Tone and Writing Technique of "Letter from Birmingham Jail"

876 Words Nov 13th, 2012 4 Pages
Tone and Writing Technique of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Many times, disagreements fail to bring an understanding to opposing sides because each side has different views on the subject at hand. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attempts to establish an adequate definition of “just” and “unjust” laws. King knew he could not directly argue his beliefs of segregation because the clergymen made clear they were not impressed with anti-segregationists breaking the law. He knew in order to make a valid rebuttal he could not cause confrontation. What is most interesting about the letter is the style of writing King uses to argue for righteousness which compels the reader to share his views of anti-segregation. …show more content…
He explains how, despite constant efforts, they cannot get their rights recognized so they must break these “unjust” laws. In paragraph eleven King declares, “the Southern lands have been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.” With this statement King paints a picture that portrays a land of injustice and unequal opinion. By saying “the Southern lands” King is specifying that it is not just African Americans who are experiencing hardships, which makes the reader realize that the entire South, not just a single race, feels these problems. King wants the reader to see that if the entire South is in a standoff of justice then there is a good possibility that some laws are unjust and need to be changed. King quotes St. Augustine in paragraph fifteen, saying “an unjust law is no law at all.” Using this quote adds strength to his views, implying that St. Augustine would support him if he were still alive. He then states “all segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality” (para 16). After this begins King’s use of examples of how Christians broke unjust laws because of their beliefs in God. He reminds readers that civil disobedience “was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar”(para 21). He then goes on to another instance saying civil disobedience “was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to

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