Learning to Read and Write (Fredrick Douglass Reading Responce)

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The Essay “Learning to Read and Write” by Fredrick Douglass is a reminiscent type writing where Douglass talks about how he learned to read. Douglass, a slave growing up in Maryland was not allowed to read or write. So his mistress, the slave master’s wife, taught him to read even though it was forbidden. The mistress Soon stopped for a reason that was never clarified but it was probably because the master found out about Douglass learning to read and made his mistress stop teaching him. So to read and write with help from no one, Douglass goes to a lumber yard and copies the letters written on the wood and studies them. Another tactic Douglass uses is challenging the white children to a writing competition of sorts, where he would write something and the other child had to write something better. After doing this for a while Douglass had a good basis to learn from. The master’s son was also learning to read and write and had a book where he took notes, when the family left Douglass alone to clean the house, he sometimes picked up the child’s writing book and copied it so that he may learn more.

“Learning to read and write” was written in 1845, the dialect from that time period had the words “ye” and “thou” which mainly replaced the word “you”. The word choices in this essay may prove difficult to someone who does not do much reading but personally I had no problems with the vocabulary of this essay. Knowing the definitions of certain words will help if one was to run into those words, also knowing certain words will help one use context clues to further unlock the full meaning of the essay.

When Douglass stated “Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever” he made a powerful statement that contains more information than its eight words make it seem. The “freedom” that Douglass is referring to is the ability to learn. One can be taught, but once he learns to read his mind may expand infinitely. In the Bible it says “Give a man a fish and he eats for...
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