In the Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass: an American Slave, written by himself, the author argues that slaves are treated no better than, sometimes worse, than livestock. Douglass supports his claim by demonstrating how the slaves were forced to eat out of a trough like pigs and second, shows how hard they were working, like animals. The author’s purpose is to show the lifestyle of an American slave in order to appeal to people’s emotions to show people, from a slave’s perspective, what slavery is really like. Based on the harsh descriptions of his life, Douglass is writing to abolitionist and other people that would sympathize and abolish slavery.
Frederick Douglass was a freed slave in the 1800’s who was famous for his ability to read and write, uncommon of a black man at the time. On July 4th, 1852, he gave a speech to citizens of the United States. In this speech, he called out the “hypocrisy of the nation”(Douglass), questioning the nation's treatment of slaves on a supposed day of independence. Frederick Douglass effectively uses rhetorical strategies to construct his argument and expose the hypocrisy of the nation.
In chapter 5, Douglass begins his narrative to discuss the animal-like, inhuman treatment he received from his past slaveowner. Douglass does this by his use of diction and imagery throughout chapter 5. For example, he says “I suffered much from hunger, but much more from cold” (34). The diction and imagery Douglass uses in these sentences helps discuss the purpose of inhumanity by describing how the slaves were treated horribly. They were not given enough food and they were not given the proper amount of clothing need to stay warm in the frigid winter. The effect of this powerful quotes conveys a doleful tone that teaches the audience how many slaves, including Douglass, had suffered. Another example would be when he writes “The children were then called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs, they would come and devour the mush…” (34). This quotes diction and imagery helps exhibit the purpose of animal-like, treatment by comparing the slave children as pigs. Douglass also does this by describing the food that they were given, like mush. The simile that Douglass uses effects the audience in that it conveys a sense of disturbance and gives the reader a clear picture of what and how the slave were forced to eat. These quotes help forecast Douglass’s purpose of the slaves being
To continue his persuasion, Douglass uses selection of detail and different tones to make his view known. When describing some aspects of slavery, Douglass’ use of detail opens society’s eyes to injustice. In one case, when describing the whipping of his Aunt Hester, he includes details that encompass sight- “the warm, red blood… came dripping to the floor,” sound- “amid heart-rending shrieks,” and emotion- “I was so horror-stricken… I hid myself in a closet” (Douglass, 24). By including facts covering many senses, he provides the reader a chance to piece together the scene, giving them perspective. If society has all the details, it becomes easier for them to pass an accurate judgment of slavery. His detail, or lack thereof,
Frederick Douglass focuses mostly on appealing emotionally to pathos through the use of imagery. He writes, “there were no beds given the slaves, unless one coarse blanket be considered such.” He again appeals to pathos when describing the eating portions. Douglass explains the eating troughs used for children and says “few left the trough satisfied.” Douglass illustrates the cruel conditions slaves faced, from the bare sleeping quarters to the harsh whippings received. This effects the reader by helping them visualize the conditions the slaves were placed in. He chose to do this to inform those who weren’t aware of what was happening inside the gated properties. Douglass next establishes credibility through the use of ethos. He begins his narrative by giving background information and stating that he has “no accurate knowledge” of his age. Douglass implies that he can be trusted because of his own personal experience.
Frederick Douglass was a great author who used a variety of literary devices to contribute to his overall writing. One of his main literary elements that he uses is diction. What is diction? According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary diction is the way in which words are used in speech or writing. Douglass’ use of diction helps emphasize key point about slavery that writes about. Also, diction helps to convey the message that Douglass is writing about. Douglass uses diction is to describe the struggles and experiences of his life. Lastly, through his use of diction, Douglass was able to reveal what truly happened to slaves in the south, as well as the corruption of the slaveholders.
America’s history is overrun with oppression and injustice based on race, ethnicity, and other traits that innocent victims have no control over. As a result, the reputation of the United States is forever tainted by it’s dark past, and still practices these surviving habits of hatred. Civil liberty issues faced since the establishment of the country have yet to be resolved because of the ever-present mistreatment, corruption in positions of authority, and the dehumanization of minorities.
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe”- Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass was a wise and brave man that grew up in the American slave system. He knows first hand the hardships of being owned by someone and having no way to escape that kind of life. After escaping from slavery he decided to write a book on the hardships of his life. In the book he describes the life of the slave and the many aspects that are not usually learned. These aspects describe the life of a slave in a point of view that is not usually looked at; the point of view of a slave.
While the narrative’s purpose is mainly to describe the transformation from a slave to a free man, it is also to describe the transformation from a man into a slave. The passage from The Narrative and Life of Frederick Douglass depicts Douglass’s descent into the most brutal conditions of slavery and his reaffirmation of his desire to be free. Under the possession of Mr. Covey, Douglass finds himself to be a broken spirit confined to the bonds of slavery, though later transitions to describe the reigniting of his few expiring embers of freedom. The passage enforces his rage and aggression towards slavery, but the strength of the third paragraph also brings to life his desire for freedom and his willingness to act on the incentive.
On July 4, 1852, former slave and American abolitionist, Frederick Douglass is invited to speak before an abolitionist audience in Rochester, New York. Although the speech should address the greatness and freedom of the nation on independence day, Frederick Douglass uses his platform to display his displeasure with the meaning of freedom in white America. Therefore, the sole purpose of his speech is to unmask the hypocrisy of a nation who dares celebrate freedom and independence while keeping African American slaves. To Douglass, the 4th of July is a constant reminder of the unfairness of the political and social core of the nation. As a social activist and most importantly a former slave, Frederick Douglass uses multiple rhetorical strategies to indict America on the immoral practice of slavery.
Frederick Douglass was an abolitionist, a human rights activist, and a former slave with a lot to say. July 4, 1852, a man was asked to speak at a Declaration signing commemoration event. This man, an African- American former slave steps up on stage and delivers a speech of the century, informing the white crowd of the slave's perspective on the 'celebration of freedom'. In the speech, Douglass claims that the Fourth of July is a day of mourning for current and former slaves instead of the celebration the White Americans partake in. Throughout the speech, he uses logos, ethos, and pathos to emphasize the hard perspective of a day that reminds the slave of their lack of freedom.
Noted abolitionist Frederick Douglass, in his self titled slave narrative addresses the indescribable sadness that the slaves were experiencing, which they portrayed through song. He intensely describes the emotions that he hears within the songs of the slaves. In the passage Douglass shows how the slaves believe that they feel, versus how they really feel, and he does this this by changing the tone throughout the passage. He uses these tones to make the reader fully feel the helplessness that the slaves feel and recognize the effects that slavery had on people.
Nelson Mandela said, “When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” One such man, Frederick Douglas, wrote “From What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? An Address Delivered in Rochester, New York, on 5 July 1852.” He argues that even though blacks and whites went to fight in the war to be free, that promise was not kept to the blacks. Douglass persuades a northern, white audience, to oppose slavery and favor abolition. Douglass wants to remind abolitionist and White Americans that July 4 was not a celebration for slaves and former slaves. Independence Day only made slaves remember that they were made promises for freedom that were not kept.