Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave Essay

Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave Essay

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Slavery in North America flourished for over 245 years, having the first African American slave auctioned off in 1619. It was not until December 6, 1865 that the United States abolished slavery under the ratification of the thirteenth amendment. Before their liberation, African American slaves were treated brutally and were restricted access to any sources of education. Although education was illegal for slaves, several African Americans like Frederick Douglass, secretly learned from their masters in realization that education was the only source to freedom. Through the use of a few select rhetorical devices, Douglass effectively characterizes the importance of knowledge in a slave-holding society in his autobiography, “From Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.”
Douglass writes in the first-person narrative to convey his dramatizing experiences as an educated African American slave. Unlike his peers, his perception of slavery is much more realistic and depressing due to his understanding of his plight situation. For instance, he states, “The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers […] I loathed them as being the meanest as well as the most wicked of men” (334). He is distressed by the hopeless position he is in and the “everlasting thinking of [his] condition tormented [him]” (334). Douglass talks about his seven-year experience under the Hughs. During those years, he accomplished the skill of reading and writing under his mistress’s care; however the short time of hope came to a very abrupt stop when his master advised her to cease the instructing. Douglass writes, “a kind and tender-hearted woman; and in the simplicity of her soul she commenced, when I first went to live with h...


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... do anything about it. This is why he calls his knowledge a “curse.” He feels trapped and helpless in his position as well as for his peers. Although Douglass was devastated about reality, he understood that knowledge was his only hope to freedom. It gave him determination. He states, “I deemed this knowledge of the utmost importance. My determination to run away was again revived.” His “determination” gave him hope for the day of liberation.
Slavery has been around for over two centuries and did not stop until the ratification of the thirteenth amendment, which was the abolition of slavery. Slave owners were ruthless and restricted African American slaves from access to education. Frederick Douglass explains his experience as a slave through the use of first person narrative and portrays the importance of education for slaves through the use of dialogue and diction.

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