Frederick Douglass

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AN AMERICAN SLAVE

Although Frederick Douglass was a black man that spent all of his childhood and most of his adult life a slave, he was determined to become a free man. With some obstacles along the way and some set backs he was able to achieve his goal. Douglass found that learning to read and write was his ticket to becoming a free man. He wasn’t sure how he was going to learn how to read and write, but he found ways to learn. In chapters 6, 7, and 8 of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass uses a process to describe how he became educated and how he began to think about and want freedom. Douglass’ method of dividing his essay into two parts is to use a cause an effect relationship between learning to read and write and an awareness of the “wretched condition” of being a slave and his desire to become free. The first process that Douglass uses in his Narrative is how he learned to read and write. He was born a slave. He had a master and a mistress Mr. and Mrs. Auld. Mrs. Auld was a kind-hearted and gentle person in the beginning, who felt compelled to teach Douglass how to read. She taught Douglass the A, B, C’s and soon after that was teaching him how to spell small words of three to four letters. Mr. Auld found out about the teachings and begins scolding Mrs. Auld about what happens when you teach a black man how to read. He said that it is “unlawful as well as unsafe” to teach a slave how to read. He will become “unmanageable and of no value to his master.” He say’s that “if you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell.” As to Douglass it could do him “no good, but a great deal of harm.” Hearing those words made him even more eager in pursuing an education. Even though Mrs. Auld stopped teaching Douglass how to read he was still glad by what he had learned from her and still persistent as ever in learning more. He begins to think about freedom and the process by which he needs to take to become free.

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