Sojourner Truth was a black slave and she spoke of inequalities faced by blacks and women in America. In her speech she uses several rhetoric techniques to attract the emotional response of her audience during the women’s convention in 1851. In her speech she used repetition and biblical references to invoke a feeling of power to fight against race and gender inequality. She explains how she faced prejudice as a black woman to establish a sense of identity to attract women who face various forms of discrimination. To invoke resentment, she uses hypocrisy shown by men. Men know how to treat women and help them in various situations, but none of them has ever treated her nicely. Douglass argues that the fourth of July is a mockery for the slaves. He begins by asking rhetoric questions and uses sarcasm when referring to the declaration of independence. His aim is to stress the difference between the free people and the oppressed in the society. These questions give the audience a perspective of the difference between suggestions made and the reality (Sojourner, pp. 379).
Sojourner uses repetition of the rhetoric question “ain’t I a woman?” several times in her speech. This shows her resentment for the way she was being treated. This question aims at making the people believe that she deserved equal treatment like other women. White women received better treatment than black women yet there is no difference in feminism between the two races. Apostrophe is shown when she addresses a white man in the crowd. She points to the man and says that women need help to get into carriages and get across ditches. She shifts her attention from the rest of the crowd to address the white man. This statement depicts hypocrisy by the white men since they know how to treat women but fail to do so.
Hyperbole is used when she says she has given birth to thirteen children, of whom most have been sold to slavery. This statement shows the grief of black women and slaves, including their children. She uses antistrophe by repeating the phrase “ain’t I a woman?” at the end of several sentences. This emphasizes the discrimination black women and slaves faced in America. Climax appears when she ends her speech by saying “cried out with my mother’s grief” and one repetition of “ain’t I a woman.” This leaves her audience with a clear image of the violence she faced during slavery. The audience, especially women is able to relate to her suffering more emotionally. Irony is used in her opening remark where she calls her audience “children.” This refers to the biblical reference to all human beings as God’s children. This is in bid to campaign for equality for all races and gender. She also refers to the first woman in the bible by saying “if the first woman God ever made.” This calls for unity for all women despite of the race to unite and avoid injustices against blacks. Anaphora is used when he says welcome infidelity! Welcome atheism! Welcome anything! The repetition of the word ‘welcome’ in these phrases signifies the injustices that have been encouraged by religion. The law has gone against the religion it should protect. He finishes the speech with a climax by reciting a poem to give hope to the blacks in America. The poem encourages the slaves by saying that God will bring justice to the country. This justice will liberate them from oppression.
Douglass uses sarcasm by referring to the declaration of independence as “that.” This shows the difference between the free white people and the oppressed black slaves. He uses irony when he refers to America as young. He says “your nation is so young, seventy six years.” The use of “your” in the statement shows the difference between the whites and the black slaves. He uses personification by saying “America is young, and she is still in the impressible stage of her existence.” This gives the country the personality of a woman. According to the declaration of independence “all men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights” (Jefferson, pp. 493). This is ironic since the whites in America had more rights than the blacks. He uses cacophony to refer to the British government for the injustices against the black people in America. He refers to them as blind tyrants that have persisted with injustices since pharaoh and his people drowned in the red sea (Douglass, pp. 497).
Personification is seen when he refers to Washington to live until he has broken the chains of his slaves. Washington had broken the fame of the founders by enslaving others. Rhetoric questions appear when he asks “what have I to do with your national independence?” he separates himself and other black slaves from the independence of America. According to him, only the whites can celebrate independence. The phrase “fellow-citizens” has been used in several paragraphs. This repetition refers to all Americans to push for equality for all races in the country. Hyperbole is used when he refers to slave trade caravans as murderous traffic to emphasize how enormous the activity was. He refers to the footsteps of the slaves as dead and heavy footsteps. This shows that slave trade involved several people chained together.
Sojourner and Douglass use rhetoric devices to attract the emotions of the audience. The repetition of rhetoric questions and other phrases is meant to draw the sympathy of the audience. Their main aim is to convince their audience to promote equality for all Americans. The audience can feel the anger and oppression experienced by these orators, and they get the urge to advocate for equal rights. When Douglass refers to the declaration of independence, he wants to convince the leaders to ensure all Americans have the freedom they deserve. July 4th is the Independence Day for America but still the blacks suffer from injustice. However, sojourner has used the rhetoric devices more effectively than Douglass. She has repeated the phrase ain’t I a woman several times within her speech. This draws more emotional attention from her audience. The use of these devices impacts anger on her audience against the oppressors of black people and women.
Douglass Fredric. What to slave is the fourth of July. PP. 407-508. From Lunsford, Andrea A, and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Presence of Others: Voices and Images That Call for Response. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. Print.
Jefferson, Thomas. Declaration of independence. PP. 492-495. From Lunsford, Andrea A, and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Presence of Others: Voices and Images That Call for Response. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. Print.
Sojourner Truth. Ain’t I a woman? PP. 379-380. From Lunsford, Andrea A, and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Presence of Others: Voices and Images That Call for Response. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. Print.