Rhetorical Analysis Of Frederick Douglass 'Olaudah Within'

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During a time of civil unrest caused by racial tensions throughout the country preceding the Civil War, men who were born into captivity and slavery but rose above their background to become a prominent member in their community calling for social reform sometimes wrote what is referred to as a slave narrative. Each author wrote their autobiography for their own reasons, such as proving to the public that they were once a common slave or simply telling their story. Nonetheless, whether intentional or not, these authors often successfully advocated a case against slavery through employing rhetoric to convince both the white and colored audiences that change was needed. Two prominent authors of such slave narratives, Frederick Douglass and Olaudah…show more content…
Then he jumps into a description of his mother, the only family member whom he knows. However, this portrayal is scant because Douglass and his mother are “separated when [he is] but an infant—before [he knows] her as [his] mother”, which “is a common custom” (Douglass 395). Although he defines it as common, this is not commonplace amongst his readers, the white majority, but the slave world. While an enslaved mother loses her child almost immediately after giving birth, the white slaveholding parents nurture their own children and watch them grow up with love and support. The irony in this situation is that these people do not realize that they are tearing families apart all the while making sure that their family stays together. But by announcing this separation as a typical convention, Douglass is able to point out the hypocrisy in such actions. Chances are likely that the white audience will pause when they read these lines and ask themselves how this can be a tradition within a community that values family. Such a practice is strange and foreign to them, even though this is what they are doing to their own slaves, and their minds are now being open to the harsh realities that a slave endures while their slaveholders live their picturesque life with their
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