What rhetorical devices and strategies does Florence Kelley use to connect with her audience? How does she employ those devices and strategies to make her point about child labor?

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teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Some rhetorical devices that Florence Kelley uses to connect with her audience include:

1) Epistrophe- this is the repetition of words or phrases at the ends of clauses (whether main clauses or subordinate clauses) and sentences. This sort of repetition lends a special emphasis to a point any public speaker wants to make. Below, Kelley is very specifically drawing our attention to the plight of girls. 

Men increase, women increase, youth increase, boys increase in the ranks of the breadwinners; but no contingent so doubles from census period to census period (both by percent and by count of heads), as does the contingent of girls between twelve and twenty years of age. They are in commerce, in offices, in manufacturing.

Note: Another repetitive tool is epimone. This is the frequent repetition of phrases or words in order to focus on a point. The words census period is repeated twice in close quarters to emphasize time and the continual suffering of young girls.

2) Imagery- this rhetorical tool is often associated with pictures that the public speaker seeks to paint for the audience. Kelley uses imagery to appeal to her audience's five senses: touch (tactile), smell (olfactory), sight (visual), taste (gustatory), and hearing (auditory). Her imagery is expertly used to appeal to pathos, to the emotions of her audience, for the purposes of arousing a sense of outrage and disgust regarding the treatment of girls in factories. Examples below:

Tonight while we sleep, several thousand little girls will be working in textile mills, all the night through, in the deafening noise of the spindles and the looms spinning and weaving cotton and wool, silks and ribbons for us to buy. [auditory imagery- the unbearable noise in factories is highlighted]

A girl of six or seven years, just tall enough to reach the bobbins, may work eleven hours by day or by night. And they will do so tonight, while we sleep. [visual imagery- little children are living a life of misery while the audience sleeps]

Under the sweating system, tiny children make artificial flowers and neckwear for us to buy. They carry bundles of garments from the factories to the tenements, little beasts of burden, robbed of school life that they may work for us. [visual imagery- the images portray overworked children burdened by a life of slavery]

They knit our stockings, our knitted underwear in the knitting factories. They spin and weave our cotton underwear in the cotton mills. Children braid straw for our hats, they spin and weave the silk and velvet wherewith we trim our hats. They stamp buckles and metal ornaments of all kinds, as well as pins and hat-pins. [visual and tactile imagery- the audience can see and feel all the things they wear on their persons as derived from the hands of overworked children]

3) Anaphora- this is the repetition of words at the beginning of successive clauses (main or subordinate) and sentences. This device produces a special rhythm and creates an emotional effect that can be extremely inspiring. Below, Kelley is exhorting her audience to action.

"For the sake of the children, for the Republic in which these children will vote after we are dead, and for the sake of our cause, we should enlist the workingmen voters, with us, in this task of freeing the children from toil!"

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