26 June 2012
Critical Analysis of Frederick Douglass’ “How I Learned to Read and Write” How I Learned to Read and Write by Frederick Douglass is a literary nonfiction essay that focuses on a small period of Douglass’ life. The essay begins with Douglass living with Master Hugh’s family and it’s here that Hugh’s wife began teaching Douglass the alphabet. Master Hugh put an end to the teaching sessions but that didn’t stop Douglass from finding a way to learn how to read and write. Douglass befriended little white boys and through their teaching he learned how to read. Douglass and the white boys would sometimes talk about slavery and Douglass expressed his wish to be free like they all would be as an adult. Douglass told the boys, “You will be free as soon as you are twenty-one, but I am a slave for life” (89). Knowing this weighed heavy on his heart and believing he would never be free was quite discouraging. Douglass then became eager to hear anyone speak of slavery and in some of these conversations the word abolitionist caught his attention. Learning what the word meant seemed to ignite Douglass’ hopes for freedom one day. One day Douglass seen a couple of men unloading stone and decided to jump in and help them. One of the men asked, “Are ye a slave for life” (Douglass 91). Douglass went on to tell the man that he was and then both of the men told him that he should runaway toward the North and be free. Only twelve at the time, Douglass acted not interested in the idea, but honestly wanted there to be a safe time to escape. But before that chance would arrive Douglass wanted to learn to write. Douglass learned letters off of boat timbers and would then have writing contest with boys he met for practice. He wrote on board fences, brick walls or pavement to copy letters with chalk. He practiced writing by copying the Italics in Webster’s Spelling Book and then moved on to his Master’s son’s used copy-book from school. After many years of...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document