Ethos, And Logos In James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time

1343 Words 6 Pages
For as long as there have been opinions, people have been trying to deduce ways to convince others of their viewpoint. Over time, these strategies have been condensed into what is now known as rhetoric, which is defined as the art of effective or persuasive speaking and writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques. Rhetoric as a whole can be condensed into three categories: ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos, which is the greek word for “character”, can be thought of as the author/speaker 's credibility outside of the text, i.e. their credentials in the area they are speaking about. Pathos, which is the greek word for “suffering”, is defined as the author 's appeal to the reader 's emotions, sympathies, and …show more content…
Like Dr. King, Baldwin uses pathos to appeal to the reader’s sense of emotion and imagination. “I know how black it looks today, for you. It looked bad that day, too, yes, we were trembling. We have not stopped trembling yet, but if we had not loved each other none of us would have survived” (Baldwin, 17). Baldwin uses descriptive adjectives to describe the somber atmosphere. He is describing what the world was like shortly after his nephew’s birth, saying that they were (and still are) trembling, but have not stopped trembling. Them not stopping equates to not giving up in the fight for equality. Pathos works in “The Fire Next Time” to establish a mental image of what the world used to be like for Baldwin’s nephew, which worked to help him conceptualize how far society has come, and how far it still has to …show more content…
Dr. King addresses the entire white moderate, while Baldwin’s original intended audience was his nephew. However, despite their audiences and different rhetorical strategies, they are able to get their points across. “And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it. For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become” (Baldwin, 21). Baldwin concludes his essay with a call to arms, similar to Dr. King’s: “I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom” (King,

Related Documents