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Letter to daniel

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"Letter to Daniel" Critical Essay "Letter to Daniel" by Fergal Keane is a non-fiction text that triggers an emotional response in the reader. Keane uses effective language, word choice, structure, setting and tone to reflect on his own personal experience which he uses to address the wider themes of the importance of family, forgiveness and the fallibility of man. The text takes the format of a letter from a new father to his newly born son. Keane uses this to reflect on his life experience as not only a new father but also a war correspondent. It also reflects on the horrors of child suffering he has witnessed, his relationship with his alcoholic father and how fatherhood clearly changes his outlook on life. Keane effectively uses language and structure in the opening paragraphs to evoke an emotional response from the reader. The fact that the text is written in letter format highlights that it is something personal. It includes first person thoughts and feelings of the reader which are usually meant for the person the letter is addressed to only. Kean's use of the vocative " My Dear Son" at the beginning of the first paragraph immediately emphasises the feelings he has towards his son and it makes the reader think that the letter is written from the heart. ...read more.


All these pieces of description help the reader to visualise how the world is in harmony with the joy and happiness within the home. As the letter continues the tone alters as Keane reflects on his life as a foreign war correspondent for the BBC. Keanes use of language is very effective in establishing a negative mood in the next few paragraphs. He describes Sharja, a girl aged twelve who has lost both her parents and says "guiding me through the grey ruins of her home, everything was gone". The setting he describes is in complete contrast with that of the first third of the letter where he talks about his comfortable family life. Fatherhood allows Keane to appreciate the value of life. He says, "I wonder how I could ever have thought glory and prizes were sweeter than life". This suggests to the reader that his priorities have changed and it highlights his pride towards his son. Keanes attention to detail when he talks about the dangerous and distressing things he has seen while working as a war correspondent makes them so much more realistic. An example of this would be when he speaks about the cases of child suffering he has witnessed. He says, "Ten-year-old Andi Mikail dying from napalm burns" and "Juste, two-years-old and blind, dying from malnutrition". ...read more.


The sympathetic tone of this part of the letter reinforces the idea of regret and it evokes emotions of sadness from the reader. By the final stage of the letter Keane reflects on the birth of his son and the tone changes again to one of optimism and hope. Keane reflects on all aspects of his life to date and begins to not only accept but also forgive his father in spite of his faults. He says, "I thought of your grandfather". This highlights that Keane has forgiven him as he is talking about him as if he is still one of the family. Keane says, "foolish though it may seem, I hoped that in some way he could hear across the infinity between the living and the dead your proud statement of arrival." This reinforces the idea of acceptance. Keane goes on to describe how he hopes for "New beginnings". This establishes that he is looking forward to having a good future with his son and it also highlights the sense of hope he feels. The reader can identify with this joyous occasion and is left with a sense of hope. To conclude, "Letter to Daniel" is a non-fiction text which triggers an emotional response in the reader. Through the process of recounting his experience, Keane highlights many universal themes the reader can relate to such as the importance of family. It is a profound piece of journalism which delivers a universal and thought-provoking message. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This piece shows a good understanding of the purpose of the text and how the writer's thoughts and feelings have been communicated to the reader. To enhance the analysis there should be more of a focus on the context of the piece; the fact it was written for broadcast while at the same time reading as a personal letter.

4 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 08/05/2013

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