W. E. B. Dubois 'Of Our Spiritual Strivings'

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In the eleventh paragraph of “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” W. E. B. Du Bois’s stylistic and content choices contribute to the persuasiveness of the idea that prejudice is negative and harmful through the use of such rhetorical devices as word choice, alliteration, rhetorical questions, personification, an appeal to pathos, and allusion. In the first sentence of the paragraph, Du Bois writes that prejudice inevitably brings the “self-questioning, self-disparagement, and lowering of ideals which ever accompan[ies] repression and breed[s] in an atmosphere of contempt and hate.” In using the word “breed” to describe the effects of prejudice, Du Bois makes the reader think of the mindless propagation of a virus or bacteria. This, therefore, helps…show more content…
He first asks, from the African Americans’ perspective, “what need of education, since we must always cook and serve?” followed by, from the white’s perspective, “what need of higher culture for half-men?” The effect of this rhetorical questioning is that the reader sees the effect that prejudice has on African Americans—they lose hope and are degraded by…show more content…
The personification of “the Nation” gives more character to the idea of prejudice, removing the idea of an unknowable entity. Rather, it becomes something that the reader can comprehend and even relate to. Lastly, Du Bois makes an appeal to pathos when he says, “[a]way with the black man’s ballot, by force or fraud,—and behold the suicide of a race!” Suicide is obviously a strong word choice, and in using it, Du Bois makes the readers morbidly connect with the African Americans’ plight at an emotional level. It serves to help the reader understand the impact that prejudice has on African Americans and in doing so again increases the persuasiveness of Du Bois’s argument. In conclusion, Du Bois’s stylistic and content choices, which include word choice, allusion, alliteration, rhetorical questions, personification, and an appeal to pathos, serve to make the main idea in paragraph eleven—that the effects of prejudice are negative and harmful—more
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