Frederick Douglass Narrative Essay

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The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass tells the true story of a slave who educated himself in order to become free. Frederick Douglass had no ability to read or write until he moved from a remote plantation in Maryland to Baltimore. Douglass had “days in the creek, [and washed] off his plantation scruff” all in preparation to move to Baltimore (Douglass 16). When he arrived at the home of the Auld’s in Baltimore, Mrs. Auld, who had never owned a slave before, “commenced to teach me [Douglass] the A, B, C” (20). This was the first encounter with the written, and spoken word that Frederick Douglass had ever experienced. At this time in America, it was “unlawful, as well as unsafe to teach a slave to read” (20). Mr. Auld ridiculed his wife for beginning to educate her slave, and told her “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master—to do as he is told to do. Learning will spoil the best nigger in the world” (20). Education, the ability to read and write, would make Douglass “forever unfit to be a slave” and would only add to his ability to reach the freedom he realized is out there in the world he is living in. …show more content…

The experience Frederick Douglass had becoming literate cause him to fluctuate between a strong desire to continue in his journey, and at points he just wants to give up all hope. Douglass describes the written word, which he is finally able to understand, as the “pathway from slavery to freedom” (20). Frederick Douglass had a sense of language and writing that was practical in its ability to serve the purpose he needed. His ability to teach himself proves how strong of a slave he was, and the path to freedom would only inch closer and closer as he further understood the power of the written

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