How Is Frederick Douglass Literacy And Freedom

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Frederick Douglass’ “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave” is a brief look into what it means for a slave to be free during the nineteenth century, and how a slave can hope to achieve liberty through literacy. As Carson describes, Douglass employs “the use of certain literary strategies to emphasise the importance of writing in general as the only means for the slave both to overcome his social status of bondage and to acquire a true sense of self” (20). Douglass demonstrates the link between literacy and liberty with his mastery of the written word, and its connection to spiritual and mental enlightenment. Throughout the novel, he also shows us that his success and freedom came directly from his learning, and how …show more content…

A very important turning point in the narrative comes when Frederick Douglass uses physical force to combat his enslavement, by taking on his last abuser Covey. During the sequence, there is an apex in both the physical breaking away from slavery and the language techniques used to describe his immediate independence from slavery. He informs us “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man” (57) which is a chiasmus. Douglass attempts to reaffirm his identity as an equal to mankind, simultaneously distancing himself from the lowly slave. He also describes the moment as “a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of slavery, to the heaven of freedom” which again uses creative imagery employed to reaffirm his movement from slavery to freedom. This of course contrasts his physical struggle with his master Covey, which upon winning ensures his freedom from the brutality employed by his master. While on first reflection it is his physical force that wins him his sense of freedom, it is his style of writing which confirms his new awakened identity as a free …show more content…

He describes them with a “heart [that] must be harder than stone” (30) and “tiger-like fierceness” (32). Douglass also suspected that his father was a white man, and uses the Southerners own worshiped scripture to point out their hypocrisy by stating “it is certain that slavery at the south must soon become unscriptural; for thousands are ushered into the world, annually, who, like myself, owe their existence to white fathers, and those fathers most frequently their own masters.” (4). In doing this he is using his literacy as a form of avocation for the abolitionist movement.
His further support for the abolitionist movement is described while serving under Freeland, whereupon he befriended other slaves, and even began teaching in a Christ-like manner; “I taught them, because it was the delight of my soul to be doing something that looked like bettering the condition of my race.” (71) Once again Douglass fully acknowledges the connection freedom and literacy share, even to go so far as use forged documents in an attempt to lead his pupils to

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