Letter from Birmingham Jail; Rhetorical Analysis

1612 words 7 pages
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Use of the Rhetoric Triangle Every writer has some sort of drive when writing a piece of work. Whether that drive comes from a creative source or the need to prove a point, it exists. For Martin Luther King Jr. that drive was the need to put an end to racial injustice that seemed to be everywhere. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is a perfect example. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was King’s response to eight clergymen’s “A Call for Unity.” His drive came from the clergymen’s unjust propositions and accusations. This letter allowed King to not only propose a rebuttal but to justify his own civil disobedience, as well as explain the indecency of racial segregation. Throughout his letter, King …show more content…
Or rather, the lack of obedience. However, by laws he did not exactly mean state or city laws having to do with material objects or taxes, in fact, he was speaking about laws that degraded the human being. He was speaking of moral laws. “You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws.” (Par. 15) This opening sentence leads to King’s explanation about morals and types of laws: just and unjust. “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others? The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust.”(Par. 15) In this paragraph specifically, King is the ‘preacher’ and he is preaching about his ideas [morals] on what he considers a just and unjust law. He gives us a look into his ethics and rationalizations using reason to give examples when a law can or can not be broken. He leads into a quote by St. Augustine “An unjust law is no law at all” (Par. 15) His strict moral and church based outlook shows how moral this man really was. In turn it helps establish ethos that much more evidently because statements like these make King seem full of integrity. Another great paragraph that ethos can be distinctly found in is paragraph 20.
I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly,

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