Rhetorical Devices Used In Letter From Birmingham Jail

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Path to racial harmony Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and sent to Birmingham jail because of nonviolent protesting against segregation without a permit in Birmingham. During that time the civil rights movement was going on where African Americans were being segregated because of the whites. They were not treated equally. During 1963, in jail, Dr. King wrote a letter in response to the clergymen in order to defend himself from the accusations that were made against him by the clergymen. He described in his letter that the demonstrations that were taking place in Birmingham were not in his hands because of the white power that had them being left with no other choice. Dr. King’s letter addresses the hostile attitude of white power towards …show more content…

Dr. King used ethos in this letter when he talked about his personal experience of being segregated: “when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you” (King 2). He was once not allowed in a place because of being of a different skin color. This supported his purpose because he did not want anyone else to suffer from what he suffered because of being black. Dr. King also used ethos by mentioning a religious leader like St. Augustine: “An unjust law is no law at all” (King 3). He was building up his credibility by quoting a spiritual leader and quoting someone of high skills and knowledge brought more power and strength to his letter that made his point to be agreed upon. The second persuasive appeal Dr. King used was pathos where he effectively tried to connect with the audience emotionally. He did that by mentioning his six-year-old daughter who was segregated: “see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children” (King 2). This was making the audience connect emotionally to the little kid who was not allowed to be at an amusement park because of being colored. Most importantly it connected to the people who had daughters because they would probably not want their daughter to be …show more content…

He used rhetorical questions in a way to answer the questions of objections the audience had with him. He also used rhetorical questions to have the readers think about the reality of the situations taking place in that time period. For instance, he used the rhetorical question like, “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?”(King 2). Using the rhetorical question was an effective way to strengthen his point because Dr. King was revealing the reality truth to the reader that is supposed to be interpreted by him. Dr. King wanted negotiation and in order to have it, he used another rhetorical question to have the readers think twice before they take any action:“Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?”(King 2). First Dr. King asked the clergyman a question and then also gave a sort of answer of negotiation. Dr. King was having the clergyman to wonder if he should just have a peace negotiation rather than “sit-ins, marches and so forth” because these direct actions had a dark effect on the society such as crisis and tension. Instead of these crisis happening the only option left for them was to negotiate. The rhetorical question was having the reader to choose if they were going to use the direct action or not to have equality. These rhetorical questions were clarifying the path for the ones involved in the social

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