Learning to Read and Write

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Learning to Read and Write

By | September 2008
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LEARNING TO READ AND WRITE BY FREDERICK DOUGLASS

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey now known as Frederick Douglass was born in 1817 of a slave mother and an unknown white man in the state of Maryland. He was a man of valor, determined, and sensitive who resented the frequent abuses of his condition, yet he managed to learn how to read and write. Frederick Douglass details a process of change in the life and character of the woman he served as a house slave for. Despite his initial description of his mistress personality as a warm, devout and kind person, but not long after becoming a slave owner, he also saw first hand, how she caved into her husband’s pressure and transformed into a scoundrel. In the words of Douglass, this action is very typical of “Irresponsible Power”. In the situation he found himself, rather than resort to self pity, complains, or downcast he decided to improve his chances of being a better person. Resorting to learn the unconventional way, Douglass started mapping out strategies on how to learn to read by getting closer to the little white boys in his neighborhood, making them his teachers. He knew that the boys were not better off in capital. So, he traded his bread for knowledge. Even at that he still felt the burden of being a slave for life wherein he said to the boys “You will be free as soon as you are twenty-one, but, I am a slave for life”. The reality of him being a slave broke him down. However, at the verge of being downcast he came across a book called “The Columbian Orator”. He began reading the book with an unflagging satisfaction while going through the book he saw a dialogue between a man and a slave which really affected him since the discussion aptly describes his condition as a slave. Again, it was the speech, “The Sheridan Speech”, which he read, that made him reject oppression and got hold of a most brilliant vindication of man. As a result, he no longer wavered, because he had penetrated the...
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