What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July Rhetorical Devices

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Frederick Douglass, a runaway slave and black abolitionist, delivered his speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” to emphasize the hypocrisy of Independence Day in America. Douglass’s purpose was to gain support from the group of people who have yet to choose one side or the other by pointing out the hypocrisy in the idea of freedom when only a fraction of Americans were truly free. He adopts a frustrated tone in order to convey to America, especially abolitionists, the mistreatments that slaves receive in the South and the lack of change. First, Douglass opens his speech by using rhetorical questions meant to make his listeners think about what the Fourth of July means to not only them but slaves as well. Douglass develops ethos …show more content…
In this part of his speech he uses antithesis to show the contrast in how people living in America experience freedom. Douglass continues to build on his ethos appeal; he again establishes that he is capable of empathizing with the slaves by siding with the slaves and separating himself from the white. He says, “The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn” (286). When he said these words, he is presenting the contrasts between whites and blacks and how they are treated in America. The slaves are denied basic rights, such as the right to learn and read, and are physically beat with whips. Douglass alludes to the whippings when he uses the word stripes in the above quote; The stripes refer to the marks that are left after being whipped. He hopes that by sharing his views, which he bases on personal experience and observation, neutral parties will finally come to his side and help put an end to slavery. Antithesis affects the tone by adding a sense of annoyance to his already frustrated tone. This tone is especially present when he uses you and I to refer to whites and mine and yours to refer to blacks. His underlying feelings shine through with his emphasis on these words. It upsets him that some people have freedoms and independence while others, including him, do not. His emphasis is made clear because these pronouns are in italics. His audience is affected by antithesis because a large portion of his audience, blacks, can relate to what he is saying and the way he is saying it. The slaves completely understand what he is saying because they live it all day, every day. He also provides insight for the whites so they can understand on a deeper level how the slaves

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