Literary Anlaysis Essay of "How I Learned to Read and Write" by Frederick Douglass

Literary Anlaysis Essay of "How I Learned to Read and Write" by Frederick Douglass

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“How I Learned to Read and Write” by Frederick Douglass is the story of one young man’s pursuit for intelligence, proficiency, and literacy. This selection describes the challenges Douglass himself faces as he conquers his aspirations to read and write amidst his enslavement. The literary nonfiction forms that I found to be most prevalent throughout the excerpt were a sense of place, and personal experience. Innumerable times throughout Douglass’s essay he refers to specific locations, establishing the setting in which his story takes place. Douglass gives an account of various personal experiences during the whole of the discourse, granting readers the opportunity to connect individualistically with the author. Correspondingly, Douglass merges all together the two forms, a sense of place as well as personal experience within the piece.
Based on the author’s use of a sense of place throughout the essay, the reader is able to put into specific context the author’s environment. Providing the reader with a sense of place in the text is essential because it initiates a scene and generates an imaginable background. A sense of place generates the “where” of the story or event. An example of this within the selection is, “The idea as to how I might learn to write was suggested to me by being in Durgin and Bailey’s ship-yard, and frequently seeing the ship carpenters, after hewing, and getting a piece of timber ready for use, write on the timber the name of the part of the ship for which it was intended. I soon learned the names of these letters, and for what they were intended when placed upon a piece of timber in the ship-yard. I immediately commenced copying them, and in a short time was able to make the four letters named.” The pict...

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...s, as the he portrays his individual hardships.
In conclusion, two important literary nonfiction forms that Frederick Douglass identifies in “How I Learned to Read and Write” are a sense of place, and personal experience. Douglass’s essay executed examples of these two forms separately as well as together, numerous times throughout his piece. Douglass centralized his writing around his personal experiences, studying and accomplishing the ability to read and write despite the many difficulties he faced. The portrayal of a sense of place ingrained throughout his writing sheds a light on the locations and stages in his life he experienced these events. He was able to successful correlate these two forms together to create an unforgettable and inspirational story. A story of overcoming adversity, and achieving the impossible in a time whenever all odds were against him.

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