Dialectic Journal

Topics: Slavery, Slavery in the United States, Abolitionism Pages: 6 (2691 words) Published: January 12, 2015
Dialectic Journal
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

“Fortunate, most fortunate occurrence!- fortunate for the millions of his manacled brethren…-fortunate for the land of his birth…-fortunate for himself…gave the world assurance of a man.”

Fortunate, being the theme of the occurrence of Frederick Douglass’s speech at the convention shows the magnitude of the occurrence, resembling a commemoration of his survival and the works of abolishing slavery at that time. It adds value to the narrative, showing that it was and is a very big deal and major stepping stone of the abolitionists and slavery. Pref

Long sentence/
Syntax/ Allusion

“I shall never forget his first speech at the convention…powerful impression it created…never hated slavery so intensely as at that moment…there stood…a prodigy…yet a slave…PATRICK HENRY, of revolutionary fame, never made a speech more eloquent in the cause of liberty, than the one we had just listened to.”

Garrison’s elevated level of writing, powerful use of words, and style of writing empowers readers, the audience being that of the 1840s, to believe in the cause of the abolitionists and the commitment in protecting Douglass and other slaves. He goes on to compare Douglass to Henry, a known and highly regarded white revolutionist, showing the intellect that can be obtained by a negro, a savage beast. Pref

“Yet how deplorable was his situation! what terrible chastisements were inflicted upon his person! what still more shocking outrages were perpetrated upon his mind!...by those professing to have the same mind in them that was in Christ Jesus!”

Garrison chooses to use exclamation marks in place of commas, arousing a sense of urgency and injustice inflicted upon slaves like Frederick, as if he were shouting out through the pages of the book. Pref

Short Sentence

The two shortest sentences in Garrison’s preface that show up in the end aggregate to give the reader something to stand by and sums up his preface perfectly, resembling somewhat of a motto for abolitionists. 13


“By far the larger part of slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs…I know nothing….my mother and I were separated when I was but an infant-before I knew her as my mother.”

There is a drastic change in the style of writing of Garrison and Frederick, but Douglass evokes and commands the same amount of passion within his writing by showing the animalistic dehumanization of slaves, demonstrating how a slave is “made”. 15

Evocative imagery

“…whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood. No words, no tears, no prayers…the louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped the longest.”

The evocative imagery of Frederick’s first sight of a whipping evokes pathos in the readers, recreating his own emotions and instilling them within us, as if we were capable of imagining such atrocities. The parallelism is then used to show how Aunt Hester has no power and no way of stopping a whipping, being utterly helpless. 16


“It (the first sight of whipping he saw) struck me with an awful force. It was the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery…It was a most terrible spectacle.”

The continued parallelism helps elucidate the emotions stirred over Frederick from the sight of the whipping, defining it in multitude of ways, comparing it to a blood-stained gate to hell, provoking pathos. 17

Short Sentences

“I expected it to be my turn next. It was all new to me. I had never seen any thing like it before.”

These short sentences recreate the feeling of shock, the pounding blows inflicted upon his mind from the scene of the whipping. 18

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