Ap English Pink Flamingo Essay

Pink Flamigo Essay Jennifer Price uses the iconic image of the “plastic pink flamingo” to paint Americans as seekers of what the flamingo represented – boldness. Price uses detail and diction to impress the flare of the flamingo upon the reader . She provides facts and analysis to show how the flamingo represents audacity and how Americans tried to incorporate that into their lives by having those plastic pink flamingos. Price’s main strategy is to paint the flamingo as something large, flamboyant and festive. The first example of this is her introduction to the artifact as “splash[ing] into the 50s market”. The usage of the word “splash” suggests a sudden and explosive entering of this trend. The flamingo is a totally inanimate object and for her to use “splash” to describe its entry into the lives of Americans makes the flamingo come to life with a personality all of its own. Price then

AP Rhetorical Writing Practice

Read the passage carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze how Price crafts the text to reveal her view of United States culture.

Annotate the Essay with the PROMPT and ESSAY TYPE in mind.

When the pink flamingo splashed into the fifties market, it staked two major claims to boldness. First, it was a flamingo. Since the 1930s, vacationing Americans had been flocking to Florida and returning home with flamingo souvenirs. In the 1910s and 1920s, Miami Beach’s first grand hotel, the Flamingo, had made the bird synonymous with wealth and pizzazz. . . . [Later], developers built hundreds of more modest hotels to cater to an eager middle class served by new train lines — and in South Beach, especially, architects employed the playful Art Deco style, replete with bright pinks and flamingo motifs.

This was a little ironic, since Americans had hunted flamingos to extinction in Florida in the late 1800s, for plumes and meat. But no matter.In the 1950s, the new interstates would draw working-class tourists down, too.Back in New Jersey, the Union Products flamingo inscribed one’s lawn emphatically with Florida’s cachet of leisure and extravagance.The bird acquired an extra fillip of boldness, too, from the direction of Las Vegas — the flamboyant oasis of instant riches that the gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel had conjured from the desert in 1946 with his Flamingo Hotel. Anyone who has seen Las Vegas knows that a flamingo stands out in a desert even more strikingly than on a lawn. In the 1950s, namesake Flamingo motels, restaurants, and lounges cropped up across the country like a line of semiotic sprouts.

And the flamingo was pink— a second and commensurate claim to boldness. The plastics industries of the fifties favored flashy colors, which Tom Wolfe called “the new electrochemical pastels of the Florida littoral: tangerine, broiling magenta, livid pink, incarnadine, fuchsia demure, Congo ruby, methyl green.” The hues were forward-looking rather than old-fashioned, just right for a generation, raised in the Depression, that was ready to celebrate its new affluence. And as Karal Ann Marling has written, the
“sassy pinks” were “the hottest color of the decade.” Washing machines, cars, and kitchen counters proliferated in passion pink, sunset pink, and Bermuda pink. In 1956, right after he signed his first recording contract, Elvis Presley bought a pink Cadillac.

Why, after all, call the birds “pink flamingos” — as if they could be blue or green? The plastic flamingo is a hotter pink than a real flamingo, and even a real flamingo is brighter than anything else around it. There are five species, all of which feed in flocks on algae and invertebrates in saline and alkaline lakes in mostly warm habitats around the world. The people who have lived near these places have always singled out the flamingo as special. Early Christians associated it with the red phoenix. In ancient Egypt, it symbolized the sun god Ra. In Mexico and the Caribbean, it remains a major motif in art, dance, and literature.No wonder that the subtropical species stood out so loudly when Americans in temperate New England reproduced it, brightened it, and sent it wading across an inland sea of grass.


Jennifer Price
The American Scholar, Spring 1999

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