Levels of Literacy in African-American Literature - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Song of Solomon, and Push Through literacy will come emancipation. So runs a theme throughout the various selections we have read thus far. But emancipation comes in many forms, as does literacy. The various aspects of academic literacy are rather obvious in relation to emancipation, especially when one is confronted with exclusion from membership in the dominant culture. In the various slave narratives we have examined, all but one writer, Mary Prince, managed to achieve academic literacy to varying degrees (although, Mary Prince was in the process of learning to read and write). And even though she was not literate, Mary was still able to have her story told. Frederick Douglass, made it a point to attain literacy at any cost. Most, but not all, of Toni Morrison's characters in Song of Solomon appear to have attained at least a modicum of literacy. In Push, Sapphire has her protagonist, Precious, pointed down a long road toward at least a minimal form of academic literacy that will allow her to become a more functional human being and a much more productive member of society. What part does literacy play in the advancement of the individual, and to what lengths will one go to achieve it? What part must the individual play to make certain that literacy leads to the desired or implied advancement? And, finally, is there a cost for literacy, or is it always something gained? Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass As a relatively young man, Frederick Douglass discovers, in his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, that learning to read and write can be his path to freedom. Upon discovering that... ... middle of paper ... ...he past, but Douglass and Precious can use their connections with the past as means to avoid its mistakes. So all three find a personal use for what once was reality as a promise for a more fulfilling reality in the future. And in a certain sense, all three find emancipation through their disparate relationships with literacy. Works Cited Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. The Classic Slave Narratives. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York: New American Library, 1987. 243-331. Gates, Henry Louis. The Classic Slave Narratives. New York: New American Library, 1987. Graff, Harvey J. The Literacy Myth: Literacy and Social Structure in the Nineteenth-Century City. New York: Academic Press, 1979. Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Penguin Books USA, Inc., 1987. Sapphire. Push. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.