Learning to Read and Write
Literacy First Step for freedom
Frederick Douglass in this fragment of his autobiography he tells us how with diverse tricks he succeeds in learning to read and write in an environment where slaves weren’t allowed to be literate. As he matured and developed his linguistic skills, the essence of his thoughts, and the level of understanding had transformed his ideas of freedom.
The story takes place in Maryland in 1820’s. In the South slavery was consider to be an indispensable for the economy of the plantations. At this time, slaves weren’t allowed to be literate. Masters knew that literacy and slavery weren’t compatible. Only being ignorant they wouldn’t question the reason why they were slaves. Douglass let us know in this part of his autobiography about the big opposition from his masters to his literacy. His master was complete oppose for him to be literate. His mistress who, at the beginning, started teaching him how to read stopped for instance of her husband and became strongly oppose to his literacy. Frederick Douglass masters knew that he would start questioning his situation as a slave as soon as he learned how to read: “As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! That very discontented which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read”. The Masters also knew that not being able to read he couldn’t read the news. It’s important that learning how to read make him able to know what it’s happening at the time in the world. The news was especially important in this story because he could be having notice of what was happening in the North. That is why his mistress will get angry to see him with a newspaper the northern papers gave reasoning why slavery was unethical and should be abolished.
The essence of his thoughts and the level of understanding had transformed his ideas of freedom. He compares how was him before reading, being an “idiot” he didn’t suffer knowing about the...
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