Common Core: 12th Grade English Language Arts : Themes, purposes, and rhetoric of foundational U.S. documents: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.9

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Example Question #1 : Themes, Purposes, And Rhetoric Of Foundational U.S. Documents: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.11 12.9

Adapted from the First Inaugural Address of Thomas Jefferson (March 4th, 1801)

During the contest of opinion through which we have passed, the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety.

But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.

Which of the following is NOT a rhetorical technique used to create a sense of closeness with the audience?

Possible Answers:

The use of the plural pronoun "we"

Florid language

An omniscient point of view

Direct address

Correct answer:

An omniscient point of view


The first step to figuring out which rhetorical feature is NOT present in a text is to assess, for yourself, what rhetorical features and tactics ARE present in the text. If you take a good, thorough look at this text you will find all rhetorical tools named in the answers EXCEPT the right answer.

There is a chance, however, that you will be running short on time, and will have to try to take a quicker path to the answer. Fortunately, the question is specific in its querying of the rhetorical technique's effect (creating a "sense of closeness"), which gives you an alternate way of assessing the potential answer choices. Which of these answer choices describe rhetorical tools that are, actually, used to crate a sense of closeness between a speaker and an audience, and which, if any, are not? "Direct address" is probably the best mode a speaker can use to create a feeling of community a speaker. The hint here is right in the name: direct. When someone looks us in the eye and speaks straight to us, and only us, that person is speaking "directly," and this very directness creates the closeness; there isn't any eyeball-staring going on here, but rhetorically speaking this mode of address is fulfilling that function! Now, we, us, you and I, take a look at the use of the plural "we" in the passage. The pronoun is used insistently and consistently, and anytime you directly linguistically include yourself with your addressee you are asserting unity (by definition). "Florid language" is the most questionable of all of these, but anytime a speaker increases the intensity of their description it can be argued that they are assuming an intimacy with the audience, and in this assumption are asserting a closeness with that audience. The particularities of that answer choice become moot, however, when we get to "an omniscient point of view." Such a point of view takes a god-like position above the events described, and assumes knowledge of all aspects of the situation. It is by far the least intimate point of view, and is NOT at any point even used in the text. We've found our answer!

All Common Core: 12th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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