Rhetorical Analysis Of Malcolm X's The Ballot Or The Bullet

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“A man who stands for nothing, will fall for anything.” These powerful words fostered the creation of one of the most influential speeches of all time, “The Ballot or The Bullet.” This speech was delivered by el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X, on April 3rd 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio. With the civil rights movement in full blast, this was one of the most historical but also oppressive time periods in American history. While the civil rights movement was in motion, the way it was to be conducted varied between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who championed non-violent resistance, and Malcolm X, who advocated militant resistance if necessary. Though Dr. King's beliefs were well documented, nowhere is the ideology of Malcolm X more perfectly …show more content…
Though he did not display this in the beginning of his speech, after the use of dialogismus rhetorical questions, Malcolm was quick to switch his tone to show his more violent side. He did this through the use of diaphoresis and anthypophora. These two devices not only allowed Malcolm to change his tone, but it also gave his audience two options and gave meaning to the title of his speech. We see Malcolm X use this in the part of his speech when he says “ ‘what next?’ In my little humble way of understanding it, it points toward either the ballot or the bullet.”(Malcolm X, page 1) By asking a question and then immediately answering it, Malcolm X does not allow his audience much time to think, instead he puts an idea in there head so fast that they believe it is the only way. This is a crucial part to the speech because it allows Malcolm to display his two options in a sort of heroic manner, so that people don't have time to react with opposition to his options. Instead they praise him for coming up with the. These two options given by Malcolm relate to his purpose because one of them involves militant resistance. This is a key part to his speech because it shows his audience that racial tensions are a real problem that can only be solved with to drastic and important measures. The use of the words “ballot” and “bullet” change the tone and mood in the audience. Not only do they enlarge the problem at hand but it is a last second effort to gain the attention of his audience. We also see this rhetorical device later on in that page when Malcolm says, “1964 threatens to be the most explosive year in america has ever witnessed. The most explosive year. Why? It’s also a political year.”(Malcolm X, page 1) Once again this is Malcolm X asking a question, without giving the audience time to think about it, and responds answer that instantaneously spreads fear across the room.