Franklin Douglass's Summary

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Douglass’ fifth paragraph on Chapter X begins with carefully depicted details, along with syntax and figurative language. The author uses the passage to portray the true hardships he has been faced with as a slave, and how beaten his soul and his life truly are. The first few lines discuss the routine of work; how work was to be done in all types of weather on any type of day. This use of detail soon transpires into figurative language as Douglass “was broken in body, soul, and spirit”. The use of types of weather as a main cause of being a broken spirit is actually very fitting; much like people feeling gloomy and down on any rainy day. While the other passages expressed the breakdown of Douglass’ soul and body, here Douglass went on to heighten this breakdown by contrasting his life as a slave to free sailboats. This shift and the difference between these two parts of the passage all reinforce the rhetorical purpose of the passage: that slavery completely transformed him from a human to an imprisoned animal.

In the passage, Douglass states that “the shortest nights were too long” and later describes slavery as the dark night, setting a dark and blackened tone. Douglass, however, enhances the gloomy mood of the passage by describing “those beautiful vessels, robed in purest white, so delightful to the eye of freeman”, as ghostly and terrifying. Also the repetition of the word “work” shows that the constant work seemed to have “transformed {him} into a brute.”

The passage is filled with literary devices and written in a monologue format to add drama and strengthen the true power of his words. The use of parallel structure in the sentence, “You are loosed from your moorings, and are free; I am fast in my chains, and am a slave”, is shown by the contrasting ‘you’ and ‘I’ statements in which Douglass speaks to the ships that are sailing free, as he is imprisoned as a slave. This contrast of absolute freedom of the ships and the...
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