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Frederick Douglass: Learning to Read and Write

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Frederick Douglass: Learning to Read and Write

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  • November 7, 2012
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Frederick Douglass’ narrative, “Learning to Read and Write” talked about how he accomplished the feat of becoming a literate individual through the use of self-teaching at a young age. Douglass describes the ways in which he enlisted the aid of young children to assist him with his learning. He also went into detail about how his newly acquired abilities “had been a curse rather than a blessing”. (p. 3) Douglass accounted how his ability to read later on assisted him in his succession with “learning how to write” (p. 5)

I was able to relate with Frederick Douglass in how he had minimal help with learning how to read. Being a soldier in the Army, I must learn to be an independent individual and acquire knowledge on tasks and drills that would otherwise be unknown to me. The narrative illustrates my personal views of the world, in that learning something new is not always going to be as easy as it seems, and may require additional assistance from other people. Douglass clearly communicated his defined struggle with his journey to learn how to read, and eventually write, after years upon years of personal determination and courage. His dedication to become a more intelligent being and literate person inspires me to better myself as a person and as a soldier.

Frederick Douglass’ narrative reopened my mind to the personal courage and dedication it takes to walk down the path of becoming successful at anything. It portrays the message that whatever I put my mind to, I will eventually be able to accomplish anything, regardless of the obstacles I will face. Although Douglass’ writing touched me on many levels, I felt that when he immediately stereotyped the two Irishmen that he encountered in town, he was wrong, in the sense that not everyone is the same. By him labeling them as “treacherous” (p. 5), he allowed himself to be no better than a man who would jump to the assumption that he was someone else’s slave. “Learning to Read and Write” was an enjoyable and...