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Rhetorical Analysis of Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman"

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Lucy Beeler

on 27 November 2012

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Transcript of Rhetorical Analysis of Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman"

Rhetorical Analysis of Sojourner Truth's Ain't I a Woman This speech was given by Sojourner Truth in the year of 1851. It was given at the Women's Rights Convention... ...in Akron, Ohio. Sojourner Truth gave her speech to address her views on women's rights and to advocate equal rights of men and women everywhere. Specifically the rights of African American women Truth accomplished this by utilizing the rhetorical devices of... Plain Folk, pathos, logos, ethos, allusion, juxtaposition, anaphora, and pinpointing the enemy. Plain Folk Sojourner Truth was born in 1797 as a slave. She lived on a New York Estate and was beaten and mistreated like many other slaves at the time. She later ran away from the estate
when her master failed to obey the
New York Anti-Slavery Law of 1827. Truth uses her upbringing
as a slave in her speech by... Using slang and informal words such as... "Seen" and "Honey" Truth also uses illiterate phrases like “But what’s all this here talking about?” and "Ain't I a woman?" This use of causal language shows that Truth is a “plain folk.” It helped the African American audience members who were also connected with slavery feel a link with Truth. Pathos As a slave, Truth bore many children
with another slave named Thomas. “I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me!” This segment of the speech connects with all of the mothers in the audience. It allows them to connect on a deep emotional level with not only the African American mothers... ...but the white mothers as well. This joining of white and black together makes
her speech appeal to a greater audience. Logos “Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman?” This section of the speech appeals to the men in the audience. It compares what the average white American man
does and what the average African American woman does. The similarities between the two enforce the idea that women in America are just as worthy of respect and deserve to have the same rights as men. Ethos “If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours hold a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?” or in simpler terms... If the men have so much power already, could they not let women have this one little thing- RIGHTS - in America? This aids Truth in expressing her opinion that it is ethically right for men to allow women within America to have the same rights as men... ...and it forces men to think of the fact that it is unethical for men and women to be unequal... ....which is is precisely what Truth
wanted to accomplish in her speech. This use of ethos also relates to the rhetorical device of... Allusion “Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.” The outside reference to the Bible connects with the religious members in the audience... ...which was most likely an extremely large portion... ...and makes them believe that men and women are equal on a biblical level. It also allows the “what if” thought; What if Christ intended for women to be as equal,
or of even more importance, than men? Because after all... a WOMAN gave birth to Christ. The male audience feels that maybe women should be allowed rights because Christ was born from a woman. Juxtaposition "That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere." "Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over
mud-puddles, or gives me any best place!” This expresses a hypocrisy in the way men think women should be treated... ...and how black women are actually treated. It makes the women in the audience think of other instances their life when they have possibly been discriminated against in some way or another. This feeling of unjust inequality makes the women in the audience want to take action against all discriminators, including those who discriminate African Americans, so everyone can be equal to each other and have equal rights. Anaphora The repetition of this phrase shows the audience that Truth is proud of the fact that she is a woman and that she strongly believes she as a woman deserves equal rights to those of men. Each time Truth repeats this phrase, the audience also gains a little bit more of this same feeling. It makes them feel deserving of equality and
it in turn makes them want to fight for it. Pinpointing the Enemy Truth pinpoints the white man as the enemy. “I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.” “That man over there says...” “Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men....” Truth uses the white man as the “enemy” so women have something to focus their struggles on... ...and it drives the women in the audience to want to beat and overcome the powers of the men. Works Cited "Modern History." Fordham University: The Jesuit University of New York. Internet Modern History Sourcebook. Web. 25 Nov 2012. <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/sojtruth-woman.asp>. "Women's Rights." National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, 11 2012. Web. 25 Nov 2012. <http://www.nps.gov/wori/historyculture/sojourner-truth.htm>. The End! By Lucy Beeler Google Images Google Images
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