Daniel R. Stout Rhetoric of Western Thought Aristotelian Criticism Exercise I. Background of the Speech http://www.feminist.

com/resources/artspeech/genwom/sojour.htm Sojourner Truth, was originally born with the given Isabella Baumfree. She was born in 1797, the daughter of two slaves in Ulster County, New York. She lived the first portion of her life as a slave in which she only spoke Dutch. She was later sold to another owner, it was there that she learned to speak English. She ran away from her owners and freed herself and her new born child shortly before the state of New York made slavery illegal. She eventually landed on a utopian land in Massachusetts where she became an abolitionist and a member of the women’s suffrage movement giving many different speeches about her personal experiences. The audience for the speech are the directly the individuals at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio. These people would be many of the suffragists from around the country gathering for the yearly convention that was to be held. The people in the audience may have contained a few people who didn’t believe in women’s rights and were there simply to stir up trouble, but for the most part we should believe that the convention had mostly suffragist present at the meeting. The Occasion of the speech was the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio. The women’s movement decided many years earlier that the conventions were the best means of advocating and spreading the ideals of the women’s movement. They decided this because they believe that organizations were inherently oppressive and they wanted


to stay away from mechanisms such as those. It did ensure that common values and demands were established and refined in order to ensure the movement was unified in its thinking. It used the conventions to raise morale and consciousness about the movement itself. As long as the oppression of women were taking place the conventions were going to continue. The big debate at this time was whether women were equal to their male counterparts. This is ultimately where Sojourner Truth’s speech came into play.

II. Analysis of the Speech Sojourner Truth was out to make the world a better place, her speech was dedicated to showing that women were equal to men and being a member of the abolitionist movement. She does this by giving her life experiences of being a slave and using those stories to compare to the stories of the men. This is used to prove that women are in fact equal to men. Every time she says “Ain’t I a woman” is another instance of when she has compared herself to a man and what men go through. Sojourner Truth had many examples of Ethos going into the speech, she was a former slave and had lived a very stressful life not only on here emotions but also on her physically. She was rather old at this point and was able to use her oldness as wisdom for being around and knowing how the world works. Her wisdom and her life as a slave give her ethos because it establishes that she does in fact know what she is talking about when she says that women are equal to men. She specifically establishes her ethos with the following statement: “I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman?”


Her use of this statement is an incredibly effective means to establish ethos with an enthymeme. Look first at the first sentence, it indicates that she had done all the things that men usually associate with being masculine and had no trouble doing so. This was the biggest argument as to why women and men weren’t equal, because women can’t do the same physical labor as men. The use of “And ain’t I a woman?” is the most powerful part, because it is the other premise. If she has done all the things mentioned in the first sentence that are associated with masculinity, and she is a woman, which is the minor premise, this forces the audience to draw a conclusion, which most likely would be that women can do anything that a man can. I believe that if my history classes serve me correctly, that many of the people throughout the United States believed that the slaves weren’t equal to that of anyone else. While at first that seems like an ethos based question, it does have basis in pathos, because the audience would just really be using this as argumentation against her analysis of the situation. This is something that she must specifically answer with an emotional appeal that will quell that idea that slaves aren’t real people. So while it may have served some ethos purposes, it does also serve to quell an argument that people in the audience themselves are thinking about which is the fundamental basis of a pathos base argument. “I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?” By using the fact that she has in fact had many different children she is establishing that slaves to are people. She indicates that just like the white folks, slaves had children also, and that if their children were ripped away, then the slaves having their children ripped away would also be painful to them. This establishes commonalities that


allow slaves to look human. This functionally answers questions in the audiences mind, but also it serves as an argument as to why the slaves should be freed also, which was her other big cause that Sojourner Truth fought for. Sojourner Truth used many different arguments base upon logos in which she talked about how logically if women and men can do something then they are both equal. The best of the logos base enthymemes is where Sojourner Truth is speaking about the power of women in the world. “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” This unlike the other enthymemes above is missing the minor premise instead of the conclusion or major premise. Here Sojourner Truth indicates that Eve did have world changing power because she was the one that turned the world upside down. The minor premise that is missing is that Eve is just like any other woman, because all women are the same. This would fulfill the requirements for the conclusion that women have the power to turn the world right side up.

III. Evaluation of the speakers use of rhetorical invention I think that this was an incredible speech. It was something that was able to rock the women’s movement because never before did they have an empirical example of a woman who could do the same things as men could. Since that was the big argument against women being able to vote this was damning to the anti-suffragist of the time. I think ultimately the speech was also very effective because of its use of the phrase of


“ain’t I a woman”. This phrase was used almost every time as the minor premise to draw a conclusion about the equality of people in the world today. Ultimately the enthymemes that were used had multiple functions as they answered questions or ideas that the audience had in their mind (logos) and they were also making logical comparisons (logos) and establishing herself as a credible source all at the same time. Therefore I believe that saying that Sojourner Truth used all means of persuasion that were given at that opportunity is a true statement. Sojourner Truth was in a unique role because she had done many masculine work type of things that were all being used as binds against the women’s movement. But Sojourner Truth’s life experiences were something that were unique, because most women weren’t able to do the kind of work that the men were talking about, but her life experiences said, no, women and men are equal.