Deborah E. McDowell “In the First Place: Making Frederick Douglass and the Afro-American Narrative Tradition”

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As both the narrator and author of “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, Written by Himself” Frederick Douglass writes about his transition from a slave to a well educated and empowered colored young man. As a skilled and spirited man, he served as both an orator and writer for the abolitionist movement, which was a movement to the abolishment of slavery. At the time of his narrative’s publication, Douglass’s sole goal of his writings was to essentially prove to those in disbelief that an articulate and intelligent man, such as himself, could have,in fact, been enslaved at one point in time. While, Douglass’ narrative was and arguably still is very influential, there are some controversial aspects of of this piece, of which Deborah McDowell mentions in her criticism. Deborah E. McDowell offers two prominent reasons as to why Douglass’s Narratve being seen as the center and most notably the origin of African-American literary tradition is flawed; these reasons are because of the structures that endorse the exclusion of femininity, and patriarchy of white di...

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