24 September 2012
Knowledge is the Key to Freedom
Frederick Douglass was born a slave in 1818, a time when slaves were forbidden to have an education he succeeded in teaching himself to read and write. In Frederick Douglass’ Learning to Read, the audience was given a front row seat that allowed a glimpse inside the true depth and extent of slavery. Douglass expressed emphasis on literacy and the impact it had on slavery by revealing how slavery was detrimental not only to slaves but slave owners, how the path to educate himself caused mental anguish, and how literacy became his key to freedom.
In the beginning, the master’s wife viewed Frederick as her equal and didn’t see anything wrong with educating him. Douglass said of his first teacher “She at first lacked the depravity indispensable to shutting me up in mental darkness" (346), then she realized that educating a slave meant giving them a voice. Slavery had the power to turn a kind and caring person into a callous and cruel brute. “Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger like fierceness” (Douglass 346). She ceased to instruct him and made sure nobody else would. “Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking ell” (347). Frederick Douglass was a brilliant man and determined to learn how to read. Douglass turned children into teachers and through an exchange of bread successfully learned how to read. In Learning to Read, Douglass wanted to name the boys who helped him as “a testimonial of the gratitude and affection I bear them”(347), but instead stated where they lived. Douglass writes about the steps he took when learning to read and goes as far to include where the children lived that help him succeed establishes accurate logic.
The path Frederick Douglass traveled to pursue his education was a roller-coaster...