2011 AP Language and Composition Free Response
Prior to the Progressive Era, few individuals actually committed themselves to social reform.
Historians, however, note Florence Kelley as a great exception, who in her life advocated for female suffrage in addition to better child labor laws. In her famous National American Women Suffrage Association speech, Kelley uses imagery, erotesis, and repetition to suggest that as working women, they should not only petition for better child labor laws, but also for the right to vote. In her speech to the National American Women Suffrage Association, Florence Kelley uses imagery to describe the plight of the children. By describing child laborers as, “little beasts of burden,” who are, “under the sweating system,” Kelley appeals to the raw emotions and pity that her audience has for children. Intertwined with her use of guilt, when she argues that the children work crazily for the sake of her audience, Kelley conveys the idea that the audience, as consumers are solely to blame for the children’s suffering. Moreover, through her use of imagery, Kelley suggests that children do not belong in factories with her description of, “deafening noise of the spindles and the looms spinning.
” In using imagery to describe the toil of children, she uses an appeal to guilt that causes her audience to trust her later on when she proposes that only the right to the ballot and petition will lead to better child labor laws. Moreover, Kelley poses a series of rhetorical questions through her use of erotesis that increases her credibility in the eyes of the audience all while suggesting that only female suffrage could lead to the protection of the children. For instance, she does this when she asks, “If the mothers and teachers of Georgia could vote, would the Georgia legislature have refused at every session…to stop the work in the mills of children…” Through rhetorical questions like these, she transfers blame onto the male controlled legislature and also suggests that female empathy could have done better if they were in power. This increases her credibility, considering that her audience was a convention for the National American Women Suffrage Association. When she asks, “What can we do,” she continues to argue that working women should continue advocating for suffrage.
Additionally, Kelley uses repetition to convey this idea of female activism. In he final call to action, she pleas that “for the sake of the children, for the Republic,… for the sake of our cause,” females needed to petition. Her use of repetition ingrains her argument by constantly suggesting that women needed the right to vote. This repetition invites input from her fellow convention members. In conclusion, through her use of imagery, erotesis, and repetition, Florence Kelley eloquently argues that females should continue to petition for not only children but for themselves.
Her imagery evokes pity, guilt, and also anger at the male legislature while her erotesis and repetition invite activism. Through these devices, it is not a surprise that she was successful in her fight for child labor laws.