Expository: Why Rituals Are Good

24 The Rhetorical Situation and Evidence

In this chapter, you’ll examine “Why Rituals are Good for Your Health” to discover how Honarvar’s audience (the people she wrote for) influenced how she told her story.

The Rhetorical Situation


A rhetorical situation is a situation that requires some form of communication. The situation can be as ordinary as having to text a friend to say that you’re running late or as complicated as a scientist having to explain to other scientists her discoveries about Mars. Although a text to a friend and a scholarly article about discovering a new star may seem very different from each other, they have things in common.Although a text to a friend and a scholarly article about discovering a new star may seem very different from each other, they share these three elements:

  1. a purpose (why it’s written)
  2. an audience (to whom it’s written)
  3. context (the time it was written, the location where it was published, and other circumstances related to the writing)

Your Rhetorical Situation

Because you are part of the community of writers, your words are also shaped by rhetorical situations.  Just like the professional writers, you choose your words based on the purpose of your communication, your audience, and other circumstances  For example, you might use ”r u late?” in a text to a friend, but you’d use complete words and sentences in an email to your boss.

Ari Honarvar’s Rhetorical Situation

In the essay “Why Rituals are Good for Your Health,” the author Ari Honarvar had to consider her rhetorical situation as she wrote about her Persian culture and the importance of rituals.  She had to ask herself these questions:

  1. What is the purpose of my article?
  2. Who will read it?
  3. Where and when will the  article be published? What else might affect the way I present my ideas?

Answering these questions forced her to make several decisions as a writer and these decisions affected her final essay.

Analysis of “Why Rituals are Good for Your Health”

Try to analyze Honarvar’s in terms of the rhetorical situation: Purpose, Audience, and Context.


The main purpose of the essay “Why RItuals are Good for Your Health” is to support the claim made in the title: that rituals are good for your health.  The title is a claim because anyone – including you – could disagree with it.  You might think that rituals are not necessarily good for your health. Becuase there is room for disagreement, Honarvar must provide evidence to show that rituals are beneficial.  She does this in two ways:

  • She uses her personal experience
  • She includes the opinions of experts

Finding Evidence

  1. Find two sentences in the essay in which Honarvar uses research  as evidence that  rituals are good for our health.
  2. Find two sentences in the essay in which Honarvar uses her personal experience as evidence that rituals are good for our health.
  3. In your opinion, which kind of evidence is stronger and why?


To determine audience, you have to look at the place where Honarvar’s essay was first published and try to figure out the audience for website or publication.  Honarvar’s essay was first published on the website of Yes Magazine.  Click on the following link to see the essay published in “Yes” magazine: Essay in “Yes.”   Look around the “Yes” website. Click on the headings across the top to see what other kinds of articles Yes Magazine publishes.

  1. Write down the titles of 3 other articles from the website.
  2. Skim the three articles you chose.
  3. What are the articles about?  News? Sports? Science? Culture? Politics? Entertainment? Food?
  4. Who might be interested in these articles?

Based on your answers, who might be the audience for Yes Magazine?  This audience would also be Honarvar’s audience.


The context is the set of circumstances surrounding a piece of writing.  In “Why Rituals for Good for Your Health,” Honarvar provides context in the first paragraph where describes growing up in the middle of a war.  The war is an important piece of the context of her story.

  1. Try to describe, in your own words, why the context of war is important to Honarvar’s story.
  2. Why do you think she describes the effects of the war in the first paragraph?
  3. How does that description affect the way you read her essay?

In your opinion, does the presence of a war strengthen or weaken her claim about the benefits of rituals?



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