The works of Martin Luther King and Susie Orbach share the common theme of human activism. The prominence of the two personalities was realized almost at the same time, a period between 1960s and 1970s. However, King was concerned with the emancipation of the Black Americans while Susie was engraved on gender fights. I have a dream by Martin Luther King and Fat is Feminist Issues are among the works of the iconic figures, which have resonated the world to date.
A letter from Birmingham Jail, was written by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, while serving an eighty-days jail sentence in Birmingham. It was during this time when African Americans were actively against racial inequality. King’s language defines this time and racial identity by use of such words as “negro.” His letter is condemnatory and persuasive piece aimed at convincing every reader, especially, the clergyman that his course is justified. This paper is a summary of King’s and Orbach’s pieces through analysis of their rhetorical devices such as Logos, Ethos, and Pathos as condemnatory and persuasive tools.
Why direct action? King uses logos as a counterargument tool against the clergyman. He starts by supporting the fact that the people “had no alternative except to prepare for direct action.” He coins several logical fallacies, religious and historical evidences to justify this. He logically appeals to authorities when he refers to Thomas Jefferson, a person highly respected and says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” He also refers to Mr. Boutwell to see the state of the nation. While the clergyman believes Martin is crossing the path of justice course, he asserts that “but more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.” Martin justifies their action by stating that the Negro’s wait for their own rights is long overdue he says, “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights” (King 1). Orbach has successfully appealed to her audience logically.
Orbach cites fats as inevitable source of greed. She believes that women’s fatness is attributed to gender inequality. She says “for many women, compulsive eating and being fat have become one way to avoid being marketed or seen as the ideal woman." According to the writer, women prefer to developed fats as a revolt stereotypical feminism. She says, “fats express a rebellion against the powerlessness of the woman." According to the author, when women assume their rounded shapes, they gain some respect in the society as compared with when they reduce their bodies. King as well effectively applies pathos in his speech.
Orbach and Martin also apply knowledge, reasons and moral concepts. Martin applies the pathos in various practical examples. He proves that the “Negro” has waited enough knowing that the clergyman will claim that they impatience. Orbach direct her claims to all women. She talks from the position of a woman who has suffered from the condition. She bases her reason from personal experiences and justifies her decision to walk the challenging path (Orback 450). The Birmingham letter is directed to all American, black or white, he believes the situation of the blacks affects the white counterparts equally. He says, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” With a lot of empathy, Martin asserts that many people have lost hope in the government. He develops a deep emotional appeal when he states, “our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us.” He figuratively develops a story on how it is difficult to explain to colored children why they cannot go to amusement parks.
Ethical appeal characterizes both the literary pieces. King appeals to the American society as an authoritative figures whom renowned international individuals inspire work. He is keen to inform the authorities to understand the difference between the legal and illegal actions. Based on the situation at the times, Martin describes what is legal and illegal with contrasting valid examples. He says, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal,” this point is well elaborated for any ready to understand. He is reasonable to state that the use of active action is mandatory. He also identifies his actions with philosophers such as Socrates to justify his course of action and to help those in authorities come up with good decision. Martin himself is an authoritative figure, a religious leader, an activist, and an orator that was well known in America.
Susie Orbach on the other hand was also a respected national figure. Her credibility and appeal emanated from her professional background. She was the chairperson of the Relational School in the United Kingdom. She was actively involved with Anybody, a body that struggled for diversity. She was an author who published several books including bestselling such as Bodies published in 2009, On Eating of 2002, and the Fat is Feminist issue (1978). She has worked in various portfolios as an author and a therapist on women issues. She became an advisor to Princess Diana, at a time when the princess suffered bulimia. Susie became a television figure, an influential position in the society. Finally, she became a consultant with the United Kingdom Health Service (Orback 450).
King, Luther. A Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963.
Orback, Susie. Fat is Feminist Issues, 1978.