Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman?
Sociologists have studied the topic of feminism for many years. They have tried to find a
clear answer as to why men are superior to women in day to day life. Some have found a theory
that states women are meant to be stay at home wives because they are the only ones able to
properly nurture their children physically. Even now a day we, as people, see and know sexist
men and even women that believe women should be stay at home wives. They believe that
men are superior, and that they should always be superior to women. Sojourner Truth didn't
fall into the norms of this belief, not in her time and probably not now either. She decided she
wasn't going to let those people's idea of bliss ruin her vision of hope and change. In a women's
rights convention in 1851, Truth delivered her speech Ain't I Woman? to any person that was
willing to listen. In her speech she asks men to let women come together and receive the rights
they deserve to help the world become a better place. While arguing for abolition and women's
rights, Truth uses counter arguments, repetition, and thought-provoking questions to appeal to
her audience.
The way Truth argues for this topic of women's rights and suffrage is the way that it's
done to appeal to an audience. She doesn't just argue for the rights; instead, she takes
opponents arguments and weakens them. This strategy helps spark a desire for action in the
women. For example, Truth brings up an argument that the men make against women's rights
all the time: Jesus wasn't a woman therefore we as women can't have the rights of men. Then
Truth answers, "Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing
to do with Him." She even goes on to mention Eve, providing a counter argument for an
argument that probably hadn't been made yet, proving her insight. Truth embodies a powerful
woman speaking her mind and speaking the truth with the help of her clever arguments, and
when other women see her in the audience they’re convinced, they want to be her, they want
that confidence, that power. The women see Truth's passion through her arguments, and the
women feel the anger and courage that Truth feels. Truth's arguments help her build pathos,
help her points come through to the women, help persuade the women. Her arguments spark a
hope in women which in turn ignites a take in action; her argument's effectiveness helps it
become appealing.
Another important aspect of her speech is the parts with repetition. Repetition helps us,
as people, memorize the formula an hour before our math test. Repetition helps us remember
the addition and subtraction we learned in first grade. If this paper were to include a section in
which the word Apple is written over and over and over again, would it not get stuck in our
heads? It would make us remember the word apple. Truth uses this same strategy in her
speech. It's a repetition that she uses to help the audience remember. The appealing part is the
phrases that she carefully picks and chooses to repeat – the phrases that will spark an emotion
in her audience. Why does she choose to repeat, "And ain't I a woman,"? Picture it. We're in
the audience and Truth tells us that men always say women need help into carriages, yet there
is no gentleman that has done this before to us, as individual women. Would we not think the
exact thought she says? It appeals to us, as people, because we feel empowered when we hear
her say it, and eventually, we can hear ourselves saying it along with her. The phrases she
chooses to repeat have the same effect that “Fifteen minutes can save you fifteen percent of
more on car insurance,” has in the commercial. Her repetition helps her point get stuck in her
audience's heads. Not to mention that the phrase she chooses becomes a catch phrase, even
becomes the title of the speech.
The final strategy Truth uses is one of unexpected effect. When she says, "Then they talk
about this thing in the head; what's this they call it?" it's written out in the speech that
someone whispers “intellect.” Truth's questions help keep her audience on their toes, attentive
to what she'll say next. She leaves us thinking and evaluating ourselves and our opinions, and
we, as the audience, tend to like that because then the speech becomes personal. We begin to
feel like Truth is talking directly to us, and we feel encouraged. There's another question she
asks, "If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be man to let me
have my little half-measure full?" This quote especially helps her show us that she isn't just a
woman going up there to talk about nonsense; she's a woman that's intellectual and shows
insight to what she's talking about. In this way, her speech could even appeal to the men that
happen to be listening. It could make men feel guilty, and leave them wondering what really is
their individual opinion, not the crowd's, not society’s. Her use of questions simply makes us
feel like a part of her speech; it helps us feel like we do have a say in the matter.
The power her counter arguments hold, the repetition she gets into our heads, the
questions she asks us, all of this develops Truth's style. The attitude these strategies give off is
an attitude that says we aren't settling for less; the vibe she gives off in this speech through the
strategies she chooses are what make her speech so appealing to women and men. She
develops a spark of desire and encouragement with use of her compelling questions. She helps
men hear the capabilities women have when they listen to her side of the arguments. And she
makes sure people will remember what she says by use of her repetition. All of this helps us
learn how we can develop a speech of encouragement or a speech that we just want people to
find appealing. It helps us dissect her speech, so we can learn from Truth's amazing ability to
appeal to her audience.