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

Length: 1111 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

“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...


... middle of paper ...


...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.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass Essay examples

- Frederick Douglass’s “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave” recounts the life of Frederick Douglass as a slave on his journey to finding freedom. As a slave, he was treated as a second-rate citizen and was not taught how to be literate. Literacy is the ability to read and write. Slaves were robbed of the privilege of reading and writing and thus robbed of any educational means. Without these educational means, slaves were not allowed to grow in society and have a sense of capability within society....   [tags: Slavery in the United States, Frederick Douglass]

Strong Essays
1737 words (5 pages)

The Use of Chiasmus to Highlight the Irony of Slavery in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas

- The Use of Chiasmus to Highlight the Irony of Slavery in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass According to Barton and Hudson's Contemporary Guide to Literary Terms, a chiasmus is a rhetorical scheme that is "particularly effective in creating irony through the reversal of accepted truths or familiar ideas" (189). Frederick Douglass uses the chiasmus throughout his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave to highlight the irony of slavery's existence in a country that was built upon the ideals of freedom....   [tags: Narrative Life Frederick Douglass]

Strong Essays
1516 words (4.3 pages)

Essay on Finding Identity in the Pathway from Slavery to Literacy

- You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” -Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life (1845) The most shameful practices of American history is the act of slavery from the whites to the African Americans. Many African Americans were born into slavery and forced to feel inferior towards their white masters. Actual human beings were treated like animals. The inhumane condition of slavery challenged African Americans to discover their individual true identity....   [tags: literary analysis, frederick douglass]

Strong Essays
1098 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass

- The autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave is about African American slave, social reformer, orator, writer, statesman, and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. The book is not a recommended read for children due to its advanced vocabulary and explicit content, but is highly encouraged to anybody from teens to elders. It recalls real life historical events that are told in a personal point of view, keeping the story interesting but factual at the same time. This narrative was written as an autobiography because the author, Frederick Douglass himself, wanted to personally share his life experiences growing up in slavery....   [tags: Slavery in the United States, Abolitionism]

Strong Essays
930 words (2.7 pages)

The Ingenuity of Frederick Douglass: Learning to Write Essay

- In his self-titled chronicle, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave", the author presents his audience with a memorable description of his resourcefulness in how he learned to write. His determination to shake off the bonds of illiteracy imposed by his slaveholders created in him the ability to conquer obstacles that held many slaves back. His mastery of the basic steps of the written language would one day play a central role in his success as a free man. The way these skills were acquired teaches us not only of his willpower, but also of his ingenuity as well....   [tags: American History]

Strong Essays
524 words (1.5 pages)

Analysis Of The General History Of Virginia, Washington Irving, And Frederick Douglass

- Reflections are meant to look back upon something, and in this case it is to look back on what was learned during this course. After reflecting on this course as a whole and what was learned, there has been a significant value gained of how to look deeper into the writing and look at more than just words on a page. It is this deeper knowledge of what the authors wrote that became a teaching point for myself in this course. Three of my favorite, as well as three of my least favorite readings were selected for this reflection....   [tags: Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson]

Strong Essays
1767 words (5 pages)

Frederick Douglass And Richard Wright Essays

- For Fredrick Douglass and Richard Wright, learning to read and write was far more than just a comprehensive and literate advancement. This would utterly aid both men to manifest a new perspective of themselves and the society they lived in. The process of learning to read and write would essentially reclaim a distinctness among their kin; moreover, impose a sense of freedom despite the complications they underwent. In an effort to fathom the current circumstances and relinquish their bewilderment about societal requisitions, Douglass and Wright bear the odds and limitations while still being able to attain, what they believed to be critical skills for a better understanding of how the natio...   [tags: Slavery in the United States, Slavery, Learning]

Strong Essays
925 words (2.6 pages)

Nat Turner's Confessions and Frederick Douglass' The Heroic Slave Essay

- Nat Turner's Confessions and Frederick Douglass' The Heroic Slave The names of Nat Turner and Frederick Douglass are remembered because of the fame that they earned as black Americans during pre-Civil War slave period. However, their names color the pages of history books for widely different reasons: Nat Turner led one of the greatest slave revolts in almost 150 years of slavery, while Frederick Douglass obtained his freedom and education, going on to become a renowned speaker, author, and public leader....   [tags: Essays Papers]

Strong Essays
2477 words (7.1 pages)

Literature And Literary Techniques Of Prince Hall And Richard Allen Creating Their Own Organizations

- Throughout history, African Americans have been faced with obstacles that some people couldn’t survive and others tried to prevail. This module included some passages from Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano showing the capability to learn and master the language and literary techniques to Prince Hall and Richard Allen creating their own organizations. We also read about Sojourner Truth, Maria Stewart and Mary Ann Shadd Cary speaking on behalf of women. Then we read about the slave abolitionists, real life narratives of slavery, and of people speaking out about the evilness of slavery....   [tags: Slavery, Black people, White people]

Strong Essays
1089 words (3.1 pages)

Slavery and The Corruption of Southern Belles in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas

- “But alas. This is kind heart but had but a short time remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influences of slavery, soon became red with rage, that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord, and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon.” (Douglas 19) This is how Frederick Douglas describes the change in his former mistress, Sophia Auld, as slavery corrupted her whole way of life....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
730 words (2.1 pages)