The Power of Anaphora in JFK's Inaugural Address

Categories: John F. Kennedy


John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, delivered on January 20, 1961, stands as a powerful testament to his vision of a united and cooperative America. The speech revolves around the central theme of fostering unity among the American people to collectively contribute to the nation's progress. In this analysis, we delve into the strategic use of anaphora, specifically the repetition of key phrases such as "we pledge" and "we shall," as Kennedy endeavors to instill a sense of shared commitment.

Anaphora as a Rhetorical Device

Kennedy employs anaphora, a rhetorical device characterized by the deliberate repetition of words or phrases, to convey a compelling message of unity.

The repetition of the phrase "we pledge" serves as a powerful tool, echoing throughout the speech to underscore the collective promise the American people make to their nation. This repetition is not accidental; rather, it is a deliberate choice aimed at embedding the idea firmly in the minds of the audience.

The strategic use of "we shall" further reinforces this commitment, emphasizing the collaborative effort required from all individuals.

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By repeating these phrases, Kennedy skillfully communicates that the responsibility for America's betterment rests on the shoulders of every citizen, creating a sense of shared purpose and collective obligation.

Emphasis on Unity

Central to Kennedy's address is his intentional use of the inclusive pronoun "we." This linguistic choice serves to connect the president with the American people, portraying a shared journey towards progress. The repetition of "let both sides" underscores Kennedy's desire for agreement and collaboration, urging different factions to work together for the common good.

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By consistently reinforcing the notion of unity through anaphora, Kennedy aims to establish a collective identity where citizens recognize their indispensable role in the nation's construction. The use of "we" becomes a rallying cry for a populace united in purpose, emphasizing the strength that lies in collaboration.

Building a United Nation

Kennedy's pursuit of a united nation extends beyond rhetoric; it reflects a genuine desire to align himself with the American people. The repeated call for "both sides" to collaborate serves as a strategic move to bridge divides and create a harmonious environment for progress. By forging this connection, Kennedy seeks to influence his audience, emphasizing that the president alone cannot achieve national improvement — it requires a collective effort.

The emphasis on collaboration is not merely a political strategy but a visionary approach to constructing a strong and civilized nation. Through his words, Kennedy paints a picture of a nation where diverse factions come together, each contributing to the collective goal of building a better America. The anaphoric repetition becomes a call to action, inviting citizens from all walks of life to actively participate in the nation's development.


In conclusion, John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address masterfully utilizes anaphora to convey a powerful message of unity and shared commitment among the American people. By strategically employing repetition with phrases like "we pledge" and "we shall," Kennedy emphasizes the collective promise and obligation each citizen holds for the nation's betterment.

The deliberate use of inclusive language, such as "we" and "both sides," reinforces the vision of a united nation where collaboration transcends political and social divides. Kennedy's call for unity, embedded within the fabric of his inaugural address, is not only a rhetorical flourish but a sincere invitation for citizens to actively contribute to the construction of a stronger, more civilized America.

Additional Information

Examining the historical context of Kennedy's 1961 inauguration reveals the challenges and opportunities of the time, offering insights into the relevance of his call for unity. Beyond anaphora, the speech may be analyzed for other rhetorical devices or stylistic elements, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of its impact. Considering the public and historical reception of the address provides a broader perspective on its significance in shaping the course of American history.

Ultimately, Kennedy's Inaugural Address remains a pivotal moment in the nation's narrative, encapsulating a vision of unity that transcends time, resonating with subsequent generations as a call to collective responsibility and progress.

Updated: Feb 16, 2024
Cite this page

The Power of Anaphora in JFK's Inaugural Address. (2017, Jun 09). Retrieved from

The Power of Anaphora in JFK's Inaugural Address essay
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