In Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," his thoughts and ideas are directly stated, well expressed, explained, and illustrated. King's style of writing gives the reader a clear glimpse into the world with which he struggled and allows his letter to be powerfully effective.
In the introductory paragraph, King introduces his reason for writing the letter and details who the audience is to be. He explains that he rarely answers criticisms and gives his reasons for answering this particular one. This grabs the reader's attention in the first three sentences of the letter and establishes the importance of the document, intriguing the reader to keep reading what becomes a gripping and moving letter.
During the course of King's writing, one of his strong points is his ability to take the words of his oppressors, discredit them or explain why their ideas aren't plausible, convey his ideas, and detail exactly why and how they will work. In the sixth paragraph, King rebukes those who "deplore the demonstrations that are currently taking place in Birmingham," as they are only dealing with the effect and not recognizing the cause for the demonstrations, then clarifies that the white power left the Negro community no other choice. In the next paragraph, King spells out the four basic steps of any non-violent demonstration. Breaking it down even more, he gives an example of each step in the Birmingham situation. King gave the reader an easy to follow step by step account of a non-violent protest that let the reader understand the careful planning of each step.
An effective if not intended technique of King's is his countless source of quotes from past respectable people w...
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... freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America." This statement unwaveringly rings loud and clear and still inspires hope in confidence in the reader this many years later. Closing with such a statement destroys all illusion of fear and ends the letter with a confidence that makes everything the audience read shine and remain imprinted on the mind.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" is a very effective letter. Through an intriguing opening, his ability to discredit his oppressor's words and create detailed yet clear responses, effectively integrate the quotes and examples of others to help illustrate his points, his descriptive logical and emotional appeals and his strong, confident closing, King created a letter that is powerful enough to provoke thoughts inside any person that reads it.
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