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John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address. Text Analysis.

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by

Sarah Urquidez

on 29 October 2013

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Transcript of John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address. Text Analysis.

John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address. Text Analysis.
One thing I noticed about Kennedy's inaugural address would be that he divided it into four parts. The introduction of his speech has to deal with how his fellow Americans will remember the founding fathers and all the effort they put forth into building America. The second part of his speech consists of many different pledges. Leading into the third section where he mentions two sides of the world, he talks about how the United States must explore each side of the issue while also carefully considering all options. Lastly, Kennedy expresses his trust that his "fellow citizens" can help rebuild peace across the world.
Throughout Kennedy's speech, he uses various stylistic devices which helps add strength and character to his speech. The two most recurring devices in his speech would be parallelism and antithesis.

During his introduction, he combines parallelism and antithesis in the statement; “an end, as well as a beginning - … renewal, as well as change.” This statement introduces the theme of progression which is used all throughout Kennedy's speech.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States of America, serving from 1961 until he was assassinated in 1963. He was the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize.
His death was one of the most shocking events in American history.
John F. Kennedy
During the third and fourth paragraphs, Kennedy once again uses the theme of progression which also leads to the “new generation of Americans”. He combined antithesis and alliteration in his statement, “support any friend, oppose any foe”, and a metaphor in “the torch has been passed”.

Each of these stylistic devices used in Kennedy's speech stress the contrast between good and bad.
As we go into the second part of the speech, you can notice that antithesis (e.g. “well or ill”, “support any friend, oppose any foe”.) and parallelism (“United, there is little we cannot do [...]. Divided, there is little we can do”, “We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them [...] supporting their own freedom.”) are both used in this section.
Kennedy uses a strong metaphor to address "The new states": “those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside”.
At the end of the next paragraph, he uses another impressive example of parallelism which also includes antithesis. “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
Kennedy uses figurative language in the paragraph in which he expresses his pledge to the South American states: (“casting off the chains of poverty”, etc.), and “to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak - and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run”.
During the paragraph that follows, Kennedy uses yet another strong metaphor, “the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in [...] self-destruction.” to introduce the theme of two opposing powers.
The very last sentence of the second section includes parallelism and repetition, “when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt”.
Kennedy mentions his plans for the two opposing forces in the third part of the speech while using the device chiasm, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”
Moving onto the fourth section of the speech, the theme of progression is used once again, (“each generation of Americans has been summoned”).
He starts the next paragraph with an expression which uses a Biblical origin (“the trumpet summons us”) and also uses an alliteration fused with a metaphor: “but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle”.
In the very last part of Kennedy's speech, he refers to God one more time, just like he did at the very beginning of his speech, “I have sworn before…God” - “God’s work must truly be our own”.
Full transcript