top-rated free essay

Letter from Birmingham jail

By that1procrastinator Dec 12, 2013 622 Words

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s rejoinder to the clergymen, King sheds light on the clergymen’s earlier statement claiming that King was “untimely” and his being there was inconvenient to them. King opens his reply to their statement with a demonstration of downplay on the clergymen’s argument by calling their point “basic”, as if their idea was too underdeveloped for him. He does this to subtly attack the clergymen and make them see him as their equal, or even their superior. This sets the stage for the next paragraphs while also adding a sarcastic tone. This sarcasm is expressed through “We are sadly mistaken” which suggests the idea that it is sad that the clergymen cannot recognize why King is there. This subtle insult only makes King look better than his opposition, and it forces the clergymen to realize that they had been blunt. King then juxtaposes “gentle” with “segregationists” in order to call attention to the extreme difference between the two words. The clergymen would then realize that they themselves, however gentle, are segregationists and cannot be both at the same time. Dr. King then creates an analogy comparing morality to “light.” Not only does this analogy offer a strong comparison of morality to light, which can already be associated with good and pure, but light can also be considered religious. Kings shows a strong sense of audience by using strong religious allusions to appeal to the clergymen’s faith. He would only do this in order for the clergymen to realize that King is a person and their lord had created them as equals.

King transitions from his previously composed style to a more indignant and emotionally driven paragraph. He expresses this transition through his strong diction choices that include, “demanded”, “Frankly”, and “Never.” These powerful word choices are found in short, staccato sentences or independent clauses. King begins this transition with his first sentence. This sentence contains parallelism through “voluntarily given by the oppressor” which is parallel and juxtaposed to, “demanded by the oppressed.” King separated these two connected ideas into separate clauses in order to emphasize each part equally and independently. Dr. King then puts emphasis on the word “Wait” through repetition, “Wait” eventually turns into “Never” which is a stronger word choice with an increasingly negative connotation. King induces this transition to draw attention to the unjust underlying meaning of the word “Wait” and justify his position further by implying that if he had waited nothing would ever be done about the injustices in Birmingham.

Dr. King opens his fourteenth paragraph with appeals to patriotism (constitution), and appeals to religion (God). The clergymen are forced into the realization that they share interests with King. They would see that they share feelings of love toward their country and their God. Through this, they would feel that they are not hating a Negro, but a fellow man of God, a fellow citizen of the United States. King turns to deliver a massive sentence in an attempt to give the clergymen real examples of what happens to black citizens. In order to emphasize this idea King repeats “When you” and places it in front of every independent clause. King’s list of injustices that the ‘white man’ had yet to understand was created to induce a sense of overwhelming grief and guilt after empathy made the clergymen place themselves in the place of King. After his long, powerful sentence, King makes analogy comparing endurance to a cup. This analogy is not only a warning, but a way for King to tie himself to a group, a whole race, in order to drive in the idea that the oppressed will either be set free, or set themselves free.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Letter from Birmingham Jail

    ...Phillips 10:45-12:10 TR King Paper Letter from Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King Jr. wrote one of his most famous works while confined in a jail cell. He wrote this as a response to a statement written about him by eight Alabama clergymen. In the letter King uses many methods to convey his message about things going on in Alabama. King mai...

    Read More
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail

    ...Increasing Importance From Birmingham “A Letter From A Birmingham Jail” written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an amazing piece of writing that Dr. King wrote in response to a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen. The letter conceded that social injustices were taking place but expressed the belief that the battle against rac...

    Read More
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail

    ...Letter from Birmingham Jail and Thomas Jefferson Although the time periods and goals may be altered, the idea bringing about change is usually the same, this adjustment is protest. This method is accurate by two altered people, in two altered time periods, with two different goals; these two humans are Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King ...

    Read More
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail

    ...Akeem Harris Dr. Keith Huxen HIST 202 October 5, 2009 Letter From Birmingham Jail Analysis “Letter from Birmingham Jail: April 16, 1963” was written by Dr. Martin Luther King in response to published statements denouncing his non-violent protest in Birmingham, Alabama. The article, composed on scraps of paper, in the margins of t...

    Read More
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail

    ...Analysis: Letter from Birmingham Jail S- To state the reason Martin Luther King Jr. is in Birmingham for attempting to change segregation as social justice and his use of civil disobedience as an instrument of freedom. O- King was incarcerated for expressing his rights as a US citizen and now writes a letter to explain the injustice A- The Al...

    Read More
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail

    ...Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Mr. King uses many rhetorical situations and persuasive appeals. King writes this letter, in my opinion, to the audience of the American people. I feel the persuasive techniques, the structuring of the sentence and the content expressed was intended to force the American white ...

    Read More
  • letter from a birmingham jail

    ... Letter from a Birmingham Jail Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights leader, was put into jail after being part of the Birmingham campaign in April 1963. He was the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was asked by an Alabama group to come to Birmingham. He and members of his organization joined The Alabama Chri...

    Read More
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail Summary

    ...of MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail is a response to a statement that was published by eight clergymen from Alabama. He usually doesn’t respond to people’s criticisms of his activities because he would otherwise have no time to do constructive work. But since he feels that the cler...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.