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"Letter from Birmingham Jail" Literary Analys

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"Letter from Birmingham Jail" Literary Analys

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  • Feb. 6, 2013
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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” was written in 1963; during the time African Americans were fighting for equality among races. We can tell this by the vocabulary used in his writing such as “Negro,” which was used at one time, and is no longer considered, “politically correct. “ The purpose for the letter is that Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to convince the white clergymen that him and his “People’s” actions were completely unnecessary for the situation. When doing this, he uses critical and persuasive tones to try to influence the reader to agree with him. Martin Luther King Jr. provides a valid argument using logos, pathos, and ethos throughout his letter.

The use of comparison in Dr. King’s letter makes the African American’s trouble of segregation seems, just about holy. He compares being arrested for his peaceful but illegal actions to the crucifixion of Jesus for his “unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion.” Martin Luther King, Jr. ties himself to God by suggesting that above constitutional rights and legal laws are God-given rights, and these rights are the ones that he and his followers are supporting. He says that just laws, are laws that “Square with moral law or the law of God.” King resumes this religious association in his last paragraph, where he mentions blacks who conduct sit-ins as “children of God” who stand up for “the most scare Values in our Judeo-Christian heritage.” These similarities make Dr. King and his men seem to be fighting an almost heavenly cause, one that has the support of God and of history.

King also uses his voice through writing to educe emotion. Aside from his associations to God and Socrates, which may help religious readers better connect to his message, Martin Luther King Jr., writes about the emotional suffering that blacks went through due to segregation and prejudice. He replies to whites telling blacks to “wait” for desegregation by bringing up several murders...