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The Power of Introverts: Analysis of Book

A strong narrative with a skillful implementation of rhetorical modes determines the success of an argumentative literary work, as research determines the quality of an academic paper. Susan Cain (1968–), an American writer today and a lawyer in the past, worked on her non-fictional book since 2005 but accumulated the research and experience required for its creation her entire adult life (ix). Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is about introverted people living in a society of extrovert hegemony. In her book, Cain criticizes the world represented by what is called “the Extrovert Ideal,” blaming modern culture that often misreads and overlooks introverts in favor of more energetic and “alpha” extroverts (4). Cain knowingly dashes into her critic, transforming the book’s narration into a semblance of a debate with the reader. She analyzes both personality types, citing various studies and ideas, and progressively defines their pros and cons. Ultimately, Quiet is a clever symbiosis of creative writing with an academic approach, which employs ethos and logos to convey and support the author’s ideas, enabling change in the reader’s perspective.

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Ethos, the ethical appeal, is conveyed through the use of ‘I’ in the narration of Quiet. From the Author’s Note, where Cain describes how she wrote the book, and through each chapter, she uses ‘I’ to remind the reader that she is a part of everything narrated. This reminder may be a rhetorical question such as “What exactly do I mean when I say that Laura is an introvert?” (Cain 10). Alternatively, it is a definitive statement: “I’ve been puzzling over these questions for my entire adult life” (Cain 99). Additionally, Cain’s expertise in speaking up for introverts is supported by her personal life stories. By doing that, Cain shows that she experienced everything firsthand, which immediately makes her seem more credible. A prime example of such ethos in Quiet is the reveal that the author’s first client named, Laura, was the author herself, which Cain does in a concise but confident manner at the end of the Introduction (15). The reveal’s plot device adds intrigue to the narrative, prompting the reader to continue with the book.

Logos, the appeal to logic, is the second most used persuasive appeal throughout Quiet. Cain uses logos by citing facts, statistics, scholarly opinions, theories, and studies. However, the most peculiar usage of logos is when the author introduces terms coined by influential scientists to reason her points of view. In this manner, a historical transition from a culture of character to a culture of personality explained by Warren Susman is applied to the self-help guides that shifted their focus (Cain 21, 22). It is a convenient technique that helps Cain build her evidential basis by drawing on the existing evidential base. Another example of this technique in Quiet is the author’s rubber band theory. Cain states that people are born with a specific personality but can “stretch” it only to some point due to their own will or external influences (118). Rubber band theory reflects Free Trait Theory by Professor Brian Little, which is introduced in the book later. Little’s theory states that inborn fixed traits coexist with free traits acquired during life (Cain 209). It implicitly supports Cain’s theory as the ideas are similar and even complementary.

Furthermore, Cain frequently employs a rhetorical device of enumeration to emphasize her notions. For example, at the beginning of the book, Cain lists several dozen famous people stating that they are all introverts. Among these names, one can easily spot Spielberg, Rowling, Chopin, Newton, Einstein, and many more (Cain 5). Later on, this list only becomes longer as Cain adds other famous introverts to it. Enumeration is used to expand any given topic, and in this case, it relates to the reader’s familiarity with these people. It nudges the reader to rethink the notion that extroverts are always better than introverts. The enumerations make the book’s arguments more elaborate and specific, therefore more believable.

Cain generally starts with a story drawing a mental picture and illustrating the topic. For instance, in the first chapter, Dale Carnegie is at the center, and Cain tells his story as though she knew him personally. The story ends with the thesis statement: “Carnegie’s metamorphosis from farm-boy to salesman to the public-speaking icon is also the story of the rise of the Extrovert Ideal” (Cain 21). Then, the author proceeds with explanations and deliberations on the topic, namely that the obsession with dominant qualities rather than humane qualities has given rise to the Extrovert Ideal. Analyzing the root of the problem, Cain strategically contradicts herself, stating that the Extrovert Ideal can be traced back to ancient history (29). After that, the author retaliates, connecting the thesis to the contradicting statement with a counterclaim. “But the rise of the Culture of Personality intensified such biases, and applied them not only to political and religious leaders but also to regular people,” Cain says (30). She finishes the chapter by concluding Carnegie’s story with an observation that relates to the topic.

The analysis above shows the typical narrative structure of Quiet. Every chapter has the following framework: ethos followed by logos with the concluding observation or a question to the reader at the end. There may be multiple frameworks that evolve around the chapter’s topic sequentially. Although this structure may be uninteresting to the reader in terms of repetitiveness, it allows for an effective foundation for the author’s issues as the method of argumentation. In addition, that kind of logical organization of the text is similar to an academic writing structure and emphasizes necessary parts of the book. Overall, Quiet is thematically divided into four main parts, which roughly correspond to four rhetorical modes. The first part concentrates on cause and effect and answers questions like ‘how,’ ‘when,’ and ‘why.’ How did extroversion become an ideal when the culture of character shifted to the culture of personality, or why did the rise of groupthink affect creativity? Answering these questions and connecting them to the present, Cain paves the way for her critique of modern culture.

One example of cause-effect-critique can be found in the story revolving around Tony Robbins. He is the chief of the self-help industry, a great influencer, and an even greater extrovert (Cain 35). This observation alone is provocative considering the book’s orientation, but it only foreshadows the upcoming discussion. “He strikes me as having a ‘hyperthymic’ temperament – a kind of extroversion-on-steroids,” Cain states (38). Such exaggeration makes Robbins seem to the reader an antagonizing entity whose example of salesmanship, leadership, and personal growth induces people to the Extrovert Ideal. After that, Quiet instantly presents a couple of rhetorical questions that begin with ‘what if.’ These questions are thought-provoking and prepare the reader for the concluding critique. “It seems, according to Tony, that you’d better act like” an extrovert (Cain 39). The cause-effect-critique substructure provides background to the case, which improves the credibility of the author’s opinion.

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The second part of Quiet is mostly definition and exemplification, namely ‘reactivity,’ ‘orchid hypothesis,’ and ‘rubber band theory.’ The book provokes the reader to think about the biology behind introversion and extroversion. “Am I introverted because I inherited my parents’ high reactivity, copied their behaviors, or both?” Cain asks after citing a variety of ideas and studies supporting each of these notions (108). Presenting the reader with not always opposing but different views demonstrate that the author understands multiple viewpoints. That particular method helps Cain state that how genetic personality changes due to surroundings is more important than whether personality is nature or nurture (109). Further on, the author connects her position to a new array of scientists and their research. In this way, she alternately uses logos and ethos to successfully make her points. Ultimately, these points provide a solid support for Cain’s advice that introverts should always look for their “sweet spot” instead of adapting to unrealistic behavioral rules of the Extrovert Ideal (125). The same buildup is used with other recommendations throughout the book, notably the chapter on the principles of collaboration.

Cain starts with the story of Steve Wozniak, which leads to the notion that the collaborative approach does not consider introverts who require privacy to do their best (94). Cain provides research and statistics to prove her point of being against group collaboration. Then she defends face-to-face cooperation, which can be a positive experience for both personality types, suggesting refining collaboration for symbiosis between extroverts and introverts by following their strengths (Cain 93). The strong buildup for the recommendations is the key element that makes Quiet efficient as the manual for introverts.

The third part of the book mainly revolves around the contrast between American culture and other cultures. As such, the process of contrasting and comparing facilitates perceiving Quiet as research of itself and not just a review. This rhetorical mode aims to investigate a topic and enumerate similarities and differences between presented phenomena by analyzing various sources. In addition to cultural comparison, Cain uses contrasts to teach the reader about introverts and extroverts, their advantages and disadvantages, and show diverse points of view and life examples. For instance, in the chapter The Communication Gap, Cain speculates that opposites attract, and both personality types are drawn to each other more than one can imagine (224). With that in mind, she addresses relations between personality types using contrasting examples and then considers problems and their solutions.

The most practical part of the book is the last one, as it explains processes for daily life implementation. By thoroughly explaining Free Trait Theory, Quiet enables introverts to foster necessary characteristics. Cain questions the necessity of acquiring free traits because they can be extremely demanding on one’s psyche, whereas staying true to oneself as much as possible is the key part (215, 219). Doubt is a powerful instrument that the author utilizes to enable the positive transformation of the reader’s psyche.

In conclusion, Susan Cain’s Quiet is an influential book written as creative research emphasizing ethos and logos to achieve its main goal. Connecting herself to every page through first-person pronouns and personal experiences, the author successfully bonds with the reader. It prompts to reflect on everything narrated as Cain reflects on it herself. Cain uses narration in combination with description to keep the readers involved and connect the topics of Quiet. Other rhetorical modes and argumentation techniques are used to convey the author’s ideas. Altering focus without changing the main subject makes the narration consistent. However, weak or absent emotional appeal to the reader suggests that the author refrains from expressing personal feelings regarding narrated issues. Nevertheless, the book effectively follows its objectives by implementing a coherent narrative structure.

Work Cited

Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Crown Publishers, 2012.

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