“Letter from Birmingham Jail” Rhetorical Strategies
With many of the issues encompassing the world today, the fight of racism and equity is one of the most prominent, and central reasons as to why people still refer to “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr. In King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, he is not only answering to eight white religious leaders of the South but also to all people across the nation willing to listen. King is talking to an audience in hope of conjuring up a rational understanding by using figurative language and emotions of those who were suffering under this brutality by applying narration and imagery as well as establishing himself as voice of reason and logic.
A well thought out rhetorical choice that King makes is employing pathos through figurative language and anaphoras. In paragraph fourteen, King most prominently uses pathos, by referencing his unforgettable experiences while using an anaphora to establish credibility. By declaring:
“… living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodyness’—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait,” (King, 2)
King is establishing the irrationality of the religious leaders when they stated that the peaceful protests on segregation were “unwise and untimely” (1). Using a metaphor to create understanding, King states, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator",” (1). King implements pathos by using strong figurative language and anaphora and successfully recognizes other points made by the religious leaders.
The second rhetorical choice that King composes is...