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California State University San Bernardino Four Letters Analysis & Discussion


After reading the letters, provide an analysis based on the following questions:

  • What kind of content is usually included? What is excluded? How do writers use examples and evidence in these genres?
  • What rhetorical appeals do these genres use? How does the writer gain authority, use logic, or appeal to emotions?
  • How is the text structured? Narrative organization, conceptual organization, or something else? What are the different parts of the text?
  • What kind of formatting is used? How long or short is the text? What kind of layout is used?
  • What kind of sentences do you notice in the genre? Are they complex or simple, passive or active? Is there sentence variety?
  • What kinds of language is used? Do you notice any specialized terms? Is it formal or informal? 

Write a short analysis of the letters and discuss how persuasive or effective the letters are (250-500 words) . You may also end your original post with a question to your readers. Post your original response on Wednesday, October 20th.

Respond to two peers by answering questions or engaging in a conversation, you may also add to their analysis by pointing out new details. Make sure you post your replies by Sunday, October 24th.

Peer posts:

Katie Chavez

The public letter to Hitler by Gandhi uses ethos and pathos to convey its argument. Gandhi uses his political position to establish authority, but addresses Hitler as a friend through his emotional appeal; his argument also focuses mainly on the humanitarian crisis that the war has caused. The letter uses conceptual organization, since the content is abstract; the writer first denounces Hitler’s actions, then compares Hitler’s violent strategy with Gandhi’s own non violent strategies against their common opponent, Britain. Lastly, Gandhi asks Hitler to reconsider his own methods and end the violence he started. The letter is only two pages long and is formatted as a typical friendly letter one would write to someone close to them. Therefore, the letter uses generally informal language in an active voice, though with complex sentences and a high vocabulary. Although the writer includes some of the countries that Hitler has conquered in its complaint, it overall does not include many specific examples of Hitler’s atrocities, or elaborate why Hitler’s conquering of these countries is considered “monstrous”. It does not delve beyond its conceptual, abstract discussion, and for that reason, I find this letter largely unpersuasive for the letter’s intended audience.

The demand letter uses logos and pathos in its rhetorical appeals. The writer explains in great detail how the couple met all the requirements and standards to be dismissed without any problems, whereas the police officers had no logical reason to detain the couple. The writer also expresses the couple’s intense feelings throughout their experience to garner sympathy from the reader. The text uses narrative organization because it tells the couple’s story in chronological order, from the point when they were initially pulled over, to the field sobriety test, to the citation. This is also formatted as a friendly letter of two pages, but unlike Gandhi’s letter to Hitler, this letter is more detail oriented and so includes smaller and more frequent paragraphs. The writer uses formal language and a generally passive voice with simple but concise words in order to clearly state the facts. The writer is careful not to focus on the couple’s suspicions of the officers and merely offer an account of what actually happened. I found this letter highly persuasive, as facts are difficult to dispute, whereas ethos and pathos are more subjective rhetorical appeals.

Evin Shefa

I am going to focus on the Elvis and the Sinead letters. Elvis did use some examples when he said “The drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. do not consider me as their enemy or as they call it the establishment.” Sinead’s example was herself, and relating back to Miley when she was in Hannah Montana. So, like Elvis she did not really use evidence either. However, evidence did not really seem necessary in this type of letter writing. Meaning hers, I think Elvis could have used more in his. The Elvis letter uses a lot of pathos to try and appeal to Nixon. The Sinead letter is clearly almost all pathos. It was obviously a very personal topic for Sinead, otherwise she wouldn’t have taken the time to write it ( along with other ones she followed after that one.) The Elvis letter was extremely simple, borderline concerningly simple for his age at the time. That letter had a strange feel to it, like it was kind of bouncing around from point to point, in a few instances. The Sinead letter, I wouldn’t say was not anything near complex, but it definitely had more depth than the Elvis one. Granted, I am sure Elvis probably had to write this letter fairly quickly. Overall, I would have thought the Sinead letter would have been more effective, seeing as though she was one of Miley’s idols and it had so much pathos behind it. From what I read online though, so far Miley has not responded and Sinead has even, as I mentioned earlier, followed up with additional letters. The Elvis letter did not seem like it was very persuasive in of itself, but Nixon would have been foolish to not at least have him help push his agendas, due to Elvis’s enormous pull at the time.


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