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Ten years following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., people still protested and empathized on behalf of his death, but labor union organizer and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez argues as to why nonviolent resistance, trumps violent resistance. Chavez is able to portray his belief to the people through his strong use of antithesis and diction, and while even alluding to a historical leader whose views and beliefs are still extremely well known today. Through his use of strong rhetoric, and specific examples Chavez is able to solidify his argument in favor of nonviolent resistance.
Throughout the article, Chavez uses antithesis to contrast the cons of violent resistance, with the pros of his argument for nonviolent resistance. Chavez first shines light to one of the pros of nonviolent resistance when he claims that, “Nonviolence provides the opportunity to stay on the offensive, and that is of crucial importance to win any contest.” Chavez is trying to get the point across that it is better to stay on good, and safe terms, rather than “fighting fire with fire,” because that can easily get violent, dangerous, and out of hand fast. Chavez juxtaposes this idea of being civil and not, “fighting fire with fire,” with cons of violent resistance when he says that, “If we resort to violence then one of two things will happen, either the violence will be escalated and there will be many injuries and perhaps death on both sides, or there will be total demoralization of the workers.” Both the outcomes that Chavez portrays as a result of violent resistance are bad, and Chavez takes advantage of this situation in order to continue advocating for nonviolent resistance by soon after stating, “Nonviolence has exactly the opposite effect.” Chavez finally puts to rest his portrayal of the negative consequences of violent resistance after he says, “Violence does not work in the long run and if it is temporarily successful, it replaces on violent form of power with another just as violent.” This statement ends his juxtaposition against violent resistance, leaving the reader with a chance to think about the truth of this statement, and as seen through history this statement proves rather accurate.
Chavez uses strong diction in an effort to persuade the reader to advocate for nonviolent resistance. When Chavez first begins to argue against violent resistance, he uses powerful words such as “escalated,” and “demoralization,” to describe the negative effects of violent resistance. The words have a negative connotation in the context that they are used, which adds to the argument against violent resistance. Chavez uses this diction in this specific paragraph because this is the first time he truly introduces the idea of violent resistance, and he wants to immediately make it appear bad, and negative. Another instance in which Chavez uses strong diction is when he uses the words “frustration,” and “impatience,” in order to express how he is aware of how people feel frustrated, impatient, and angry, but he follows this up by saying that is no reason to resort to violent resistance, because eventually things will work out. It is through his strong use of diction, that Chavez is further able to leave a lasting impression on the reader as to why nonviolent resistance is a far more reasonable, and effective form of resistance.
Chavez continues to argue in favor of nonviolent resistance, by alluding to Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most famous men in the world, who is known for his firm stance on nonviolent resistance. Gandhi was able to lead India to its independence without any use of violence. By alluding to Gandhi, Chavez is making an effort to prove to readers that things can get done without the use of violence, and the story of Gandhi shows just that.
Chavez’s use of antithesis clearly portrays his reasoning as to how the pros of nonviolent resistance, outweigh the many cons of violent resistance, and through his use of strong diction, and an allusion that shows historical proof that nonviolent resistance is an effective strategy, Chavez is able to make a strong case for nonviolent resistance.
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