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Free Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example (Pursuit of Happyness Movie)


The movie Pursuit of Happyness is premised on the challenges and perseverance of Chris Gardner. The movie illustrates Chris as a persistent salesman who refuses to let his dreams die despite his financial problems, conflict in the family and pressure of being a responsible father. Though the movie attempts to describe Chris's journey toward happiness, only a few instances of happiness occur.

Rhetorical Analysis of Pursuit of Happyness Movie

Rhetorical Situation

The movie illustrates Chris taking his son to daycare and on the way out he notices that the word happiness is misspelt to "happyness." He attempts to explain the difference to the caretaker stating that happiness has an "I" instead of "Y"; however, the caretaker is not concerned with the spelling of the word. It is evident that Chris insists that the word happiness should be spelt accurately, thus emphasizing the significance of "I" not only in the word itself but in the entire life.

Chris's argument is identifiable by his occupation as a bone scanner salesman, where his sales pitches assume a positive and optimistic attitude while attempting to convince the clients to make a purchase. Though Chris is constantly disappointed, he continues to believe that the next day will have better results; hence his optimism is premised on his belief that he can attain happiness despite the many challenges in his life.

It is evident that Chris's troubles are motivated by his inability to make money leading to constant confrontations with his wife, landlord and losing the respect of other people. However, Chris continues to uphold his beliefs that, despite his current financial difficulties, he will succeed in realizing his dream. The adherence to one's beliefs and keeping the faith in a happier tomorrow is a precept that Chris instills in his son. He tells his son, "Don't ever let somebody tell you, you can't do something; not even me. You got a dream; you got to protect it" ("The Pursuit of Happyness"). This statement asserts Chris's belief that, despite the challenges in one's life, he or she can achieve his/her dream.


Chris speaks to his son reiterating that he (his son) can do anything no matter the challenges that he may encounter. Chris struggles to sell a product that has consumed his finances and time, thus causing the conflict in his home. As a result, his wife leaves him. Furthermore, he is left with the responsibility for taking care of his son and providing for both of them. Though his financial situation worsens to the extent that the landlord closes his house, Chris refuses to despair or to give up. As such, he refuses to give those who think he cannot make it the satisfaction of proving them right. Though his financial problems lead to his wife leaving and he accounts for every single cent in his possession, Chris continues to motivate his son and urge him never to give up on his dreams.

Chris observes that though people may tell his son that he is incapable of achieving a defined goal, he should not entertain such line of thought. He believes that hardships are merely a stepping stone to the realization of one's dreams; therefore, difficulties should be faced with the belief that they can be overcome. Evidently, his wife does not believe in him or the precepts within which he faces their poverty stricken situation. In addition, Chris places significant value on his son, as he states at the beginning of the movie he meets his father for the first time when he is at the age of twenty-eight. He thinks that, as a father, he must do all that is in his power to provide for and protect his son. Therefore, he cannot allow his son to suffer a similar fate as he did growing up without a father to protect, guide or provide for him.

When Chris's wife decides to leave him, he categorically states that she can leave if she wishes. However, he cannot allow her to take their son since he cannot trust her to provide and care for him. This illustrates that Chris values his son to the extent that he is not ready to abandon his dream of becoming a stoke broker subsequently gaining the ability to provide for his son. His poverty, divorce, homelessness and non-paying internship are the aspects of his life that could have made him give up, but his resolve to fight till the end leads to the realization of his dream, hence happiness. As such, the concern that his son can give up on life makes Chris unequivocally and passionately inform the son that no one has the right to tell him that he cannot achieve his dreams in life. Furthermore, he makes sure that his son removes any thoughts of giving up from his mind.

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Though the dialogue between Chris and his son can be described as conventional talks between father and son, the dialogue is not only directed to his son but to the audience. Chris is an example of a struggling African-American man who has to deal with the demands of his family life, a white-dominated work environment and financial problems that lead to homelessness.

As the movie starts, Chris attempts to inform the caretaker at the daycare that the word happiness is misspelt. However, the assertion that happiness includes an "I" illustrates the central idea of the movie. This asserts that the pursuit of happiness should entail the happiness of the individual. Though Chris points out to an error in spelling of the word "happiness," he inadvertently addresses the audience. This shows his struggles are aimed at seeking his happiness and not that of others. Therefore, the audience should pursue their own respective happiness irrespective of what others may think or believe.

In addition, the remarks suggesting that his son should not allow people to tell him that he cannot make it in life are also directed at the audience. Chris has a demeanor that embodies perseverance and persistence in his actions and attempts to instill his beliefs not only in his son but also in the audience.


Through the movie, Chris Gardner asserts the significance of upholding one's beliefs. Therefore, despite the challenges that may be encountered, perseverance and dedication to the pursuit of one's goals should be the driving force in the realization of one's dreams. Chris represents a man who, despite the challenges in his marriage and work, continues to believe that he can make it. Chris represents self-control, courage and resilience in his efforts to give his son a better life than his (Chris's) father ever gave him.

Thus, Chris illustrates that though money is an essential contributor to the pursuit of happiness, it is not the utmost determinant of happiness. Other aspects of life such as the relationship with his son or being present in his son's life are more valuable than anything else in the world. This shows that happiness in life cannot be quantified in terms of financial gain; however, it is an amalgamation of various factors that include family relationships, job satisfaction and success in the face of varied obstacles.


While Chris's actions in the movie contribute toward defining his character as a man, worker and father, his words have a greater impact on understanding his principles, attitudes and outlook on life. The life of Chris Gardener and his son presents a myriad of issues that impact a significant number of ordinary people attempting to make ends meet. In essence, the movie succeeds in illustrating financial problems as the primary cause of most conflicts in marriages.

However, while the need for money as a factor of success is emphasized, other key factors have been identified as critical in the definition of ultimate happiness. These include faith in one-self, perseverance in the face of challenges, family and personal relationships and persistence in pursuing one's goals among others. It is evident that the movie brings out a myriad of issues that reflect the struggles of common people in their attempts to make it in a world filled with varied challenges.

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