The X Factor
In the excerpt from Malcolm X’s “Message to Grassroots,” Malcolm X uses effective stylistic devices such as colorful figurative language, effective repetition, and powerful diction to persuade his audience of his argument. Malcolm X feels strongly that America has treated the people of color unjustly, and he is angry about it. He is arguing that minorities need to forget their differences, so they can unite in a common cause to gain equality and liberty. Too, he says blacks, and other “unwanted people,” should wake up to reality. They must understand they are being treated unfairly, and by doing so, can “plot a course” to become educated and therefore have the ability to defend themselves against white oppression. Malcolm’s masterful use of language makes his speech effective.
In order to capture his listener’s attention, Malcolm X employs figurative language such as personification and similes to add life to his writing. When he talks, it sounds poetic. First, he personifies America by saying “she doesn’t want us here.” By doing so, he creates a common enemy; one which when personified, is more readily recognized. Also, he compares the blacks to strong images and symbols that evoke pictures of brutality. He says the people are “slaves,” and this use of metaphor surely catches their attention. When he employs similes, such as “like a horse, or a cow, or a chicken,” Malcolm X compares them to farm animals and beasts-of-burden. This reminds them of just how hard White America has made it for Black America.
Also, Malcolm X uses effective diction like loaded language and idioms, and a common speech or vernacular, that enables him to connect with the audience. He understands how important it is not to sound too intellectual, otherwise many of the more uneducated people would tune out from his message. Examples of loaded language like calling the people “slaves” is definitely going to stir their emotions. When X uses “of-the-cuff between you...
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