Rhetorical Analysis of Frederick Douglass' Autobiogrophy

Topics: Slavery in the United States, Slavery, Abolitionism Pages: 3 (1078 words) Published: February 22, 2014
Frederick Douglass’s life narrative provides a look in on slavery by someone who was directly affected. Because many masters believed that teaching their slaves to read and write, “would spoil the best nigger in the world,” (Douglass 5) not many slaves were able to write their story for the future to see. Douglass’s perspective is a once and a lifetime look into how slavery affected an intelligent slave who knew how to both read and write. Unfortunately for him Douglass’s growing understanding was a curse rather than a blessing. As his intellect expanded, his misery deepened as well and his lack of freedom began to bother him. Douglass shows his expanding sorrow, using tone, imagery and selection of detail. Through the these ten pages of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the struggle between accepting a harsh truth and the desire to return to the bliss of ignorance is apparent. He would have been much happier if he had been stupid. This excerpt of Frederick Douglass’s life narrative didn’t have one consistent tone. Rather, he has three most noticeable changes in his inflection. In the beginning of the excerpt (pages 2-3), his tone is very ‘matter of fact’. He tells the reader about what it was like on a slave plantation but doesn’t tell the reader, how he felt about it. For example, Douglass discusses the allowances the slaves received, and says, “slaves received, as their monthly allowance of food, eight pounds of pork, or its equivalent in fish , and one bushel of corn meal.” (Douglass 2), however he doesn’t tell the reader if it was enough or not, or if he went to bed hungry, or not, at night. This emotion-lacking first part took a drastic turn as page 4 came along, and Douglass tells the reader the bitter anguish that were in the songs slaves sung, and that (even though he previously did not understand them) the sadness that resonated within him as he thought about them. He finally gives an effect of slavery at this point when he...
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