Rhetorical Devices In Letter From Birmingham Jail

788 Words4 Pages
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights leader who advocated for nonviolent confrontation of segregation, wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as a response to the clergymen who interrogated his techniques of protest in “Public Statement by Eight Alabama Clergymen”. The eight Alabama clergymen, who wanted to humiliate King in his efforts to peacefully demonstrate against discrimination, describe their concerns and cautions for the demonstrations controlled by an outsider, King, in the city of Birmingham. Although the clergymen state that they support King’s ultimate aims, they cannot accept the imprudent demonstrations. King, hoping to publicize and persuade the public to take action against segregation, cunningly refutes the clergymen’s concerns with the use of rhetorical strategies and devices to support his argument. In his letter, King appeals to logos with the use of eloquent facts, definitions, and evidences to support his argument. Demonstrating the failure of negotiations, King writes: Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known…than in any other…show more content…
King’s periodic sentence structure allows the clergymen and the public to hold suspense and sympathy until the end of the sentence. Nonetheless, the clergymen state, in the last paragraph, that they “further strongly urge our own [African American] community to withdraw support from these demonstrations, and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham”. With the use of imperative sentence structure, the clergymen’s requests become authoritative, which makes it harder for the audience to sympathize with the clergymen’s arguments. Consequently, not only does King’s appeal to pathos stimulate an emotional response from the audience, but it also helps the audience connect to King’s point of
Open Document