King's Argument In A Letter From Birmingham Jail

973 words - 4 pages

King's Argument in A Letter from Birmingham Jail

In Dr. King's essay 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' he addresses the claims made about his arrest by the eight clergymen. His responses are very long and detailed, giving a very compelling and moving point of view. His letter is directed to his audience, which consists of white middle class citizens who Dr. King refers to as the 'white moderates'. Dr. King's letter is very persuasive because his use of pathos makes the audience think or imagine themselves in the situation. It is very poignant of him to write his letter this way. He is in touch with the views of his audience, which makes a greater impact on his readers. Dr. King uses antecdotes to make his readers see the injustice that would continue if there were no changes. It helps his audience to feel that they are a very powerful part of this issue and that they can make a difference.

Dr. King uses imagery in his writing that makes the audience visualize what he has seen. He knows that the white moderates have strong family values, so he reaches out to them by providing stories about children. There is one story about a little girl who has just seen an ad on television and when she asks her father if she can go, he has to look his daughter in the eye and tell her that ?Funtown is closed to colored children?(King 561). He then goes on to explain about how that forces that young child to grow up to feel inferior and to begin to hate because she has darker skin than the other children do. Then there is another story about the family taking a cross-country vacation and having to ??sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile?? because motels would not accept colored people (King 561). It really makes the audience sit back and think,?Wow, what if that were me.?
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Dr. King refers to his audience speaking to them directly and letting them know that he is very disappointed in the way that things are going. He addresses their feelings on the issues that are surrounding Birmingham, helping them to come to the realization that this was in fact what they were thinking and saying, and that they need to act on it for anything to change. He goes on to say ?We bring it out into the open, where it can be seen and dealt with?(King 563).

King uses irony, by giving examples of him using peaceful actions that were condemned anyway because they were said to ?precipitate violence?. He went on to say, ?Isn?t that like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated in the evil act of robbery??(King 563). Dr. King also realizes that the white moderates are mostly religious. He reminds them ?Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability, it comes through...

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