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.

 

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Influences on Judgement

Every day we constantly pass judgement and withhold judgement on the world and those within it, often subconsciously. The Great Gatsby, a fiction novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, focuses on what causes the nature of our judgements. Fitzgerald suggests in his work that our perception is very easily influenced and shaped by our environment. Almost every character in The Great Gatsby supports this claim, however Nick Carraway is the prime example of this, as he undergoes a change in judgement, escaping the influences of his high class relatives Tom and Daisy Buchanan and falling under the influence of Gatsby.

While everyone has their own opinions on what is moral and right, there are certain aspects of life in which there are clear lines. Adultery, for example, is considered a sin to many and frowned upon by others. However, depending on who has done the deed, we may judge them more harshly or leniently. When the reader learns of Tom’s mistress in chapter one, Nick’s narrative experiences no pause, there is no questioning the morality of Tom’s actions, “‘Tom’s got some woman in New York.’ ‘Got some woman?’ I repeated blankly.” Through this plain response of Nick’s, Fitzgerald shows how easily influenced we are by the ideals of the social classes we are raised in. Later in the book, Nick helps Gatsby and Daisy form an affair, never questioning the morals of his actions. “‘He wants to know,’ continued Jordan, ‘if you’ll invite Daisy to your house some afternoon and then let him come over.’” It is unclear why Nick would agree to this, perhaps he really believed there was nothing odd or amusing about both Tom and Daisy cheating on each other, however it is more likely it was the kind of world he grew up in that taught him this was ok. If the environment we are placed in shapes our character so greatly as it did Nick’s, we must ask ourselves how much of our personality is truly our’s rather than our surroundings that have rubbed off on us.

It is difficult to rank specific degrees of wrongdoing; yet, we judge others for committing sins more harshly than we judge ourselves because of our surroundings. Tom’s harsh opinion of Gatsby is greatly based on the assumption that he is new money, and therefore less entitled or powerful as Tom is. There is a complete lack of regard for whether or not this is a worse crime than Tom’s own decisions, as Tom’s high class and sense of superiority convince him that Gatsby’s money is worthy of judgement. “‘Who is this Gatsby anyhow?’ demanded Tom suddenly. ‘Some big bootlegger?’ ‘Where’d you hear that?’ I enquired. ‘I didn’t hear it. I imagined it. A lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers, you know.’” p.69. Tom is surrounded by people just like him—old money, as they like to call it—who cheat just like him, yet Gatsby’s form is cheating is worse simply because it is different. Through this judgement, Fitzgerald suggests that part of our judgement of others stems from how similar they are to us and our upbringing. On page 67, when the pretty lady invites Gatsby to supper out of politeness, Gatsby does not realize that they do not actually want him to come, nor do they respect him. “‘My God, I believe that man’s coming,’ said Tom. ‘Doesn’t he know she doesn’t want him?’” Tom’s statement shows just how superior they all felt towards Gatsby, and this is only because Gatsby is of a different world than them. This type of judgement is ever present in our lives, with certain people feeling entitled because of the color of their skin and other physical or material aspects of life.

Throughout the whole book, Nick is always withholding judgement on all of Tom and Daisy’s actions, while constantly judging Gatsby, until the end. His change of heart is thanks to his change in environment, specifically to Gatsby for pulling him out from the hazy old rich society. “I found myself on Gatsby’s side, and alone.” p.104. This sudden shift is also thanks to the fact that Tom and Daisy, the biggest influences on Nick second to Gatsby, skipped town and were no longer there to influence Nick so strongly. Nick not only chooses a side in his friendships, he experiences a complete shift in his view of the world; seeing it as dreary and hopeless, “… I began to have a feeling of defiance, of scornful solidarity between Gatsby and me against them all.” p.105. This quote does an especially good job displaying how Gatsby has transformed Nick’s perspective to more cynical, as Nick describes “them all,” his friends and possibly everyone else, with such a hateful tone. Just like anyone, Nick cannot be free of the influences of his surroundings, but he can change his surroundings in order to change his view of the world and the people in it. Even though not all characters are able to escape their societal influences, such as Daisy who chooses Tom’s money over Gatsby’s love, Nick’s ability to do so proves just how influential the people around us can be on how we judge others.

Judgement is a constant throughout the Great Gatsby and life itself. Almost every interaction contains positive and/or negative judgements; rarely do we completely lack any opinion on a subject. Through The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald proves to his readers how little we can sincerely claim these judgements as our own. Every way we turn we will find an influencing factor: the internet, music, advertisements, friends. Similar to the characters of The Great Gatsby, we often pass judgement that is morally wrong and withhold judgement, saying nothing, when there is a better, more moral course of action. Now, if we want to be moral and good, which is not always so easily defined, the first step would be to ask ourselves what our perspective has been shaped by the next time we find ourselves judging something.

 

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)

The Quest for Wisdom

There is a debate on whether going on a quest is necessary to find wisdom. I needed the definition of both wisdom and quest before I could answer the question. Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise and a quest is described as a long or arduous search for something. One has to consider that a quest does not necessarily mean one is traveling places, but it is clear that a quest has a specific goal. Because of this, I believe that wisdom is accessible if one is in search of it.

I think one needs to know that they want wisdom in order to be eligible to acquire it. Most of my thoughts are influenced by the book Siddhartha written by Herman Hesse. Saying this, one cannot forget that they seek wisdom either, or even enlightenment as Siddhartha did when he settled into the world of wealth and vanity; “Like a veil, like a thin mist, weariness settled upon Siddhartha, slowly, every day a bit thicker, every month a bit drearier, every year a bit heavier…Siddhartha did not notice this. He noticed only that his clear and certain innermost voice, which once had been awake inside him and always and ever guided him during his times of resplendence, that voice had gone silent.” (p.63) This passage expresses how when Siddhartha strayed from his journey, his quest to wisdom and enlightenment, he became ignorant to the fact that he was straying at all. This is why it is important to never stray from one’s quest, one cannot attain wisdom if they forget that wisdom is what they want.

One’s quest for wisdom must be a specific one. Dwelling on your past fails or focusing on your past triumphs will not help you go forward. Even if the sun is setting behind you, you must keep walking into the darkness, with the knowledge that the sun will rise in the morning, an unattainable destination you try to reach every day. This is something Siddhartha does, an example would be on p.69: “Siddhartha roamed the forest, already far away from the city, with but one thought in mind, that he could no longer return. that the life he had been leading for many years was over and done, savored and sucked dry even to revulsion.” Here he leaves his ignorant wealth and ignorant pleasure garden and ignorant self behind, knowing it will do him no good to remember.

The quest for wisdom is also unique in that it is one’s own, personal quest. No two people can be on the same quest at the same time, no two people can realize their wisdom or become enlightened together. Finding wisdom is a quest for one person, and one person only. “One can find wisdom, one can live it, one can be borne by it, one can work wonders with it, but one can neither speak it nor teach it.” (p.111) This is something Siddhartha realized after many years of

searching for an enlightenment through the ascetics and shramana and teachings of the Gautama, after many years of disappointment.

This is why a quest is so essential to find wisdom, Siddhartha was a perfect example for many reasons. Wisdom is not something that can be taught to anyone, it is only granted to those who teach themselves, it is not something one can focus on if their mind is on the past, it is only attainable when it is the only goal. These are things the book helped me realize, and knowing that a quest doesn’t necessarily mean one has to go on an adventure also helped.