lanlin ([personal profile] lanlin) wrote2013-06-16 10:41 pm

Rhetorical Analysis of Code-Breaker

Jim Holt’s Code-breaker is a compelling story about Alan Turing who broke the code that German used during the Second World War. Holt's voice in this article is sympathetic, and his target audience is the general public. The story starts with the mysterious death of Alan Turing. This beginning grabs readers’ interest instantly. As it continues, Holt displays Turing’s life waved with his heroic achievement in computing and early artificial intelligence and his miserable treatment because he is a gay.

Holt uses a lot of logos to describe how complicated the German Enigma Code is. One example is that “…further layers of complexity were added, increasing the number of possible keys to something like a hundred and fifty quintillion” (342). Yet Turing not only broke the code, “as the Enigma evolved,” he “continued to devise new strategies to defeat [the code]” (342). “[T]he German High Command refused to believe that the Enigma could have been broken, suspecting instead espionage and treachery” (342). Readers undoubtedly admire Turing as a scientific genius. Because of his work, Britain’s fate in the Second World War changed.

However, for such a hero, not only Turing didn’t get the deserved recognition before he died because British kept this information classified, he had terrible time after he admitted his homosexual affair. He was arrested and charged “gross indecency,” and he was forced to take hormonal treatment (345). Holt effectively uses pathos when he describes Turing’s personal life. His use of emotional words such as “affectionate exasperation,” “moral turpitude,” and “romantic liaison” successfully shows different reactions to his conviction of being a gay from his mother, the society and himself (345).

It seems that Holt disagrees with Leavitt on Turing’s life after his arrest being “a slow, sad descent into grief and madness” because Holt thinks Leavitt’s description is “overly dramatic” (345). However, Holt shares Leavitt’s opinion that “Turing’s death… occurred in a period of acute anxiety about spies and homosexuals and Soviet entrapment” (345). Even though Holt is not able to answer if Turing’s death is a suicide or murder, readers can say that even if Truing ate the poisonous apple by himself, he was murdered by the non-inclusive society that he lived in.