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“Letter from Birmingham City Jail”, was written by Martin Luther King, Jr., in response to criticism made by clergymen who claimed that the demonstrations were “unwise and untimely.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., clarifies to these clergymen that he usually does not respond to criticism because if he stops to do it, then he would not have time to do anything else. That he is responding to them because he respects their opinion and wants to elucidate his actions to his fellow clergymen.
Martin Luther King, Jr., defends his actions by stating his reasons and tells them that all his actions have justifications and tells themwhy he chose the time to do the demonstrations. He states that the Negro community had no alternative except to prepare
for direct action, since everything else has failed. That they can no longer wait that they have waited enough with no results. That he has come from Alabama to help, because it is here where the unjust is done, and that doesn’t only affect them, but it affects everyone and everywhere else as well.
Martin Luther King, Jr., uses many techniques that Marius exposes in Chapter 4. To begin, Marius states that we should have a good argument which we should be familiar and be able to expose and defend. Martin Luther King, Jr. uses the argument of
“Segregation”, which he is very well familiar with.
Secondly, Marius also states that we should have common premises, and Martin Luther King, Jr., does that by addressing them as his fellow clergymen. By this he is appealing to their duty of clergymen, and their love and acceptance of God of Judaism and Christianity.
Thirdly, Martin Luther King, Jr., uses Rhetorical device, so that the readers, in this case the clergymen, stop to think at all the questions that he has been addressing. He is
making them think when he exposes his questions. An example of this is that he
asks the question and then he explains the reasons. He addresses each of their concerns, why the demonstrations are just and timely and not untimely like they say. He informs them that although they waited for the right time, and kept postponing it, the right time never came and they couldn’t postpone it anymore.
“For the years now I have heard the words “Wait” It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never”.
Also, Martin Luther King, Jr. uses facts, information and events that have occurred to explain his point. He uses famous people or figures that people will not question their
ideas, like Socrates when he says “Is like condemning Socrates….. .. and is
like condemning Jesus ….”, who in their right mind would condemn either one. Also, he mentions figures like “Thomas Jefferson, Ralph McGill, Lilli Smith, Harry Golden and James Dabbs.”
In addition, another method that Marius indicated that we should use and that Martin Luther King, Jr., follows is the use of quotations to emphasize. Martin Luther King, Jr., uses quotations from important people to support his ideas and actions. Ex. What Abraham Lincoln said, “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.”
Furthermore, Martin Luther King, Jr., uses proper tone in his letter. He is strong
in his tone but not to the point of being insulting. He does not use sarcasm; instead he uses logic and ask for them to feel the same way about Segregation and what must be done
to stop it.
Moreover, he uses comparison a lot to explain his reasoning. Marius also states that comparison is good in order to make an argument. Ex. He compares what Hitler did in Germany and the Hungarian freedom fighters in Hungarian.
Lastly, as Marius concludes in that an argument cannot be made up of nothing, and that the writer must be honorable and treat your readers with respect. Martin Luther King, Jr., responds to the clergymen in a very respectful way and explains why the demonstrations were just and timely.
To conclude, Martin Luther King, Jr. , follows all the right techniques that Marius points in Chapter 4 to be productive. Martin Luther King, Jr. obtains the result that he is aiming when he writes the letter and due to that the “Leter from Birmingham City Jail” is famous and known by all.
In his letter, Martin Luther King, Jr., defends his actions and calls his fellow clergymen to support him because it is the right thing. He appeals to their good heart and conscious using persuasive language, proper tone, proper diction, facts and events to support his argument in a way that the clergymen see why he took the actions he took and support him.
Annie Dillard’s essay defies our expectations of what an essay should do, by not following the writing Principles, but her end result is effective and conveys her message to the reader. She connects her paragraphs in her essay by labeling them and putting numbers in the top of each paragraph. The numbers give it continuity, but in writing an essay we don’t need numbers, we just need to relate the paragraphs with each other, so the reader can follow it.
I guess that this is not a style of essay writing that we are used to reading or seeing, instead it seems that it wants to give us data, information or statistics.
The rule of writing an essay that has been taught, by Marius, and that Dillard defies is the use of Rhetorical Device. Marius’ rule is that you can use it, but don’t use it too much, because when you use it too much, you are not writing sentences, instead you are only asking questions. Dillard through out her essay asks many questions that make us stop and think. Dillard defies the Rhetorical Device, but is wise enough to use it intelligently to convey her message. Her use of questioning is effective and her essay does the job that Dillard wants, to put the reader to stop, think and analyze.
The argument Dillard exposes is that we are here today and gone tomorrow. In paragraph number six (VI), it details how archaeologists tried to preserve proof of three barefoot people walked on a moist volcanic tuff and ash. Dillard wants to know what those people were doing and what did they see before they died. Dillard uses the argument of life and death through her essay. She questions the reader, what was he/she doing when those events happened, when the people were killed, or died. That was our response
to those events. How many people believe that although one person dies, or
hundred, there are many more alive. Is that all we are? Are we only Statistic?
My feeling after reading this essay is that we must live to the fullest, appreciate everyone, and always do good. It is true, today we are here, tomorrow we might not, our bodies will be lost, but our deeds can be always be remembered. A life is precious and should always count.