Savoy and Pathos

Lauret Savoy opens a window for her audience in her novel Trace. In this novel, she uses the idea of landscape to tell the story of the history of her family. She takes readers though her journey focusing on the history of the land and the history of people. Before reading the novel, it would be good to know that Lauret Savoy is a mix of different races, and is a geology professor. The interesting part about the novel, is that it is not written as a scientific journal, but that of a personal narrative. She uses many rhetorical techniques to allow readers to connect to her personal anecdotes of her childhood. The inclusion of these personal anecdotes is important to the novel, and is what helps differentiate her writing from a historical geological journal. This lets readers learn the history through Savoy using the technique of pathos.

One particular section that stood out to me was in the chapter Alien Land Ethic: The Distance Between. In this chapter, she explores her thoughts and experiences as an eleven year old. She really introduces her father, and writes more about her father, and his struggles as a young colored writer trying to get published. She then switches the attention to her experiences and the adversities she faced as a young, innocent, mixed race student. The section that stood out the most to me was the inclusion of the ad her parents posted when living in California and looking for a home to rent.


“Monday March 2nd, 1959

San Francisco Chronicle


NEGRO Account Executive and

Published novelist; wife, operating room

Supervisor, wish to live as human beings

In San Francisco. Seek unprejudiced landlord

To make desirable apt. rental without


Need 3 to 4 rooms plus modern kitchen,

Bath, minimum, 9-12 mo. Lease in $100

Mo. Range. Call OL3-8242, 10 a.m. to

7:30 pm.”

I paid specific attention to “wish to live as human beings in San Francisco.” This is very strong use of pathos, which evokes sadness and pity from the reader. This deeply saddened me because I assumed that other people similar to Savoy’s family that might have not been as educated, were living in animalistic conditions. Her use of pathos helped her project by connected to the readers emotions, and immersing them in her writing. Readers leave the project enlightened and with a different perspective.

One question I am left with after reading Trace is who is the audience that she was targeting when she wrote the book? Was she writing this for strictly non-colored people to try and evoke emotions? Or was she writing this for people like her?


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