Forms of appeal

In the sections of “The American Promise” that appear in the textbook Worlds of English, Barack Obama mostly relies on ethos and pathos.


A great deal of Obama’s speech relies on ethos. At the beginning, Obama uses his personal example to suggest that America has helped him fulfill his dreams. This shows that Obama is speaking from personal experience and that he can understand the feelings of ordinary Americans:

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story – of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to. (p. 109, ll. 1-4)

Obama shows that he shares the values of many Americans through his description of what the American promise means to him, and through his reference to his family: “That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours…” (p. ...

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