Here are the elements which will help you with the analysis of Robert F. Kennedy’s statement on the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
The rhetorical situation is that the speech is delivered by Robert F. Kennedy, a US senator campaigning for his Democratic presidential nomination. The speech is delivered in an African-American ghetto in Indianapolis, and the audience is predominantly black. While the speech is addressed to the main audience in Indianapolis, Kennedy also addresses the US as a whole.
As for the composition of the speech, Kennedy structures his statement around two issues. In the first part, he acknowledges the hatred and anger of black Americans regarding the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. In the second part, he advises America to remain united and deal with the tragic event together, following King’s example.
Kennedy’s style of language is formal and mirrors the serious and tragic context of the speech. While the statement is rather short, Kennedy inserts figurative language at times, which helps him deliver his ideas to the audience.
When it comes to rhetorical devices, Kenny mainly relies on allusions, antithesis, direct address, and repetition. The rhetorical devices make his statement more empathetic and, while aiming to create an emotional response in the audience.
Kennedy uses two modes of appeal in his speech – ethos and pathos. The two forms of appeal balance his speech and show the audience that he has had to deal with a similar tragic experience and that he understands what the black community is going through.
You can read a full analysis of the speech on the following pages.