The Life Of Martin Luther King English Literature Essay

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Martin Luther King Jr. was born January 15, 1929, and died April 4, 1968. His grandfather was a pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and passed down the title in the further generations. Martin Luther Kings father was a pastor and King himself acted as co-pastor. He received a B.A. degree from Morehouse College in 1948, following in his father and grandfather's footsteps yet again. Throughout his education King was always a strong supporter for Negro civil rights and in 1955 he became a leader in the bus boycott. The bus boycott was a protest against segregation on public buses. The boycott lasted 382 days and during this time King was arrested, had his home bombed, and was subjected to personal abuse. But after the successful protest he became Negro leader of the first rank. In 1957, King was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization created to make leadership for the growing Negro civil rights movements. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference used Christian ideals and non-violent protest tactics learned from Gandhi. During his leadership King traveled all over the place and spoke against racism and inequality. He caught the world's attention on August 28, 1963 when he gave the famous 'I Have a Dream' speech in front of an estimated 250,000 people and in 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed. When he was only 35 years old, King received the Nobel Peace Prize, making him the youngest recipient of the award. But on April 4, 1968, as King stood on the balcony of his hotel, he was assassinated. Martin Luther King Jr. had become a world icon, his educated youth and theological lifestyle lead him to who he was. He changed his ideas of Negro Civil Rights to a national revolution and worked for the betterment of America.

This novel is organized into parts. There are five parts to his book and in each part he describes a different event that was happening at the time and how changing it would better the nation. King took current events or current groups and described motives and reasons as to why and what this thing is happening or why and what this groups views are. Then after giving us a clear understanding of the topic, he goes in and tells us what we can change and what effect it could have on America.

Soon before his death, Martin Luther King realized that Negro Civil Rights couldn't be his only mission. He then vowed that he would address any threat to human dignity, and this book is about his addressing these threats. So there really isn't much of a plot. Instead it's a group of essays on topics put together into a book as 5 steps for national revolutions. The common theme in this novel is revolution and peace. King constantly talks about changing America and truly making it a democracy. He gives valid points of how black Americans are fighting in Vietnam for democracy, when in reality they have never experienced a democracy.

The beginning of the book was similar to the end of the book because both part 1 and part 5 are still on the topic of revolution and peace. In part 1 King talks about how nonviolent protest brings better attention than violent and how civil rights can come with peace. In part 5 he is talking about how America needs to change and realize that war does not make peace. They're different in that in part 1 he is talking about working for Negro Civil Rights and part 5 is talking about achieving peace without war.

This novel is written in 1st person point of view because he uses the words like I, me, we, and us. It is written in a recent perspective in the present tense because he is talking about events that were happening at the time of his writing. Martin Luther King Jr. is an observer in his book because he observes events happening around him and during that time and analyzes them. There isn't a shift in view points in this book because Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this book with a view point of revolution. He is trying to get across that change can better our nation and give it a true democracy, so he focuses on one topic. King achieves a persona of strong intellect and insight using the 1st person point of view. It shows that he is highly educated and that he does know what's best for the nation. His purpose is to lead Americans into revolution and bring betterment to the nation. Writing in first person makes a more personal approach to leading us to revolution and give us someone to follow and look up to.

In this book the only real character is Martin Luther King Jr. because he is writing in first person about events and groups. His character is revealed indirectly in that he doesn't ever talk about himself, but he talks about events in a very educated tone. As he goes in depth into the topics he's writing about, you recognize the level of knowledge he has on the situation. King recognizes the flaws in the American democracy and vows to correct them. A quote that reveals King's intellect is found on page 37, where he says; 'They are told they are sacrificing for democracy, but the Saigon regime, their ally, is a mockery of democracy, and the black American soldier has himself never experienced democracy.' This quote reveals King's intellect by showing us that he recognizes that we are fighting to protect something that we haven't acquired yet.

This novel was written sometime in 1960s before Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and the writing reflects the setting of the 60s. The environment of the 60s was very violent in America. There were several protests happening; black civil rights protests, women's rights protests, and even protests against the war in Vietnam. President Kennedy was assassinated, followed by his brother, and even Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. King fought to end threats to human dignity no matter where or what they were. So he goes on to talk about every problem in America. He uses the setting of America to evoke an emotional response out of the American readers. When Americans read about how we ignore the African American community and how senseless it is to send our young American troops to die in Vietnam, fighting for a democracy that America hasn't fully been able accomplish yet, we get upset and feel empowered to change the face of America. The atmosphere created by this 60s setting is an atmosphere of senseless violence. King highlights all of the terrible things our government is doing then intelligently tells us what we can do to change it. He explains that through nonviolent actions and nonviolent protest we can get more accomplished that acting out violently. And in a time where violent actions seemed like the only action, King tried to change the atmosphere. Also, the setting is important because King is trying to bring revolution to the place he is talking about, America. If he was talking about changing some other country it wouldn't have the same effect. Because he is talking about where we live and where we represent, it makes us want to act and fix our home.

Martin Luther King Jr. writes in a very formal manner. He is trying to write persuasively to convince readers to work for change and he uses logic and reasoning to persuade. An example is on page 67, where he says; 'There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the very destructive power of modern weapons of warfare eliminates even the possibility that war may any longer serve as a negative good.' Here you can see that he understands that war is meant for positive things, but he argues with one sentence that there can be no positive outcome from our destructive behaviors. King uses little imagery but he uses a lot use irony. He uses it a lot as he describes how we live in the land of the free but many citizens have yet to experience the free. He uses irony in describing the Vietnam War where we are fighting for a democracy that a lot of Americans have yet to experience. King's language is strong and his wording indicates his education. There is nearly no dialogue in this book except in part five when he is quoting something he had said before. And the dialogue was about the same as his writing.

'It's one of the strangest things that all the great military geniuses of the world have talked about peace. The conquerors of old who came killing in pursuit of peace, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, and Napoleon, were akin in seeking a peaceful world order. If you will read Mein Kampf closely enough, you will discover that Hitler contended that everything he did in Germany was for peace. Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace. What is the problem? They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.' Pg 71. As you can see, this passage is very educated. He lists off conquerors from the past and shows us that he has historical knowledge of why people go to war. He even says something about Hitler's Mein Kampf, a book written about his struggle and political ideology. King says that the only reason people go to war is for peace. After naming off all of these historical conquerors then listing present people of power, he shows irony in saying how can the opposite of peace, war, bring peace. This defines Martin Luther King Jr. as a logical man and it furthers the theme by showing us that America needs to revolutionize and recognize that war does not bring peace.

'What is the attitude of this second radical group to the problem of violence? In a word, mixed; there are young radicals today who are pacifists, and there are others who are armchair revolutionaries who insist on the political and psychological need for violence. These young theorists of violence elaborately scorn the process of dialogue in favor of the 'tactics of confrontation'; they glorify the guerrilla movement and especially its new martyr, Che Guevara; and they equate revolutionary consciousness with the readiness to shed blood. But across the spectrum of attitudes towards violence that can be found among the radicals is there a unifying thread? I think there is. Whether they read Gandhi or Frantz Fanon, all the radicals understand the need for action-direct self-transforming and structure transforming action.' Pg. 40-41. In this passage we see King's intellect. He is talking about radical groups in depth showing that he knows what he is talking about. King is being subjective in talking about this, using large vocabulary to show emotion. He compares and contrasts violent radicals and pacifist radicals and finds the common ideal of we need structure transforming action. This furthers the theme by showing that he is not the only one that wants revolution.

Most of King's sentences are complex. He uses commas, colons, and semicolons often. He sentences are usually and average length, but sometimes he'll have a sentence with 3 or 4 words. He does this to get a point across. Martin Luther King Jr. is a very formal writer. He follows the rules of writing English very well, using commas and colons where necessary. King sometimes used rhetorical questions to start off a train of thought, shown in my second quoted passage. It lets us know the topic he is addressing before he addresses it so we don't have to dig through the context to find it. Also, he uses parallel structure and that can also be found in the second paragraph. He sets the violent radicals next to the pacifist radicals and pulls out their similarities. His sentence pattern is generally the same throughout the book, he keeps it at a medium length unless he's describing in depth or arguing a valid point because then he makes longer more complex sentences. King uses syntax to create the rhythm and flow of his writing by helping out his intellectual image and creating an idea of leadership making it easier to believe him and follow in his sayings. In the first passage I quoted King's using syntax and creating the effect of irony in stating how in all of history people have been fighting for peace. These help define Martin Luther King's character by showing us that he recognizes the ridiculousness fighting for peace. It shows him as a logical thinker and philosophical person and it furthers the plot by making you want listen to what an idealistic and rational person has to say on important topics. It helps set the tone by expanding on the intelligence and reasonable approaches Martin Luther King Jr. is taking to persuade us to move towards change.

King uses imagery subtly throughout his book. On page 5, where he says 'Boycotting buses in Montgomery, demonstrating in Birmingham, the citadel of segregation, and defying guns, dogs, and clubs in Selma, while maintaining disciplined nonviolence, totally confused the rulers of the South.' King is using imagery appealing to the sense of sight. He is making us imagine a line of policemen with their dogs and guns drawn waiting for you. Also on page 27, King says, 'They watch as we poison their water'' This imagery appeals to the sense of sight and the sense of taste. We imagine tasting poisoned water and knowing the true horror of it. On page 29, King uses imagery appealing to sound to make us imagine the destruction in Vietnam; 'In the North, where our bombs now pummel the land and our mines endanger the waterways,'' to pummel means to hit something with force repeatedly, and using bombs to pummel makes an image of force and loud explosions in our heads. On page 69, King says, 'And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that's poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that's poured into your cup by a Chinese.' King is using imagery to appeal to sight and smell by making you think of the good South American coffee smell, or just the smell of coffee and tea that we know so well. And also on page 69, King uses imagery to appeal to the sense of touch when he says; 'I know where we can store that food free of charge-in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of God's children in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and even in our own nation, who go to bed hungry at night.' He give is the feeling of our stomach when their empty and makes us think of what it's like to be hungry. Imagery has the function of bringing more attention to a topic. It can help us imagine it more clearly and depict metaphors and other images more noticeably. Just as in my last quote, when he talks about morning coffee I think about a warm cup of coffee, steaming from the top, and the aroma of the ground coffee beans filling the room.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s novel is highly symbolic of the need for revolution during the 1960s in America. Sometimes he says it bluntly and other times he alludes to it by pointing out something that needs to be fixed and could lead to an entire national revolution. One image he uses is in a quote I wrote in the previous paragraph, where he talks about coffee from a South American and tea from China. He is symbolizing that we as Americans depend on the rest of the world for our comfort and luxuries. He also talks about hippies and their lifestyle choice. 'The hard-core hippie is a remarkable contradiction. He uses drugs to turn inward, away from reality, to find peace and security. Yet he advocates love as the highest human value-love, which can exist only in communication between people, and not in the total isolation of the individual.' Pg 42. He makes a point to say that they try drugs and hallucinogens to find peace in the world. He says that that's impossible because love is a group feeling, not an individual thing. He is symbolizing that when America says they fighting for peace, they mean were fighting for our peace, which is an entirely different color spectrum. Symbols serve as a way to give an ordinary object, or a popular well known object, a special meaning and way to convey a complex message through more ordinary materials. When King uses hippies as a way to describe the need for end of war, it put things into perspective and made it all more clear to me.

Martin Luther King Jr. used metaphors and personification very well in this novel. He uses personification on page 45, when he says, 'A blanket of fear was lifted by the Negro youth.' Here he is personifying fear as an object; a blanket. He is comparing fear to a blanket and the way we all lift blankets everyday, with ease. He's saying that the Negro youth got rid of their fear with ease. He also uses metaphors like on page 53, where he says, 'Massive civil disobedience is a strategy for social change which is an ambulance with its siren on full.' He is comparing massive civil disobedience to an ambulance. Earlier in the paragraph he talks about how everyone must obey stop signs except fire trucks and ambulances. So when he said 'massive civil disobedience is a strategy for social change which is an ambulance with its sirens on full,' he was saying it is a type of action that can't be stopped. The figurative language effects this novel it by making it more interesting. Comparing civil disobedience to an ambulance blazing down the street is a lot more interesting than talking about not fighting. Figurative language is a necessity in this book because reading without it would make this book completely repulsive. I am not a big fan of politics and without the figurative language that's all this book would be.

Irony adds extra dimensions to meaning, and sets up special understanding between the writer and the reader. King uses irony to point out flaws in the governments actions. He says on page 37, 'They are told they are sacrificing for democracy, but the Siagon regime, their ally, is a mockery of democracy, and the black American soldier ha himself never experienced democracy.' This is situational irony in showing that the people fighting in the Asian jungles are fighting to protect something our nation has never really had. Another piece of situational irony is on page 3 when King says, 'We sang of 'heaven' that awaited us, and the slave masters listened in innocence, not realizing that we were not speaking of the hereafter.' He is talking about how slaves back in the day would see about escaping to Canada to avoid oppression. This is a more obvious piece of irony because he tells the reader about the irony. But still the situational irony in this piece is that the slave owner thinks they are singing about what happens after death, when in reality the slave are speaking about escaping and running away to their 'heaven', or Canada. King does a great job of using irony to point out flaws in America. He explains how America says they do one thing when in reality they don't abide by their word at all. The ironic devices make his arguments about Negro civil rights more persuasive. They make you put things in perspective and they open your eyes to what Martin Luther King Jr. is actually saying.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s tone throughout this novel is informative. He is informing the general public on the threats to human dignity that are occurring everyday. He focuses on the Negro community at some points, but even as he addresses that group he is speaking to anyone that's listening or caring about the situation. As he speaks about these issues that trouble him, he informs the reader on them. As he progressively passes on his knowledge of the topic he puts his own feelings in. This way as he teaches, he preaches. He informs us about groups, such as the radicals on page 40; 'There is a second group of young people, the radicals. They range from moderate to extreme in the degree to which they want to alter the social system. All of them agree that only by structural change can current evils be eliminated.' Here he tells the reader what a radical actually is then later draws connections between their beliefs and his. Like on page 42 when he explains his beliefs on the hippie ideals of individual peace and love, 'It seems to me that the hippies will not last long as a mass group. They cannot survive because there is no solution in escape.' This was a logical response to what hippies believe will work and he informs us on why it won't. His word choice helps him come across as an intellectual being, and everyone wants a smart person informing them, so this boosts the tone.

This book's central theme is that revolution is needed to change America and make it a true democracy. Martin Luther King Jr. writes this book around the idea of persuading mankind to revolutionize and change our ways. He argues the validity of the Vietnam War, he confronts America's reliance on foreign goods, and he works for Negro civil rights. Martin Luther King Jr. recognized that protests marches and sit-ins are not powerful enough to unearth strong evil and that civil disobedience is what is going to catch attention and rally up revolution. A motif I constantly found was the need for structural change. He speaks about revolution, and then mentions the need for structural change. He realized that they needed to change the foundation of our government to properly fix the issues we have in society today. A couple of my quotes earlier involved him talking about structural change. Another motif was civil disobedience. He used that as the gateway to getting into the structure of the government, then being able to revolutionize. His faith in civil disobedience was as strong as his faith in the Negro community and other people that desired change. Martin Luther King Jr.'s intention in this book is to awaken the minds of young Americans and people around the world that were being oppressed. He wanted to achieve his dream of freedom and justice for all people.

The books title is The Trumpet of Conscience. It is named this because King was trying to awaken peoples mind. The book was originally titled the Conscience for Change because King was trying to show people the proper mentality for change, but after he was assassinated they changed it to The Trumpet of Conscience because after his murder the publishers wanted a more important name to get readers to listen to King's knowledge. A trumpet used to be the instrument that would alert people of news or call together a meeting. So the trumpet in the title means it is a calling to conscience, or a calling to principles and ethics. I personally like the title and think it fits perfectly for what this book is about. It jumps out at more than the Conscience for Change, but in reality anything written by Martin Luther King Jr. pops out at me. The title actually motivates me in a way to want to do something against oppression in America; it's too bad that it is not the 60s where I could have probably done more effectively. The meaning of the title stays the same throughout the novel because he never really sways away from the idea of a calling to a revolution. Before reading you really don't have much knowledge on what this book is going to be about so the title doesn't mean much to you. But after reading, the title has much more meaning and makes more sense as to why it's there.

One quote that captures the essence of the King is on page 69, where he says, 'I know where we can store that food free of charge-in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of God's children in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and even our nation, who go to bed hungry at night.' I think this captures King because it's truly what he is about; helping other people. He is trying to persuade people to give the surplus of food we have as Americans to the hungry. Also, a quote that captures the essence of the story is a quote that I have put at least 3 times now but its on page 37 and it says, 'They are told they are sacrificing for democracy, but the Siagon regime, their ally, is a mockery of a democracy, and the black American soldier has himself never experienced a democracy.' I really think this shows that King really knew what he was talking about when he was writing this book. It makes perfect sense and really shows that America does need to change. Why would we fight to defend something we haven't even given our citizens yet? This really capitalized on the oppression that blacks were facing back then and showed they had no rights. One last quote that I think truly captures the essence of the book is on page 71 where he says, ''but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.' This quote summarizes up all King's arguments for a nonviolent revolution. This shows why he believes that change must be achieved through nonviolent actions and how it's logical. It makes his whole argument sensible.

Barrett 2

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