James Baldwin: Tone Essay

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Tone: James Baldwin

After reading the powerful essay “We Can Change the Country” by James Baldwin and listening to Martin Luther Kings revolutionary 'I Have A Dream' speech, I have come to learn that the tone of both these men are completely different, yet they both get their message across. In Baldwins insightful essay, the reader is quickly exposed to this negative and straight forward tone, where as in Kings speech, the audience is exposed to a more respectful, yet strong tone. Both Baldwin and King chose their diction very carefully, therefore establishing their individual tone. Baldwin's blunt and straight forward choice of words in simply his introduction set the informal and conversational tone for the entire essay. The way he uses for example, Santa Clause and murder, two words that seem to have nothing to do with one another, in the same sentence, do a good job of making his statement strong and clear. For him to also speak so boldly about the F.B.I. and used words like “nigger” and “revolution” make his essay more straight forward. The fact that he then uses rhetorical questions, creates this conversational tone in the essay. He wants his audience to think about what he's saying, he wants them to respond. In contrast with Martin Luther King who, by also using specific words, creates this sense of authority, we see a more formal point of view. Even though King uses a lot of metaphors and words like “negro” his tone is still very formal and not that conversational. When viewing the similarities and differences of Baldwins blunt and informal essay with Kings more formal and not so straight forward speech, we can see how they both set different tones to get their very similar message across to their audience. They both stated how the African American community needed to unite and change their country. Both men used powerful diction to convey that message, and even though they had different styles, their goal of having people listen was achieved. The...
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