Letter From Birmingham Jail

Questions to the Letter from Birmingham Jail

1. Parallelism: the use of similar grammatical form to express ideas that are related or equal in importance. Identify the parallel structure in lines 151-179. What effect does this structure have on King’s argument?

2. What other document does King refer to in lines 183-194? What does that document do? Which of King’s three reasons for being in Birmingham (see question 2) is supported by this distinction between just and unjust laws?

3. A strong argument shows a consistent awareness of audience. Cite two references (or allusions) in lines 205-210 that appeals to King’s audience of fellow clergymen. Why are these references well suited to King’s audience?

4.A well crafted argument moves from general ideas to specific examples. Identify the specific examples King provides of either unjust laws or the unjust application of just laws in lines 216-237.

5.Allusion- an indirect reference to a famous person, place, event, or literary work. Identify the allusions in lines 247-264. How does King use these allusions to support his argument in favor of civil disobedience?

6. What tone does King create through his word choice in lines 265-267? What effect does this shift in tone have on King’s audience?

7. Why does King discuss white moderates, who were generally sympathetic to the cause of civil rights, in his letter (lines 282-290)? What is the implied counterclaim King addresses here?

8. Use textual evidence in lines 299-312 to state King’s counterargument to the assertion that the actions of Birmingham’s African American community precipitated violence and must be condemned. Explain one example King uses to address the clergymen’s statement.

9.Why is it important in lines 313-336 for King to address the counterclaim that African Americans will eventually receive equal rights>Identify King’s counter argument and cite his reasons in these lines.

10.Writers of arguments must clearly delineate claims. Identify the “two opposing forces” King discusses in lines 340-363. How does King’s discussion of these two forces serve his purpose?

11. How does King shift the idea of being “extremist” from something negative to something positive? How does the concluding sentence of the passage (lines 408-410) directly address his audience?

12. Identify words with negative connotations in lines 423-429. In what way does King contrast these negative words with the positive situation he is describing?

13. In lines 446-485, identify at least one contrast between what King expected from religious leaders and what actually happened. How does the contrast between what King expected and what actually happened support his claim and address his audience?

14. Identify references to American history in lines 540-557. How do these references support the idea that African Americans deserve equal rights?

15. What counterclaim in the clergymen’s letter does King address in lines 558-571? What evidence does King provide for his counterargument?

16. Cite words and ideas in lines 572-585 that echo earlier ideas in the letter, including King’s stated reasons for being in Birmingham.

Asked by
Last updated by Dharilyn V #570619
Answers 2
Add Yours

You need to submit each of your questions one at a time. I also do not know if my digital copy of the speech matches your line numbers. Please include a quote of the line numbers you are referring to.

16. Cite words and ideas in lines 572-585 that echo earlier ideas in the letter, including King’s stated reasons for being in Birmingham.