the media, which holds a unique view of Chuck Norris, to back her argument. Ehrenreich’s purpose for using this figure in this paragraph is to make the reader on the same page as her.
Using the media’s image of Chuck Norris, Ehrenreich gets the audience’s attention using the flamboyant Chuck Norris figure. Another satirical device used is understatement. When describing the process of how the government creates new criminals everyday by not improving the living standards of those in poverty, Ehrenreich describes the children as “little muggers.” This understatement and condescendence makes the tone not as dramatic as it should be. Using little and muggers together is somewhat of an oxymoron, as the two words hardly ever go together. By doing this, Ehrenreich fulfills her goal of calming the storm and taking the situation from a more realistic viewpoint, rather than a dramatic one.
Ehrenreich succeeds in getting her point across that crime is a form of entertainment and that there is crime in everyday society. By using satire, she makes the reader feel easier and not as guilty but more of an assured for the future of crime. Because this topic can be challenging for some to take, Ehrenreich creates a fun tone where she can express her views on crime without sounding overly serious.