He had long fought to learn to read and was so excited and eager to do so, he never expected the circumstances of this to be as dehumanizing as they were. He regretted learning to read because it brought him nothing but desperation, he learned his awful truth and that of his fellow slaves. "It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy." (Douglass, 24) The truth was that the more he learned the more he became aggravated, he knew there was not much he could do. It brought his moral down along with many other feelings, even a slave like Frederick had learned the awful feeling of
In order for Douglass to reach his goal of becoming a free man he thought the only way out was education. He needed to learn how to read, write, and think for himself about what slavery was. Since literacy and education were so powerful to Frederick he persevered to get himself the education he wanted. …. Douglass knew it wouldn’t be easy, but that didn’t stop him. Douglass realized the “ conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with a high hope, and
In the beginning of Douglass’ life, his only knowledge is the slave world and their duties. He knows the land, the families, and the brutal ways of life as a slave. When Douglass is sent to Baltimore to babysit, Mrs. Auld, his mistress, teaches him the alphabets. Mr. Auld tells her that she cannot teach a “nigger” no more because he thinks that ones they learn, they will be uncontrollable. This changes Douglass’s whole perception of slavery. He realizes that the only thing that stands between a slave and freedom is education. After Mrs. Auld stops teaching him, Douglass starts to read newspapers and books to teach himself how to read and write. The more Douglass learned, the more he starts to realize the ugliest side of slavery. This helps Douglass to be determined to put an end to slavery and eventually helps him escape. For Frederick Douglass, it was knowledge that freed him and changed his life so completely, and that he later uses to help other slaves. Knowledge was what gave Douglass a new life and determination to accomplish something instead of struggling his whole
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...
While writing about the dehumanizing nature of slavery, Douglass eloquently and efficiently re-humanize African Americans. This is most evident throughout the work as a whole, yet specific parts can be used as examples of his artistic control of the English language. From the beginning of the novel, Douglass’ vocabulary is noteworthy with his use of words such as “intimation […] odiousness […] ordained.” This more advanced vocabulary is scattered throughout the narrative, and is a testament to Douglass’ education level. In conjunction with his vocabulary, Douglass often employed a complex syntax which shows his ability to manipulate the English language. This can be seen in Douglass’ self-description of preferring to be “true to [himself], even at the hazard of incurring ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur [his] own abhorrence.” This is significant because it proves that Douglass can not only simply read and write, but he has actually obtained a mastery of reading and writing. This is a highly humanizing trait because it equates him in education level to that of the stereotypical white man, and how could one deny that the white man is human because of his greater education? It is primarily the difference in education that separates the free from the slaves, and Douglass is able to bridge this gap as a pioneer of the
In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, written by Frederick Douglass himself, is a story of Douglass’ courageous journey through the dark and wretched period of slavery, acting as almost as the slavery’s version of The Diary of Anne Frank. Douglass, a former slave, had an utmost strong desire to acquire the knowledge of literacy—the ability to read and write. In Chapter 6, Douglass overheard a discussion between different white men speaking about how that literacy would allow the slaves to understand their condition and make controlling them a seemingly impossible job for the slave-masters to deal with. With this knowledge in mind, Douglass decided to “set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost
Frederick Douglass proves himself tenacious, learning how to read and write even though it is illegal for slaves to do so, by receiving help from Mrs. Auld and resorting to his wit through using little boys on the street for help. Douglass’s persistence is first demonstrated when he describes his learning experience with Mrs. Auld, mentioning that he learned how to read and write basic English due
A source of inspiration for this paper is Douglass’ retelling of learning his ABCs. Douglass recalls the moment when Mr. Auld scolds his wife, Mrs. Auld, for teaching Douglass. The reason why Douglass should not be educated is harrowing, “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master--to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world” (Douglass 45). Consequently, this assertion of spoiling is caused by reading and literacy. Education gives Douglass the tools to question his existence resulting in a realization of oppression. Thus with the ability to read and write, he could escape by both literally and figuratively writing his own pass to freedom. From here Douglass realizes that the “...pathway from slavery to freedom...” was via education and that “...the argument which [Mr. Auld] so warmly waged, against my learning to read, only seemed to inspire me with a desire and determination to learn..” (Douglass 46). Passion and perseverance force Douglass to exchange ...
Have you ever wanted to stay home and watch movies all day instead of going to a boring day at school? There is a certain man who did everything in his capabilities to achieve at least, the partial knowledge most people take for granted today. From a selection of, “Learning to Read and Write”, a part of The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass: An American Slave (1841), Fredrick Douglass informs of the difficulties he overcame to learn how to become literate. Aside from the instruction of the alphabet from his mistress (Mrs. Hugh), Douglass self-taught himself from a young age how to read and write. Since his mistress abandoned instructing him from the direct influence of her husband, Douglass would befriend “poor white children” by offering
In the year 1826 Fredrick Douglass realized that he would eventually escape slavery. He would recount this thought four times in his life when he has to become most rebellious in order to survive slaveholders attempting to establish control and dominance in different ways. Each time one comes along Douglass responds using a different form of retaliation or rebellion to show his masters that they don’t own as much control over him as they think they do. All of these attempts to resist his masters control, slavery, and what slavery stood for were detrimental to Fredrick’s escape but the most influential one, the resistive act that started, and kept, the ball rolling was Fredrick’s determination to become literate. Knowledge is power and without his ability to read and write Douglass would have never escaped slavery or written a Narrative of his life.
Douglass’ introduction to reading and writing motivates his ambition to reshape his character, which inspires his escape to freedom. Discouraged by his slavery, Douglass suddenly experiences an epiphanic moment realizing that “to wit [is] the white man’s power to enslave the black man... From that moment [Douglass] understood the pathway from slavery to freedom” (78). He comes to perceive the connection between slavery and literacy skills. This crucial realization allows him to plan his way to freedom. He comprehends that literacy will serve as the vital bridge between oppression and liberty. Following his revelation, Douglass trades his physical bread with boys “who, in return, would give [him] that more valuable bread of knowledge” (83). Douglass sacrifices his health to receive the more important skills associated with literacy. His realizes that literacy will help guide his path to freedom and that transformation takes priority. He prizes the ability to read and write as a more precious commodity and his strategic trading helps converge his life of misery with his future life of liberty.
Slaves were forbidden to read and slave owners were forbidden to teach slaves to read and write. The existence of such a restriction on educating slaves is proof that the slaveholders felt a need to suppress the capabilities of slaves. As a slave, Douglass was given the opportunity to learn and elevate his status only to have all that, including the invitation to join "high" society snatched away. Such a tease and broken promise of a better day proved to be more than Douglass could bear. He devoted each of his idle moments to mastering the language arts. In addition, as if mastering it were not enough, Douglass meticulously educated other slaves in the English language of reading and writing. Douglass' action was indicative of the significance found in literacy. If he had not put literacy at such high esteem, he would not have taken the time to continue his education and persuade others to pursue theirs. Douglass knew first hand that education was a effective tool of empowerment especially to slaves—those who had spent their lives without any power. This separation of man from education was a control issue and reclaiming control meant education one's self and his or her peers. Through educating his peers, Douglass demonstrated his knowledge of the underlying power in literacy.
One day, Douglass eavesdrops on him and Mrs. Auld’s conversation. Mr. Auld persuades her that reading “could do him (Douglass) no good, but a great deal of harm.” (page 39) This antithesis along with the rest of his statement makes Douglass come to the realization that literacy is equated with not only individual consciousness but also freedom. From that day on, Douglass makes it his goal to learn as much as he can, eventually learning how to write,
Douglass was motivated to learn how to read by hearing his master condemn the education of slaves. Mr. Auld declared that an education would “spoil” him and “forever unfit him to be a slave” (2054). He believed that the ability to read makes a slave “unmanageable” and “discontented” (2054). Douglass discovered that the “white man’s power to enslave the black man” (2054) was in his literacy and education. As long as the slaves are ignorant, they would be resigned to their fate. However, if the slaves are educated, they would understand that they are as fully human as the white men and realize the unfairness of their treatment. Education is like a forbidden fruit to the slave; therefore, the slave owners guard against this knowledge of good and evil. Nevertheless, D...
During the days of slavery many slaves did not know the alphabet, let alone reading and writing. Douglass feels distant from his close ones and is often stressed about his situation. Sometimes, he would be so tensed that he feels that there is no other option than to take his own life in order to be free and escape the misery of slavery. Frederick Douglass was stressed and he would find himself “regretting [his] own existence, and now wishing [himself] dead;” he had no doubt that “[he] should have killed [himself]” (146). Douglass is clearly suffering from the knowledge he gains because it leads him to be estranged and makes him often want to end his own life. This is not a good practice for anyone in life for the reason that life is precious and it should never be taken for granted. Before Douglass learns how to read, he was content with his condition as a slave, but this proved a cruel incident that occurred in his life by making him