I hope this is the right section for this topic...

I'm doing a prep about King's revision techniques. It is a bit-or some hard for me. I think, I understood the subject, King's ideas; but I must confess that I couldn't understand all sentences, examples etc. Because, for understanding it, in my opininon, I must know the American History well--and Christianity... But, I see that I don't have enough knowledge for understanding this letter.

In Paragraph 47, last sentences: Original sentence simply ended with, "the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage." King added, "thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence."

And the question about this:
"What's the effect of this added part? Why would King think it would strengthen his paragraph with his new audience?"

I thought at first, in the original sentence King appeals to prophetic religious impulses. Then he added the rationalist/revolutionary arguments for democratic rights and freedoms. I think he added this part because he want to change his argument from religious form to nationalist form... He uses nationality as a possitive analogy for building common ground with the intended audience...Or like this... It is difficult for me to understand the issue and define my ideas. Is my answer suitable? Can you give me some suggestions and advice?

And one more problem: "...great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers..." I get confused with the word "dig deep". I know its meaning as "break up." When I think like this it looks like a negative impression for founding fathers. May I misunderstand whole sentence?

I hope it is not chaotic.


Hello Hadeka

'To dig a well' is to make a deep hole in the ground where you know you'll find water. The implicit metaphor is 'democracy = water', or 'freedom = water', i.e. the basis of life.

I think your analysis is correct. The 'Judeo-Christian heritage' could be seen to include only part of his audience. By adding the phrase about democracy and the founding fathers, he includes his whole audience. And he also manages to imply that he himself is a direct descendant of the founding fathers.

There is also the purely rhetorical element:

'...thereby bringing our nation back/ to those great wells of democracy/ which were dug deep by the founding fathers / in their formulation of the Constitution / and the Declaration of Independence.'

Note the stresses on 'great wells' echoed by 'dug deep'. Also the alliteration: in the first phrase, on B; in the second and third, on D; in the third and fourth, on F; on D again in the last. Also the rhymes and part-rhymes: nation/great/formulation/declaration.

The whole thing has an air of the Psalms; the last two phrases ('in their formulation...Independence') have the characteristic rhythm of the end of a psalm: many unstressed syllables between the stresses.

Dear MrP,

Your help is really appreciated!

Thank you for your clear response and excellent rhetorical analysis.

Thank you for spending your precious time to help me,