Rhetorical Analysis of George Wallace’s Inaguaral Address

In his 1963 inaugural address, George Wallace appeals to his audience’s white supremacist values, uses his authority as governor and a christian, and uses logical statements to form a compelling argument that segregation is justified and should be continued. His speech does a great job getting his message across to his audience of religious, white Alabamians, of whom he is their new governor.

Wallace immediately ties his argument to the founding fathers, stating “This is the great freedom of our American founding fathers.” By saying that the founding fathers would agree that segregation is a good idea, he gives his argument authority. This makes it easier for his audience to agree with him as he can prove to them that his claims are justified and have been supported since the very start of the United States. Every time he uses religious reasoning, he is adding further authority to his argument because he is able to claim that God is on his side, and therefore his way is the only way. This works because his audience is made up of evangelical southern Christians, who will readily trust someone who believes in the same God as them. On page eleven, Wallace references multiple influential southerners, and by doing these he borrows their glory. He creates a connection between himself, and more importantly, his argument, and southerners that his audience looks up to. Near the very end of his speech, Wallace begins using personal pronouns that enforce his authority because he is speaking for himself as Governor. He states “I shall ‘Stand up for Alabama,’ as Governor of our State…” which does a good job of reminding his audience of the high position he holds over them, while still making him appear humble and “of” the people.

George Wallace’s use of “if, then” statements give his argument a logical flow that makes it easier for the audience to understand and support. On page nine he mentions that if they become more like communists, then they will lose the enrichment and freedom that they currently experience in their lives. By providing this clear connection between a common enemy and an unpleasant future, Wallace makes it easy for his audience to see the why segregation is the most beneficial for everyone. His biggest appeal to logic occurs on page ten, when he references their southern ancestors and how they reacted to hardships. More simply, he is stating that if their grandfathers didn’t need communism to triumph through the hardships of reconstruction, then communists today should be doing the same hard work that the south’s ancestors did. This works especially well to convince his audience because it also appeals to their southern pride; it is more than just a logical flow of thought. He also references numerical data on page ten, and by just saying “public FBI record” he makes his argument appear more factual than it actually may be. However minimal, his use of facts does its job to make his argument appear factually sound. His audience will be more easily convinced if they believe that there are facts supporting his opinions.

Wallace’s most effective strategies are his appeals to southern pride and white supremacist ideals. He knows his Alabamian audience very well, and uses their religion as a way to connect with them as well. When Wallace states “This is the basic heritage of my religion, of which I make full practice…for we are all the handiwork of God.” he is using their common values as Christians to not only justify his argument, but to appeal to the religious members of his audience who will greatly appreciate his references to God. He references the south’s struggle for reconstruction after the civil war in order to appeal to his audience’s southern pride. His description of their hard work is very timely as he is able to make a clear connection to the current question of communism and the different views on how to help those who are struggling. Southerners are very proud people and hearing Wallace talk about and share their heritage with them encourages a connection between the audience and the speaker. He does this again when quoting Rudyard Kipling, “‘There in the Southland… lives the greatest fighting breed of man… in all the world!’” This only enforces their boundless pride in themselves and their history, solidifying their belief that their views are the most righteous. They will be more convinced that segregation is justified when they are reminded by Wallace how the south has always been in the right. On page eleven he repeatedly uses the words “us” and “we” when discussing their duty as southerners. These terms unify his audience and even suggest the age-old ideal of the white man’s burden. He convinces his audience that it is their duty as citizens of Alabama to take control of the current political “crisis.” These references to current events make his audience feel important and empowered, such as when he says “..let us not fail in this…our most historical moment.” The more powerful Wallace can make his audience feel, the more willing they will be to take heed to his advice and make the changes they want to see.

George Wallace has created a very convincing pro-segregation, “equal, but separate,” argument using his authority, appealing to his audience’s emotions and common values, and making reasonable, logical statements. The state of Alabama surely responded positively to their new governor thanks to his compelling and motivating speech.


Analyzing Michelle Obama’s Political Rhetoric

In her speech campaigning for democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, Michelle Obama uses multiple effective strategies in order to convince the audience of her message: that as women, they must be ready to go to work in order to have a desirable outcome for the upcoming presidential election. This message is especially important to the topics of her speech, including Donald Trump’s treatment of women and the tape of Trump’s words released just days before her speech. Her use of contrasting diction, as well as her use of repetition, and parallel structure magnify the importance of the message she delivered this October 13th.

In the very beginning, she appeals to the audience with her word choice, warming them up to her, and she does this by saying “I am so thrilled to be here with you all,” and “this is like home to me.” She continues to follow a theme of contrasting diction throughout the rest of her speech. She starts by using negative words, such as “obscene,” “basic human decency,” and “violation” when describing Trump and his actions; imposing the feeling of anger towards Trump. By describing his actions with negative diction, she also creates unity between herself and her target audience: women, they are women facing degradation and abuse, together. However, her tone shifts on page 3, as this is when she starts describing Clinton, and everything she stands for. Mrs. Obama poses an uplifting tone, choosing words such as “heal wounds,” “meaningful,” and “successful” which promotes positivity throughout the audience. These two contrasting halves work to first unite the audience towards a common goal, enraging them with her negative diction; then directs their feelings towards something productive, she calls the audience to action, leaving them feeling positive and uplifted with her word choice.

Repetition drastically helped Mrs. Obama drive her points home. On page two, she repeats the words “we” and “we are” consistently. This brings the audience to feel a connection with her; they are grouped together in Michelle Obama’s “we,” they are united. Later, on page four, she repeats familial words and concepts, such as “our children,” “our kids,” “us parents,” and other phrases along those lines. This not only unites the audience as parents, it touches their emotions and their instinct to protect their children. So by mentioning kids, and what it means to be a parent, the first lady plants ideas in the minds of the parents in the audience: that protecting their children, their daughters, means voting for Hillary. Then again on the first page, she repeats phrases like “at the White House,” and “as First Lady” which provide the audience with a reminder of her authority, encouraging their respect and trust, willing them to accept her message and take action with little resistance.

Mrs. Obama’s use of parallel structure is another vital aspect of her argument. On the fourth page, the fifth paragraph consists of sentences that all start with the uniting third person plural: “We have knowledge. We have a voice. We have a vote… We as women, we as Americans, we as decent human beings can come together…” adds emphasis to the fact that the audience and the speaker are together as one. Despite Michelle Obama’s clear authority, she includes the audience which makes them feel important, which in turn makes them willing to do what she asks them to. On the last page, she structures the last paragraph with consecutive questions. This gets the audience’s attention, and the rhetorical nature of her questions encourages her audience to get up on their feet and do what she’s asking them to do.

The contrasting diction in her speech gives Mrs. Obama the power to guide her audience to agree to her requests without question, while also giving her authority. Her repetition of words and ideas strengthens her message, and also adds a lasting effect to the messages she wants them to remember. Lastly, with the use of parallel sentence structure, Michelle Obama is able to create powerful statements that flow in such a way that it draws the audience in. All of these aspects help Mrs. Obama put together an effective argument to convince her audience to take action, knock on doors, and do their best to make a difference in the election.

Savage Happiness

Formally stated, Newton’s third law of motion is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law can easily be applied to everyday life. If we lived in a world with a sun never hidden from us, by storm clouds or other means, we would be incapable of knowing what a “clear” day is. To us, it would just be “A Day,” indifferent to us and everything else. In Brave New World, there is a civilized society in which no one experiences sadness. They are civilized, and they are happy, therefore they experience civilized happiness. What of the rest of us? I experience both sadness and happiness; in some instances, the emotion is so strong I forget I am capable of feeling the other. Experiencing sadness is the prerequisite to gratitude. We need opposing forces in our lives. Happiness is one thing, but gratitude for that happiness is arguably more important than the emotion itself. This is called savage happiness.

Brave New World defines individual happiness by the ability to satisfy needs. Whether the need be physical, mental, or sexual, any and all needs are instantaneously met with easy solutions such. It sounds like the perfect situation but the question still arises, is it genuine? To achieve this, all the civilized humans sacrificed their ability to recognize beauty, to feel love, to know God. Surviving while remaining “happy” is what they do. That is not real living. We live through experience, not by satisfying our needs. We need the struggle in order to recognize peace. It’s all a balance between opposing forces, one constant force is impossible. We can’t be grateful if we don’t have a reason to be.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World defines communal happiness by the ability to achieve perfection. Perfection is the condition of being as free as possible from all flaws and defects. They accomplish this by sacrificing families, mothers, fathers, instead fertilizing eggs in tubes and pre-determining the life of each individual. This makes life more efficient, because children are raised and conditioned by the state, eliminating all conflict that is derived from opinion, because everyone has the same opinions on everything. However, in our world we think for ourselves, we have original thoughts, and that is unquestionably a better way of living. Conflict can be healthy in terms of debates and constructive criticism, one person’s idea of “perfection” eliminating these things all together. We can’t be grateful if we don’t have conflict to remind us to be grateful.

The balance that we need and rely on so much is not present in Brave New World. We are savage, and this savagery is defined as uncivilized, both in the novel Brave New World and in our world. The novel goes on to define a savage as someone who accepts the right to be unhappy, the right to have cancer, the right to love and be loved, the right to be “one of us,” so to speak. We have the right to be savage, however in Brave New World, it is only a privilege. We are allowed to have science, to have Newton’s laws which in turn apply to every aspect of living. So yes, our world isn’t brave, isn’t new, but it’s real, and it’s savage. We are all savages following Newton’s laws of motion by feeling happiness, sadness, and a plethora of other emotions that don’t even have names. Our individual ability to experience life is much more valuable than ever-lasting happiness, more valuable than perfection. We all experience savage happiness, and we should hope that that doesn’t change.

Surviving Death

Dying once is enough for most, Malinalli on the other hand, had to die over and over again. At the very start of her life she proved she could survive anything. Her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and mouth, serpent-like, representing the god Quetzalcoatl. She died at the age of five when her mother sold her heart’s freedom for much less than one pays for quetzal feathers. She was reborn as Marina, and then Marina died when she met Cortes, and La Malinche was born in the hands of Cortes. Malinalli stayed alive within Marina, La Malinche, The Tongue. Malinalli remained herself in every new life she was thrown in.

firstMother knows best, that’s what everyone always says, but when your mother thinks she should sell you as a slave because your dad died, maybe Grandmother knows best. Malinalli’s abuela remained her sanity, her happiness. She saw at the start of Malinalli’s life that she would be a survivor for the rest of her time, as she “sensed that the girl was destined to lose everything so that she might gain everything.,” on page 5. Her grandmother saw even more without the use of her eyes, and she was right when she saw that Malinalli would experience great losses in order to experience true happiness. Malinalli’s first loss was her freedom, but she survived with the help of her gods, and the morning star. “From the time they had first given her away as a very young girl, Malinalli had learned to conquer the fear of the unknown by relying on the familiar, on the brilliant star that would appear at her window…” It is evident page 19 that after experiencing loss, Malinalli can gain the skills to survive it, and she often times already has the skills thanks to her all-knowing abuela.

secondAs La Malinche travels to Tenochtitlan, silent and uncomplaining, she uses her survival skills, and draws out Malinalli from her soul. “Migration is an act of survival,” that is what Malinalli’s grandmother said to her when admiring butterflies on page 92. Malinalli remembers this when she needs it most, when she is suffering from hypothermia and is about to witnesses horrible death. Malinalli is always migrating, be it from slave owner to slave owner, or with Cortes, conquering alongside him. She becomes one of the butterflies her abuela took her to see, changing names, creating cocoons for herself, born into a new life each time, surviving. Migrating involves leaving everything behind, or as her abuela predicted, losing everything, leaving behind a life, in turn for eventually, a better one.

CaptureThe better life, the one The Tongue was always translating for, the one La Malinche helped Cortes for, the one Malinalli finally got, with Jaramillo, her husband, and Maria and Martin. It is this life that Malinalli finally, once again herself as she was as a child, allowed herself to die in. This life, finally full of all the happiness she lost, is the one that allowed Malinalli to be one with the gods, the elements, the stars. “Her spirit became one with the water. It scattered in the air. Her skin expanded to the limit, allowing her to change shape and become one with everything that surrounded her…She abandoned this world.” Only a survivor can avoid death for so long, then to choose when they do leave world, as Malinalli did on page 185.

Sold into slavery by her own mother, given no other options but to help Cortes, translated for the ruler who demands sacrifice and blood-shed, and thought of with shame in one’s heart, through La Malinche, Malinalli survived. Malinalli was born in such a way that it was clear that she would have to lose everything to gain everything, and she did, many times, over and over. Such feats only a survivor could live through, and one day die through, and throughout it all, “Malinalli saw clearly that she had lost nothing, that there was no reason to fear…” (p. 27)