The Similarity Between Frederick Douglass and Amy Tan

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Mariama Barry
ENG110
Prof. Edmondson
12/11/12

Both stories “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan and “Learning to read” by Frederick Douglass talk about how language both helped and hurt them. In Amy’s Tan “Mother Tongue” she explains how language has affected her as a child. She began to noticing the type of English she used in her books and with her mother. On the other hand, Frederick Douglass also explains how language has helped him “forge” his Identity. As a slave, he did not know how to read or write. But after learning from his master the language has helped him discover who he was.

Frederick Douglass was born as a slave in Baltimore in 1818. He was raised by his grandparents after separated from his mother when he was only a few weeks old. At the age of six, he was sent to his master by his grandmother. His mistress started teaching him the alphabet, but when his mistress’s husband found out, he forbade her of teaching him because slaves were not allowed to learn how to read or write. But “Frederick Douglass took upon himself”. He started giving his food away just for the neighborhood boys to teach him how to read and write. At the age of twelve, he purchased a book that could help him understand more of the reading and writing, and also the power of spoken. It was during that he came with an idea of meeting with the slave breaker Edward Covey to help end slavery. According to a source “Their fight ended in a draw, but the victory was Douglass', as his challenge to the slavebreaker restored his sense of self-worth”. During his age of twenty, he finally succeeded in escaping by “impersonating a sailor”. Moreover, he began attending to abolitionist meetings, and anti-slavery conventions. That was the time he succeeded using the power of spoken and written language. Language helped Douglass presenting himself to the world. Because of his ability to read, write, and deliver speeches he was able to write an autobiography of his life as a slave. Also started...
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