Soaps-tone Reading Strategy For mlk jr.’s “i have a Dream” Speech Speaker



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SOAPS-tone Reading Strategy

For MLK Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech


  1. Speaker

  1. Actual voice: MLK Jr.

  1. Middle-aged; African American; educated; articulate

  2. Experienced much racism and segregation himself

  1. Voice to be heard: minorities in the U.S., especially African Americans

  1. Impoverished; segregated; subject of much racism and abuse

  2. Felt much of the brunt of propaganda, Jim Crow Laws, and years of slavery in the South

  1. Occasion

  1. Setting (time and Place)

  1. Time: 1863

  1. Height of Civil Rights movement; dawn of the Vietnam War

  2. Current president: John F. Kennedy

  3. JFK was assassinated and shared many similarities to Abraham Lincoln, the guy who began MLR Jr.’s dream by abolishing slavery.

  1. Place: Washington D.C.

  1. The nation’s capital

  2. Symbolizes that this message is important to the entire nation (unity)

  1. Ideas: Key idea (premise): “All men are created equal.”

  1. Segregation does not produce equality.

  2. The nation will not truly be free under racial segregation.

  1. Audience

  1. Intended audience (those who are supposed to hear): the entire U.S.

  1. Extremely diverse; very populous; vast

  2. Spread out; many different beliefs

  1. Receptive audience (targeted audience: those who must hear): the southern U.S.

  1. Premise: minorities are inferior to whites; they’re not human/citizens.

  2. Very bitter and resentful because of the Civil War and the economic effects of the abolishment of slavery

  3. Violent; a deep culture of propaganda that made them embrace negative ideas about minorities

  1. Purpose

  1. Persuasion: to persuade southern whites to believe that “All men are created equal and to abolish segregation and Jim Crow laws.

  2. The audience should think that this is an urgent matter; if change doesn’t happen through nonviolent means, violence will likely prevail.

  1. Subject

  1. Main idea

  1. First list key topics

  2. Topics: segregation; racial inequality; racism; Jim Crow laws; national unity; freedom

  3. Main idea: If segregation and racial inequality are not eliminated, the U.S. will never be a truly free and unified nation.

  1. The text is describing a problem

  1. Key problem: racial inequality and segregation

  2. Key words and phrases: His repeated “I Have a Dream!” shows what life will be like if the problem is fixed.

  1. Tone

  1. Tone: the writer’s attitude

  2. Tone words:

  1. Allusive: several allusions to Lincoln and his Gettysburg Address, to the Arthurian legend, to the Bible, to the Declaration of Independence, and to the Constitution.

  2. Urgent: he maintains that if the voices of minorities are not heard today, trouble will soon follow.

  3. Concerned/hopeful: He is concerned about the future of his children, but he is hopeful through the repeated “I have a dream today.”

  4. Syntax (structure of sentences)

  1. Lengthy

  2. Much repetition

  3. Many parallel structures

  4. Very formal and reminiscent of older speeches

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