A Letter From The Birmingham Jail

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The primary goal of a sermon in church is to convince or persuade the congregation to turn to God and follow his ways and beliefs. A sermon is commonly broken up into several subsections beginning with “(1) an introduction ‘to establish a common ground of religious feeling’; (2) ‘a statement of the text’ which is often drawn directly from the Bible; (3) the ‘body of the sermon,’ which consists of repeated emotional climaxes; and (4) the ‘conclusion’ which resolves the emotional tension aroused by the sermon by drawing the sinners to God.” (Pipes 143). Based on these characteristics and King’s religious background and experience as a preacher, it is logical to argue that the structure of “A Letter from the Birmingham Jail” resembles that of a sermon which is aimed at an audience much larger than that of just eight clergymen. Through his brilliant use of persuasive methods and emotional appeal, Martin Luther King turns a simple response to a letter into a national cause for white support to combat segregation. He begins his letter by stating that he is writing this letter “while confined here in the Birmingham City Jail” (King 2). However although one in such conditions for being wrongly convicted and forced to write this within small jail walls would be expected to be hostile, King’s tone is instead calm and patient. He addresses his attackers as “my dear fellow clergymen” (2). And even apologized that they expressed different opinions (3). This, to an open audience, gives

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