” Lynching of innocent men ” – Ida B. Wells

Since the lede of an article is supposed to be its first paragraph, the lede of Lynching of innocent men is a very long one. I still find it attractive for several reasons. It begins with an attack to the mob which brings strength, character and creates curiosity. As a reader, the question which comes into my mind after the first sentence is : “Why ?”. Ida B. Wells uses an anecdote to set up the mood. She speaks about the first event as if it is a story : she respects the chronological order of the facts. Other elements contribute to the fact that I want to read the rest of the article. There is no transition between the lede and the rest of the article, so I am already in the story. Plus, the end of the lede isn’t the end of the first anecdote. I ask myself “What’s next ?”. Moreover, this lede is very specific. As the article is a compiling of different stories which denounce the same issue, the lede just answers to “Who?” (the white mob and the black men) and “What?” (the unreliability of the mob’s punishment). For me, it is enough because each story has approximately the same context and the details will come through each anecdote.

There aren’t a lot of quotes in this article. The transcript of the dispatches is very long but it gives details. It is also more neutral than the rest of the text because it focuses only on the facts. The other quotes are from a man who charged a black man and from two black men. They bring intensity to the text. Their words have an impact on the story : they create emotion (pathos). The majority of the direct quotes are from the black men’s words. The mob doesn’t have any direct quotation and is seen as a group, not as individual persons. The quotes give credit to the victims. The author focuses on their point of view.

We can also see it through the vocabulary. On the first hand, the author uses the vocabulary of “horror” and negative words to describe the mob : “the absolute unreliability and recklessness of the mob”, “the ferocity of the mob”, “these savage orgies”, “heavily armed”, “barbarously”, “shockingly”. On the other hand, the vocabulary used to describe the black men is the opposite : “entirely innocent”, “unoffending”, “victim”, “orderly, peaceable boy”, “victims of Lynch Law”. The journalist uses very strong words and is a little bit cynical : “ […] a Negro (who dared) to defend his home) “.  The journalist judges these actions. She is totally biased. She gives the facts but doesn’t explain them : she condemns them.

Comments are closed.