top-rated free essay

Learning to Read and Write (Fredrick Douglass Reading Responce)

By Tevinmcleod Nov 07, 2010 592 Words
The Essay “Learning to Read and Write” by Fredrick Douglass is a reminiscent type writing where Douglass talks about how he learned to read. Douglass, a slave growing up in Maryland was not allowed to read or write. So his mistress, the slave master’s wife, taught him to read even though it was forbidden. The mistress Soon stopped for a reason that was never clarified but it was probably because the master found out about Douglass learning to read and made his mistress stop teaching him. So to read and write with help from no one, Douglass goes to a lumber yard and copies the letters written on the wood and studies them. Another tactic Douglass uses is challenging the white children to a writing competition of sorts, where he would write something and the other child had to write something better. After doing this for a while Douglass had a good basis to learn from. The master’s son was also learning to read and write and had a book where he took notes, when the family left Douglass alone to clean the house, he sometimes picked up the child’s writing book and copied it so that he may learn more.

“Learning to read and write” was written in 1845, the dialect from that time period had the words “ye” and “thou” which mainly replaced the word “you”. The word choices in this essay may prove difficult to someone who does not do much reading but personally I had no problems with the vocabulary of this essay. Knowing the definitions of certain words will help if one was to run into those words, also knowing certain words will help one use context clues to further unlock the full meaning of the essay.

When Douglass stated “Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever” he made a powerful statement that contains more information than its eight words make it seem. The “freedom” that Douglass is referring to is the ability to learn. One can be taught, but once he learns to read his mind may expand infinitely. In the Bible it says “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. As soon as someone learns to read they have the opportunity to have all the knowledge in the universe, and through knowledge, one can destroy ignorance. Douglass seemed to like figurative language, preferably metaphors. One metaphor he uses in his essay is, “mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the inch and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell” (156). In this clever metaphor the word “ell” is an older version of the modern word “mile” and Douglass is basically saying that once he learned the alphabet he had the necessary tools to learn to fully read and expand his vast knowledge, he would stop at nothing. Another nice metaphor Douglass uses is “it opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out”. Normally the slaves were forced to be illiterate; this mass illiteracy caused the slaves to be ignorant of the situation that they were in. Douglass however was not illiterate, he could read and write, which gave him the knowledge he needed to realize that the conditions he was living in was wrong and unethical whereas the other slaves accepted it as normality. Douglass was shown how bleak and horrible his situation was through reading, but he was shown no way out.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Frederick Douglass: Learning to Read and Write

    ...Frederick Douglass’ narrative, “Learning to Read and Write” talked about how he accomplished the feat of becoming a literate individual through the use of self-teaching at a young age. Douglass describes the ways in which he enlisted the aid of young children to assist him with his learning. He also went into detail about how his newly acq...

    Read More
  • Learning How to Read and Write

    ...Being the second youngest in my family out of five children, you would think that reading would be easy for me growing up. But learning how to read was a challenge. It was something that I never thought I would be able to do without a lot of help from my father. Being brought up with my father, a single parent we had our ups and downs. My f...

    Read More
  • Learning to Read and Write

    ...Alana Roberts Essay I February 26th, 2013 “Learning to Read and Write” by Fredrick Douglas is a story about a slave breaking the bondage of ignorance by learning to read and write. During the course of 7 years Douglas discreetly teaches himself to read and write by means of stealing newspapers, trading food with poor white boys for know...

    Read More
  • Learning How to Read and Write

    ...26, 2014 Learning How to Read and Write By Frederick Douglass “Learning how to Read and Write by Frederick Douglass is based on the very unfair life of this little boy (Douglass) who was born a slave. In his essay Douglass began expressing how his mistress was a very kind woman when he met her. This kind woman started to teach ...

    Read More
  • Narrative of Fredrick Douglass Reading Log

    ...Reading Logs- The Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass 1. Review vocabulary words at the beginning of each chapter. List the words whose meanings suggest they are used by Douglass in narrative to describe the horrors of slavery. | Execrate: curse or declare to be evil or anathema or threaten with divine punishmentPerpetrate: perform ...

    Read More
  • Fredrick Douglass

    ... Fredrick Douglass was born in Tuckahoe in the late 1810s, he never truly found out when his real birthday was or found any records that would inform him of it. He was born to Harriet Bailey and all he knew about his father was that he was a white man. Despite the rumors of Douglass’ father possibly being his master in a way his story is ...

    Read More
  • Fredrick Douglass

    ...Finding his own identity A successful way in keeping a person ignorant is to make sure to keep him or her illiterate. This was a strategy used to keep slaves from realizing how inhumane they were being treated. Fredrick Douglass had to learn this on his own. He went through many trials and tribulations to find his own identity. African America...

    Read More
  • Frederick Douglass Learning to Read

    ...Frederick Douglass’s narrative essay, “Learning to Read,” he explains how he taught himself how to read and write. His slave owners did not want him to earn an education, since they feared a slave who thought independently. I believe Douglass does not have an enabling figure in his life because he taught himself, through challenging other ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.