In Florence Kelley’s speech to the National American Woman Suffrage Association, she connects with her audience and encourages them to fight for the end of child labor by showing how horrifying it truly it is. Through bringing up the horrors of child labor, she implies that women need the right to vote, as they would abolish child labor. By appealing to pathos, using imagery, and applying repetition, Kelley successfully convinces the audience to agree that child labor is wrong.
Through appealing to pathos, Kelley connects with the audience’s conscience by showing how barbaric child labor and pushes her audience to desire the end of child labor. By stating that children “in age from six and seven years and eight, nine, and ten years”, work to provide for their families and themselves, Kelley strikes a chord in the listeners’ hearts and shows how this system takes advantage of young kids. This shows the monstrosity that is child labor as they are so young. As she writes that “boys and girls, after their 14th birthday, enjoy the pitiful privilege of working all night long”, Kelley shows that working all night is like forcing children into slavery. With the oxymoron “pitiful privilege”, she shows ironic it is that when a child has an important birthday, they are jokingly rewarded with longer work hours. Kelley connects with the audiences’ emotions as she shows how unjust it is to make children work as hard and as long as adults do. By describing the children as “little beasts of burden, robbed of school life that they may work for us”, Kelley makes the audience feel guilty for allowing child labor to be a common occurrence within America. By utilizing pathos, Kelley connects with her audience through proving how horrendous child labor is and calls them to action to rid America of it.
Kelley also uses imagery to convince the audience that child labor is horrendous and should come to an end by vividly describing the working conditions that the child laborers go through and how young these workers truly are. She describes the children as, “just tall enough to reach the bobbins”, which brings to the audience’s mind an image of an innocent girl forced into working at such a young age. As she describes the harsh factory working conditions the children face, she points out, “the deafening noise of spindles and the looms spinning”. By using such descriptive imagery, Kelley transports the audience to the rooms where little children are suffering and working. Through placing these unforgettable images in her audience’s mind, she causes them to realize the unfairness and horror of child labor which they will never be able to forget.
Another rhetorical device Kelley uses to convince her audience that child labor is a monstrosity is a repetition of certain phrases. Through repetition, Kelley pushes her words and facts into her audience’s head leaving them no room to deny the unfairness of child labor. Throughout her speech, Kelley repeatedly starts paragraphs with, “in (certain state)”. By doing this, she is able to state facts on child labor laws in certain states; showing that though there are laws on child labor, they are still extremely unreasonable and unfair. This shows the audience that child labor is very real and though they do not witness it, these kids make their items of comfort. She also repeats
the phrase “while we sleep”. This repetition highlights that children work through the night, but more importantly, it implies that this occurs while everyone else is relaxing and sleeping soundly in their beds. By showing that children are forced to work extremely hard, the audience is left horrified. By utilizing repetition, Kelley successfully imprints the facts of child labor and its’ unfairness in the listener’s mind.
In Kelley’s speech, she appeals to the audience’s conscience and emotions, paints vivid imagery, and uses repetition to call others to fight to end child labor as it is a horrendous occurrence.