Cesar Chavez and his Martin Luther King Jr. memorial essay

I wrote a rhetorical analysis on Cesar Chavez’s Memorial essay, as the subject matter of this essay and the analysis is really close to this blog’s theme, so I decided to post it here.


Historically speaking, violent protests were never really functional. As said by Cesar Chavez, “when victory comes through violence, it is a victory with strings attached.” (lines 65-66) Throughout the essay, Chavez repeatedly emphasizes the need to protest through nonviolent means, and only nonviolent activism brings out the optimal result. In the opening paragraph, Chavez cites an authority—Martin Luther King Jr.—to give an example of a well-known nonviolent protester. Chavez asserts that “nonviolence is more powerful than violence” (line 12-13) and uses several examples and juxtapositions to support his argument.


Chavez offers an aphorism by stating that violence could lead to catastrophic results like “many injuries and perhaps deaths on both sides, or [] demoralization of the workers,” (lines 19-21) and, by contrast, states that “nonviolence has exactly the opposite effect.” (line 22) Chavez wants to make a point extremely clear: nonviolent protests are the most effective way to solve a problem. In the fourth paragraph (lines 22-33), Chavez used words like “conscience”, “justice” and “appeal”, letting the readers to imply that nonviolent means of demonstration are more supportive and stand on a higher moral viewpoint.


In paragraph 5 (lines 33-44), Chavez starts by introducing another perspective—people turn violent when they are facing “seemingly insurmountable odds,” but refutes people should turn violent even if they are facing great pressure and asserts that “men and women who are truly concerned about people are nonviolent in nature,” (liens 40-41) continuing to embrace the notion that violent means of demonstration should not be used even if the situation is extreme. (lines 45-54), Chavez also addresses that people who are “frustrate[ed], impatien[t] and ang[ry]” still deserve a militant stance, but should the method should still be nonviolent in nature. He emphasized that “there are those people who will see violence as the shortcut to change.” (Lines 50-51) However, Chavez juxtaposes that people can “overcome these frustrations [] throughout the movement,” (lines 52-54) signifying that impatient, frustrated and angry people can overcome their weaknesses by participating in nonviolent protests.


Chavez reinforces his stance that violent demonstrations should not be used by saying the “senseless violence [] brings no honor to any class or community, (lines 60-61) saying that violent protests are disgraceful and bring no value to the community. And if and even if an “victory comes through violence,” it still has “strings attached, [] at the expense of injury and perhaps death.” (lines 65-67) Chavez made his final generalization in line 77 by stating that “people suffer from violence.”


Chavez uses several aphorisms to state and support his main point and these examples directly appeal to readers’ emotions. The strong stance that Chavez takes on violence and protest made his point extremely visible and intuitive—nonviolence is superior to violence in advancing a goal. He compared violent means of protest and nonviolent means of protest and contrasted their differences to establish his argument—nonviolent protest is the only way to solve a problem.

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