In President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address he speaks few words, but the words he says speak loudly. His words make people think about more than just what he is saying because he utilizes many rhetorical devices. Practicing the devices helps the audience paint a bigger picture in their mind about what he is going to do for us during his presidency. There are many descriptive words throughout the speech, questions for us to think about, and facts about what he plans to do in the future. This draws the audience closer and deeper into his words. My first thought when I read though the speech is that he has a good plan and he is willing to put himself on the line in order for America not only to be the America that has prospered previously, but to become stronger and closer as a whole.
The speech has an antithesis to show the importance of the subject, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” he uses this phrase to show that he wants America not only to stay strong if and when a time of fear comes and to also know that we should stay open to new ideas. In the speech it is a short paragraph and uses a mixture of complex sentences, simple sentences, and declarative sentences. Words like “freedom”, “poverty”, “devotion”, “loyalty”, and “sacrifice” set the tone for the things he likes, dislikes, and would like to improve upon. He wants to rise up against those who doubt us and prove them wrong. He also uses archaic words such as “mortal”, “whom”, and “forbears” to show how he still wants to be connected with the past presidents, but he would also like to add some of his own style. Kennedy is strong and has thought about what he wants to do and what he believes he can do and assures the audience of that.
The speech fluctuates in style in sentence or paragraph length and structure so the audience knows exactly what he is trying to get across and gets a stronger understanding of his position. He uses short paragraphs are straight to the point; this gets the people to involve themselves: “So let us begin anew- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject of proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” This style gives the reader an understanding that he wants to move forward with gusto and strength. John F. Kennedy knew what to say to get the people’s attention.
In the speech Kennedy provided a lot of repetition to make sure what he said stuck with us. Words and phrases like “let us” and “let both sides” and “we” show that he is in this with us and what he does is for the people. “Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us (JFK).” He also uses a lot of rhetorical questions to make sure we are thinking about the way we have acted and how he believes we should act during his presidency. Questions such as “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country” or “ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man” make people want to act upon what he says, to think “Okay, I want to go out there and protect my freedom.
What can I do to help?” Kennedy ends his speech leaving us with the thought of how with God’s blessing, hard work and good deeds we will be rewarded in the end. Kennedy has shown the people in his speech that he is dedicated whole-heartedly to his country. He talks about all the ways he will work to keep our freedom and even improve the way we are living. He expresses that it will take hard work, but if we all work together and put our differences aside we will prosper. Kennedy’s attitude throughout the speech is strong and is very reassuring. Many people would choose to act on it because his words are very strong and get people thinking.