January 24, 2013
In the letter, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written by Martin Luther King, Jr., was written while king was in jail for being a part of the Birmingham Campaign, which was a non-violent protest to end segregation in the U.S. In the letter, King explain that he is disappointed in the clergy for attacking the members of the African American non-violent civil rights movement and that direct action is the only thing left for them to do. He goes on to say that he hopes “the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away.” In this letter, King has a very effective argument by using several different persuasive appeals.
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He says that he, “sees tears swelling up in her eyes,” and sees, “ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in their little mental sky” (par 14). The fact that King is talking about children is already appealing to our emotions. It makes the reader have a sense of innocence and vulnerability that the children have. When King explains that he sees “tears swelling up in their eyes,” it makes the reader feel sympathy for the children and obviously, sadness. He creates a mental picture in our heads of darkness and sadness and again, the innocence and vulnerability of the children by saying “ominous clouds,” and “their little mental sky.” Although this example of pathos makes the reader feel tribulation and heartache, pathos can also make the reader feel different types of emotions as well.
Towards the end of the letter, King shows another appeal to the emotions, but this emotional appeal does not make the reader feel sadness or sorrow. For instance, he says that he hopes the “dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away,” and “the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities” (par 50). King’s use of figurative language gives the reader a mental image in their head of dark clouds literally passing away through the sky resulting in making them feel happy and hopeful that the circumstances will soon clear up. He also uses words like “drenched” to make the reader visualize someone being covered or full of fear but having the “deep fog of misunderstanding” being lifted for their shoulders. King then goes on to say that, “the...