5 December 2014
Analysis of Why We Can’t Wait
In the 1960’s, America was a desolate and daunting environment for African Americans, or as Martin Luther King Jr. put it ‘negroes’. Life was poor in every direction for African Americans. They had little chance for success in life and acceptance among whites was not even fathomable. In the excerpt King uses emotive imagery, rhetorical questions, and historical allusion to persuade the audience to accept his point of view and to take action instead of waiting aimlessly for someone else to take initiative, hints the title Why Can’t We Wait. King effectively utilizes emotive imagery to appeal to the audiences emotion, while at the same time, creating a vivid picture of the grim circumstances that haunted African Americans in the 1960’s. He starts out with the brief but insightful summary of the life of a young ‘negro’ boy. King states “The stench of garbage is in the halls. The drunk, jobless, the junkies are shadow figures of his everyday world.” He uses this to appeal to the audience’s emotion by astutely pointing out how his life was of poor quality. This makes the reader more understanding and agreeable for when he gets into his main point.
Martin, in a refrained manner, uses rhetorical questions to bring his main point to light. He says “why does misery constantly haunt the Negro? ...had the forebears done some tragic injury to the nation”. This shows how unfortunate the ‘negro’ population was, and for what? King, despite the fact that he knows the answer, asks what was so wrong about African Americans that they
deserved this type of treatment. This also uses logos, because the audiences will think that King’s argument did nothing wrong. This, in turn, further persuades the audience to accept his point of view and be more amenable to persuasion. ...
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