Initially, DuBois includes Ethos in his book to persuade the reader of his argument. An example of this is shown as DuBois justifies his profound declarations by utilizing his personal participation in the matters he speaks of. One of his most well-known beliefs is the ‘Veil’, a concept that argues Blacks in America are not seen as ‘true’ Americans by Whites solely because of their skin color, and as a result the Black people in America only view themselves as how the country’s White society distinguishes them (Carter). After defining the ‘Veil’ to his readers, he questions, “And, finally, need I add that I, who speak here, am bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of them that live within the Veil?” (Dubois 7). DuBois is announcing that his deep involvement within the ‘Veil’ is rich because of the impacts the concept has had on his life. DuBois exposes his involvement in such a manner that pushes the reader to understand he is the quintessence of a person living within the ‘Veil’. Therefore, his life experiences allow him to be the most knowledgeable on the topic. The readers are then compelled to trust what he states since he is now characterized as a credible source. The author intentionally speaks of his deep engrossment within the ‘Veil’ because its increase in Ethos persuades his readers to believe in the concept. Along with Ethos, DuBois intentionally writes with a more logic-based rhetoric to persuade his audience, as I now discuss.
Additional to Ethos, DuBois’ book contains Logos to assist with the essays’ goal of persuasion. For example, DuBois utilizes historical documents to convince the reader of the conditions African Americans were forced to endure. In the beginning of each essay in The Souls of Black Folk the author includes an African American spiritual and its accompanying musical score. To introduce the second essay, “Of the Dawn of Freedom”, Dubois quotes, “Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s lessons but record one death-grapple in the darkness ‘twixt old systems and the Word; truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne; Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown standeth God within the shadow keeping watch above His own” (Dubois 27). America has a very unpleasant history for which the lessons taught are ignored. As an alternative, the history is recorded, and it is seen to be an infinite fight between the people’s religion and the integrated systems. Additionally, the powerful Americans that run the country look down upon the historical truth; this decision is essentially what determines the country’s future. But in the midst of America’s wrongs, God is believed to be watching all actions. The spiritual lyrics speak evidently to the country’s wrongs, specifically in its recording of history. Providing what DuBois refers to as a ‘sorrow song’ in the very beginning of an essay, the reader is encouraged to analyze not only the piece’s underlying meaning, but also the author’s purpose for including it (Pierce). In the essay following the spiritual quoted above, DuBois reflects on the failures of the Freedmen’s Bureau’s role during the Reconstruction. When reading DuBois’ argument, the spiritual gradually exposes its connection and results in strong supporting evidence. There is parallelism among the spiritual mention of America’s recorded historical lies and his claim that blames the Bureau’s failures on the corrupt government systems and the overarching national denial of certain racist factors (Leiter). This method of persuasion is successful as it gives his writing Logos-based support, but to make his arguments stronger DuBois purposely decides to use support that plays on the readers’ emotions, as I now discuss.
Alternative to the other rhetorical devices, the author deliberately includes Pathos as a mode of persuasion for his book. For example, DuBois convinces the reader to continue reading his work through his perfectly placed use of intimate language. Another one of DuBois’ most well-known beliefs is the ‘color-line’, a concept that claims this century’s racial conflict between Blacks and Whites is the dominant issue. Even to this day the author’s ‘color-line’ can be seen evidently in our current society. DuBois introduces this concept by stating, “the strange meaning of being black here in the dawning of the 20th century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line” (DuBois 4). DuBois believes that the ‘color-line’ is important for everyone to understand because it affects every American, regardless of their skin color or race, and this dispute is the problem of the current 20th Century (Banks). Represented by the words “Gentle Reader” and “you”, the author is clearly speaking with a more personal tone than compared to the rest of his book. Previous to the quote above, DuBois was describing in impressive detail to the reader the dissolving of slavery, the failure of Reconstruction, and the cultivation of Social Darwinism (Cruz 24). The combination of these moments in history create a very heavy and thought-provoking environment for the readers. But forcing this mood for too long can cause the readers to lose interest and essentially bore them. Thus, DuBois chooses to transition into a more refreshing tone while introducing the new claim – the reality in the ‘color-line’. His strategic vocabulary successfully catches the reader’s’ attention and potentially brought any lost readers back to the pages with full interest (Cruz 24). This intentional connection he makes with the readers allows for the writing to exercise Pathos, and in return make his writing more persuasive. Now, the persuasion due to the three rhetorical devices will be examined.
As the final analysis, W. E. B. DuBois formulates the notably persuasive collection of essays that comprise The Souls of Black Folk through his strategic use of Aristotle’s modes of persuasion; the rhetorical devices proven to be used were Ethos, Logos, Pathos. Resulting from his persuasive writings, the DuBois is currently viewed as one of America’s greatest authors. His persuasion is historical as it led to the progress of racial equality within the country and purposeful social change.