Frederick Douglass Context

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John Sekora notes Martha K. Cobb’s thoughts in regards to the formation of black literary tradition, when she says “the first-person voice presents the particularity of point of view that allows the narrator-protagonist the distinctive advantage of projecting his image, ordering his experiences, and presenting his thoughts in the context of his own understanding of black reality as it had worked itself out in his own life … it is a persistent defining and interpreting of personal, human, and moral identity, hence one’s worth, on the slave narrator’s own terms rather than on terms imposed by the society that has enslaved him or her (Sekora 484).” This is exactly what Douglass is doing in this text. In this narrative, he presents so many different…show more content…
Ideally, from a personal standpoint, I’d like to think and hope that Eldridge’s memoir and Douglass’ narrative could survive on their own without the paratexts that accompany them. But, if that is the case, why are they there? Valerie Pellatt explains that “paratext is the text that surrounds and supports the core text, like layers of packaging that initially protect and gradually reveal the essence of the packaged item (Pellatt 1),” so I’d like to briefly explore the “layers of packaging”, or paratext surrounding these two literary works and its importance in a literary piece. More specifically, I intend to break down the content in each preface, and examine it, in hopes of determining the purpose and…show more content…
She is targeting a specific audience—colored people. When Whipple opens the preface, she speaks about how colored people should be proud to support Eldridge, “who is both an honor and an ornament to their race (Whipple, pg.3).” When questioning the collaboration which produced these memoirs, and whether or not Whipple had ulterior motives in writing the piece, Joycelyn Moody points out that “a cultural as well as a social phenomenon, race anticipates this authorial collaboration by determining the structure and dynamics of the relationship and shapes it against its purposes. Scholars should consider not simply how Whipple interprets and and represents Eldridge but, more urgently, how Whipple conceptualizes social reform (Moody 690).” Could Whipple have included the preface to show that she and Eldridge were indeed good friends and to assure the reader that although she’s white, she empathized with, and supported colored people? Genette explains that one of the reasons why a paratext is written is because of its importance. I believe that this is the reason behind the initial preface on pages 4 and 5. The author is attributing “high value to a subject by demonstrating its importance … and the usefulness of examining it (Genette
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