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King Essay

In: Other Topics

Submitted By djfksldjf
Words 809
Pages 4
JD Lee
FYC 13100
Professor Clauss
December 12, 2010
A Writing which is emotional, but not illogical at all In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., with other fifty-three black people, marched into downtown Birmingham and protested against the unjust racial segregation. However, all the members involved in the march were arrested. In Jail, as a response to the letter written by the clergymen to stop the black’s demonstration, Martin Luther King wrote “The Letter From Birmingham Jail” back to the clergymen. King’s letter longs for the immediate need for non-violent and direct protest against the unjust and immoral segregation laws. The letter itself exemplifies all the aspects of arguments. However, to be little more specific, King’s effective and brilliant employment of ethos and pathos to persuade the audience plays the major role for his effective and remarkable argumentation in this letter. Effectively and successively utilizing ethos, King succeeds not only in disproving the clergymen referring King and his crew as “outsiders” but also in making his arguments more credible. In “Statement by Alabama Clergymen, April 12, 1963”, the clergymen refer Martin Luther King and other 53 black people to the term, “outsiders.” As a response to this, King starts off with the use of ethos in “The Letter from Birmingham Jail” to acknowledge the audience that he is not an outsider, but one of the clergymen in Birmingham Society. He greets the clergymen with the head of the letter, “My Dear Fellow Clergymen:” By using the word, “Fellow”, King implies that King himself is also a clergyman of a church in Birmingham society, not an outsider. It is definitely an effective way of using ethos. In addition, King repeatedly utilizes ethos to give himself a good degree of credibility. In the second paragraph, he writes, “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.” (Paragraph 2) After reading this quote, the readers become more credulous toward the arguments of King, because they realize the credibility and social status that the character of a state-level religious association’s leader usually has. Moreover, King employs pathos with the brilliant sentence structure and the touching dictions, both of which are really effective in appealing to the emotion and values of the readers. For most part of the letter, King’s arguments are logical than emotional. However, in the 12th paragraph, King piles up the desperate incidents of evil segregation in an extraordinary sentence structure. He writes a number of dependent clauses successively, stating with “When you” and each dependent clause consists of an evil racial segregation that the black has to go through: “When you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people so mean?”; when you take a cross country…” (Paragraph 12) After writing down about nine dependent clauses with nine different examples of unjust inequality, King finally writes, “then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” (Paragraph 12) This structure of writing sentences makes the audience feel not only the fury and detestation that black people feel toward white people, but also the pity toward the black people. Also, the touching dictions play some role in making the use of pathos effective in King’s argument. In paragraph 12, King uses certain adjectives with similar connotation to describe white people or society: “vicious mobs”, “hate-filled policemen” and “an affluent society”. On the other hand, he uses the other kind of dictions to describe black people: “mothers and fathers”, “sisters and brothers” and “an airtight cage of poverty.” By modifying white people with the adjectives like “vicious” and “hate-filled”, King makes the readers focus more on unjust, cruel and biased characteristics of white people. This eventually makes the readers show more sympathy toward black people. Also, the dictions like “mothers and fathers” and “sisters and brothers” strengthens the bond between the black people who are reading the letter. Lastly, the two dictions, “an airtight cage of poverty” and “an affluent society” is the use of juxtaposition. King, by juxtaposing the two words which describe the bipolar financial conditions of the Black and the White, makes the readers realize how deep the gap between the two different races socially as well as economically. For more than 40 years, “The Letter From Birmingham Jail” has been considered as one of the exemplifying examples of persuasive writing. Effectively but not too boldly rebutting the argumentation of the clergymen, reasonably entitling some credibility to his words and creatively appealing to the readers’ emotion, King perfectly employs the two methods of persuasion, ethos and pathos. As long as both ethos and pathos work for people in the future, “The Letter From Birmingham Jail” will remain as the paramount example of argumentative writings.

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