Imagine yourself at the mercy of another human being. You are dependent upon this person for food and shelter. This person controls your life in every way possible. You are told when to wake up, what to do, how to do it and when to stop doing it. If you do not cooperate you will be beaten severely and possibly killed. Imagine society of people that live like this. How would human character be affected by this power? In Fredrick Douglass' piece "Learning to Read and Write" he writes "education and slavery were incompatible". I believe this true, but did he not learn how to read and write.
Fredrick Douglass was born in Maryland; he does not know the date of his birth, as did many slaves. He never really had a chance to know his mother, only having seeing her four or five times. Fredrick taught himself ho to read and write despite it being against his slave-owners wishes. He first started learning from poor white children in town. He would bring and extra loaf of bread with him when he was on errands to give these children in exchange for reading lessons. His Mistress was also at first supportive of him and his dream to read, but over time she began to grow hateful and would beat him if she saw him with a newspaper. Douglass later wrote "Education and slavery were incompatible". With these obstacles though he sill managed to learn a great deal about reading and writing. Frederick learned that learning how to read and write was his pathway to freedom, then gaining this knowledge was to become his goal. At home Frederick read parts of books and newspapers when he could, but he had to constantly be on guard against his Mistress. His Mistress screamed whenever she caught Frederick reading. His Mistress' attitude toward Frederick had changed; she no longer regarded him as any other child, but as a piece of property. However, Frederick gradually learned to read and write. With a little money he had earned doing errands, he bought a copy of The...
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