Analyzing the Rhetorical Situation in Ronald Reagan’s Challenger Address

Speech Assignment



Analyzing the Rhetorical Situation in Ronald Reagan’s Challenger Address


In January 28, 1986, America woke to the sad news of the death of all the seven crew members who were aboard the Challenger spaceship. The space shuttle blew up during the phase of taking off and the then president, Ronald Regan addressed the nation on the Challenger disaster (BBC ON THIS DAY 1986).  Regan tolerates as amongst the most well-liked American presidents and his speeches for instance this one about the Challenger accident touched the people and it is absolutely a clear clue of his massive popularity. His speech is emotional, resilient, and poignant and this basically gives a picture of how his whole administration and more so his view as a person and a politician. Reagan speech recognized grief and more so mourned all along with the entire nation. Furthermore, the speech contained the most prominent features of his rhetoric: public relations, the appeals to ideals of freedom, referencing to God, and unself-conscious.


A rhetorical situation basically confers to a circumstance in which the people’s perceptive can be altered through messages. The elements applied during rhetoric analysis include: speech, speaker, occasion, and audience and each of them evaluate the eminence of the speech in this case Reagan’s speech. The American citizens had high prospect of the program of space exploration as they saw it as an outlet to bring the country an enormous sense of accomplishment towards science and technology. Therefore the addressees of the speech were the American public; the same people who had the knowledge the awful countrywide loss of 7 American astronauts as it emanated from the malfunction of the space administration. He as a public speaker involved the public all through the speech and he employed phrases like ‘us’ and ‘we’ and therefore providing the addressees a sense of attachment in the countrywide issue (Apple 1986).


Reagan’s speech was during a disaster and the audience expected him to pave the way forward and through a well planned forensic and deliberative speech, he was able to touch everyone and explain to the public how such occurrences were usual on the path of exploration “I know it’s hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen” (American Rhetoric: Ronald Reagan). The whole process of the space ship being launched was being televised on live TV, and the president knew the trauma of the entire nation and especially of the students who were watching it and the president took upon himself to eulogize the astronauts and exalt virtues to the general public. He called for a particular action which was to be characterized by risk-taking, diligence, and bravery in the issue of exploration and more so towards achieving mighty in science and technology. Therefore, Reagan’s speech was absolutely rhetoric in turning the people’s notion of the incident and seeing the positive side of it (Page 1986).









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Susan Page Newsday, Washington Bureau. (1986, Jan 29). Challenger/the shuttle Disaster; Reagan conveys nation’s sorrow. Newsday, pp. 19-19. Retrieved from

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