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JFK Steel Speech Rhetorical Analysis

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In 1962, the United States was emerging from a recession and the biggest steel organizations raised its costs by 3.5%. Kenndey, alongside numerous different Americans, was irritated encompassing the choice to raise steel costs. While Kenndey addresses the choice he utilizes numerous instances of rhetorical strategies such as cause-and-effect and comparing and contrasting, to represent his disappointment and irritation with the corporations. He provides the individuals of this nation with the expectation that this national issue will be settled.

Since the large companies challenge the public’s best interest their actions are also very irresponsible and unnecessary. During this time of economic distress, the public at large had more important issues to respond to than the steel company's raising their steel prices. In the second paragraph of Kennedy's speech, he dedicates one long sentence to the entirety of the paragraph to account for the handful of interests the public is already involved in. The length of the sentence provokes thoughtfulness and permits the function which is needed to clarify and see why the public interest is affected when steel companies are to raise their prices. Included in the sentence is an emotional argument Kennedy uses when he states in lines 12-13, “four [reservists] were killed in the last two days in Vietnam.” The argument presented appeals to the public's emotions and evokes them to contemplate how the steel companies defiance of the public’s interest have disregarded the lives lost of the people protecting our country and making it a safe place

According to Kennedy, the steel company's actions are also irresponsible. He proclaims, “...steel executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility can show such utter contempt for their interests of 185 million Americans.”(lines 17-20) Kennedy uses this statement to try and get a response from steel executives of breaking their honorable responsibilities. Kennedy makes his argument stronger when he appeals to the steel company's selfish actions to not just the country, but all 185 million Americans with him. The use of the word contempt describes the actions of the steel companies and provides the audience with more meaning than what it shows. The strong use of words suggests the company's actions be selfish and show disrespect to the public because of how the steel companies failed to meet their requirements of the public.

These thoughtless actions of large companies challenge the public's interest which hurts the citizens of this country. This statement given by Kennedy throughout lines 22-26, says that the steel prices are “Imitated by the rest of the industry” the effect will be an increase in the cost of “homes, autos, appliances, and most other items for every American family” as well as an increase in the cost of “machinery and tools” which will greatly impact “every American businessman and farmer, ” is an argument in the form of cause-and-effect. This will inform Kennedy’s audience of the effects. He also makes a point that the increase will “prevent efforts” at stopping and “inflationary spiral” from occurring which would in fact “[eat] up the pensions from older citizens.” Kennedy describes large steel companies as “eating” elderly pensions, which is an example of personification. He utilizes personification when he characterizes the steel organizations as “eating” elderly pensions, which then suggests that the organizations are consuming large sums of cash set something aside for the old residents of this nation.

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As the expansion in steel value impacts the residents of the U.S. it likewise harms the nation overall. Kennedy expresses that as per his secretary McNamara, he is educated that the expansion in steel costs would include 'an estimated $1 billion to the cost of our defenses.' (lines 33-34) Kennedy makes a logical claim by advising his listeners about the impacts regarding the steel costs being excessive on the national defense system when 'each dollar is needed for national security and other purposes.' Kennedy suggests in the fourth section (lines 37-40) that raising steel costs makes it “more difficult for American goods to compete in foreign markets, more difficult to withstand competition from imports, and thus more difficult to improve our balance of payments position, and stem the flow of gold.” He infers the technique of reiteration while posting, by saying the expression 'more difficult” repeatedly. This is executed to underline the negative influences wearing on our nation's foreign policy actions as steel prices increase.

Kennedy proclaims the fact that the rise in steel prices was completely unnecessary. He supports his claim with logical arguments proving but that the rise in steel prices was avoidable because the steel companies were already highly successful. Kennedy emphasizes that the large steel industries “ cash dividends have exceeded $600 million in each of the last five years.” (lines 70-71) The claim that Kennedy presents supports the argument that the steel companies are already creating a huge number of dividends at “600 million dollars” which shows that raising prices isn’t essential to their success. Kennedy later declares “earnings in the first quarter of this year were estimated in the February 28 Wall Street Journal to be among the highest in history.” (lines 71-74) He mentions a credible source of one of the most distinguished business magazines in the Wall Street Journal which included details debating futile actions of the steel companies. These facts supported Kennedy's claims showing that the steel industry's revenue is close to history’s highest, proving that raising steel prices during this period isn’t necessary to create profit.

Since the expansion in steel costs hurt residents and our nation, Kennedy warrants legislatures mediation on the issue. Kennedy stands up for, 'The Steelworkers union can be proud that it abided by its responsibilities in this agreement, and this government has responsibilities, which we intend to meet,'(lines 84-87) he is using an example of parallel construction into his lecture. This is then applied to look into the Steelworkers association and government duties. In the next paragraph, Kennedy communicates expectations and urgency as he talks about a few government organizations, for example, the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, and Department of Defense, and the activities each have actualized in 'examining the significance' of expansion in steel costs. His tone here is authorizing to his crowd that a move is being made upon this national issue.

The steel company's actions were overall pointless and irresponsible, and continuously challenged the public's interest. Although steel corporations are built to generate revenue, they still play a big part in the well-being of this country. In spite of making a benefit, they are answerable for serving the individuals and nations with a product that is utilized to improve the proficiency and prosperity of our country. This duty can't be met if costs are expanded to a point that hurt our economy as well as keep our country from exceeding expectations to be its best.


I feel my essay is a 3.5/4 because of my sophisticated word choice, evidence that establishes credibility, and a strong thesis and conclusion. Thesis: I give myself an 8. I do incorporate a thesis that responds to the prompt, as well as listing examples of some of the rhetorical strategies. Evidence: I give myself a 30. My evidence is relevant to my thesis and has direct quotes with specific lines throughout my essay. Commentary: I give myself a 35. The reason I gave myself the highest amount of points for this section was that it explained the relationship between the evidence and the thesis very well, and it is the main point, commentary, throughout this essay, which is to analyze the rhetorical strategies. Sophistication: I gave myself an 8. The reason is that I explain the significance of the text's purpose, I made effective rhetorical choices, and I utilize a prose style that is especially direct and informative. Overall I thought I was most proud of finding good quotes to support claims, good structuring of topic sentences, and did a good job of connecting back to the previous paragraphs. What I was struggling with, and what challenged me was sentence variety, concluding sentences that wrapped up my paragraphs, and relating evidence to rhetorical strategies.

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JFK Steel Speech Rhetorical Analysis. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from
“JFK Steel Speech Rhetorical Analysis.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
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JFK Steel Speech Rhetorical Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2024 Mar 4]. Available from:
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