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Chief Seattle

In: English and Literature

Submitted By bellmar
Words 406
Pages 2
Chief Seattle’s speech to Isaac Stevens explores many facets of figurative language and wisdom that come together in a beautiful, yet sorrowful, statement of the emotions of an entire people. The most prominent tool employed by Seattle is pathos, particularly drawing pity from the listener by expounding upon the centuries of woe experienced by the native Americans. Halfway through the oration, Seattle shifts the focus towards the dead, and uses references to his race’s ancestry as a method of emphasizing the impact of everyone’s life and history on the future. The appeal to emotion in the oration begins almost immediately. Seattle appeals that “Yonder sky has wept tears of compassion on my people for centuries.” This statement digs deep into the hardships that th Native Americans faced upon the white man’s continuum of manifest destiny. Personification is also heavily employed to touch the listener’s hearts; phrases such as “weeping clouds” and describing his people as “scattering trees of a storm-swept plain” emphasize the suppression of his people, ravaged and demoralized by the intrusive Americans. Creating even more empathy for his cause, Seattle tells us of the times of glory experienced by the native Americans, which starkly contrast the woeful situation of modern-day native Americans. Seattle uses spiritual parallels of two different Gods to show how the white man has justified their actions through a system designed to justify their actions. The listener can feel the sorrow of Seattle through his displayed emotions. The next major trend of conveyance that Seattle uses is respect for the dead. Seattle draws the dead to be just as, if not more, important than the living. He accuses the Americans of “wander[ing] far from the graves of [their] ancestors.” While progression past our predecessors is an important aspect of the advancement of any people, Seattle suggests Americans, as a whole, take for granted the foundations that allow us to be who we are. Like being given a head-start at the cost of another and offering no reverence. The Native Americans have upheld that respect, and accuse the American people of becoming a society of profit-driven uncompassionate group, unguided by the heart. Seattle’s case on the desired purchasing of the land burrows itself deep into the emotions of a man. His language invokes regret for our materialistic desires, and causes the listener to rethink what truly matters to both the individual and society as a whole.

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