The Burden of Knowledge

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Ashikur Chowdhury BHSEC Queens
English Literature Mr. Pickard The Burden of Knowledge
In the book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave written by himself, Douglass has very passionate and interesting opinions and feelings about how knowledge is a path to freedom. Douglass feels that everyone is entitled to a chance to be educated. As Douglass grows older, he concludes that slave owners mistreat their slaves because the white people believe that Christianity tells them to. In fact, when “Master Thomas” (68) mistreats his slaves, “in justification of the bloody deed, he [quotes] this passage of Scripture-‘He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes’” (68). Although Douglass gains a new understanding of the world he lives in, it also gives him a new abhorrence for his slave masters and the cruel misdeeds that they claim they commit in the name of God.Throughout his many adventures travelling from plantation to plantation, Douglass finds ways to either teach or learn reading and writing. He first gets this notion and desire for edification on Mr. Auld’s plantation when he meets his new mistress, Mrs. Auld. When he first meets her, she “very kindly commenced to teach [him] the A, B, C” (48). However, as soon as Mr. Auld finds out, he forbids Mrs. Auld from teaching by saying that “it [is] unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read” (48). Perhaps in some way, Mr. Auld is not only saying this as a precaution to himself, but to Douglass too. It is clearly understandable that Mr. Auld and other slave owners are frightful that if a slave learns to read, it will lead to an entire movement. On the other hand, if Douglass does learn to comprehend everything that is going on around him, he might not be able to handle it.Douglass takes any chance that he can get to try to learn. One way he does this is by...
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