Learning To Read and Write is an autobiography Written by Frederick Douglass. Douglass was born into slavery, and moved into his final master’s home when he was a young boy. From the start Douglass was giving schooling from his mistress, however this came to an abrupt ending when Douglass’ master walked into a lesson and became furious. In spite of his lessons coming to an end, Frederick Douglass was determined to learn to read and write so he could escape his life of slavery and enter a new found life of freedom. With his determination Douglass was ready to do anything to learn.
In “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”, Frederick Douglass emphasizes the importance of education in empowering the oppressed and ending discrimination. He accomplishes this by outlining his struggle to freedom through education. Frederick Douglass believed that all people are created equal, but also believed that we weren't just born free, we have to make ourselves into who we are. Giving this, education and self-improvement were incredibly important to him. It is evident throughout Douglass’s work he believes the discrimination in access to education gave the white slaveholders an dominance and superiority over slaves.
Human slavery requires ignorance, just as an individual’s freedom, from oppression, requires knowledge attained by education. To maintain order and control over slaves, slavery demands ignorant slaves; thus, keeping slaves ignorant prevents slaves from recognizing the empowering value of education and education’s ability to liberate slaves from the effects of ignorance. Frederick Douglass’s pursuit of education helped him discover the dark, hidden truths of slavery in his article, “How I Learned to Read and Write.” Thus, the pursuit of education inspires a desire for freedom. The desire to learn generates determination and motivation.
Because of this, he successfully creates a contrast between what the slave owners think of and treat the slaves and how they are. Douglass says that slave’s minds were “starved by their cruel masters”(Douglass, 48) and that “they had been shut up in mental darkness” (Douglass, 48) and through education, something that they were deprived of, Frederick Douglass is able to open their minds and allow them to flourish into the complex people that they are. By showing a willingness to learn to read and write, the slaves prove that they were much more than what was forced upon them by their masters.
From the moment Frederick Douglass was given the tools to read “books” he was overcome with a joy and excitement for knowledge that inspired him to persevere regardless of the beliefs of others. As a slave Douglass was sent to live with his masters the Hugh family, during his time there his master’s wife began to teach him to read “books”. The lessons gave the young boy a chance to explore worlds he never imagined and was the beginning of an undeniable love for literature. Unfortunately when his master was informed of this he immediately halted all the lessons. Douglass recalls Mr. Hugh explaining to his wife that studying “books” was not suitable for slaves and
The legendary abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass was one of the most important social reformers of the nineteenth century. Being born into slavery on a Maryland Eastern Shore plantation to his mother, Harriet Bailey, and a white man, most likely Douglass’s first master was the starting point of his rise against the enslavement of African-Americans. Nearly 200 years after Douglass’s birth and 122 years after his death, The social activist’s name and accomplishments continue to inspire the progression of African-American youth in modern society. Through his ability to overcome obstacles, his strive for a better life through education, and his success despite humble beginnings, Frederick Douglass’s aspirations stretched his influence through
Douglass states: “The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery” (Douglass 51). Reading and writing opened Frederick Douglass’s eyes to the cause of the abolitionist. He became knowledgeable about a topic that white slave owners tried to keep hidden from their slaves. Literacy would eventually impact his life in more ways than what he could see while he was a young slave under Master Hugh’s
His knowledge made him realize that the enslaves were like robber who went to Africa and stole them from their own home. Douglass was unhappy and started to think of ways to change it ,and he then started to analyze the need of gaining their freedom from slaveholders, and the urge to runaway . “[I] got one of our city papers, containing an account of the number of petition from the north, praying for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia…” (Par. 9) When Douglass read the city papers, he then understood the true meaning of the words abolition and abolitionist. This means that literacy was a huge impact with Douglass of the true idea of slavery and how slaveholders were taking advantage of them .
With all the knowledge he was gaining, he began to comprehend everything around him. The things he was learning fascinated him, but the “more [he] read, the more [he] was led to abhor and detest [his] enslavers”(Douglass 35); however, that should not be viewed as a negative affect but a positive one. No one should want to be deceived for their entire life. This hatred that he built up motivated him to continue to further educate himself. As a result, he later motivated other slaves to earn an education by having “[availed] themselves to [an] opportunity to learn to read” (Douglass 69) by Douglass teaching them every Sunday.
In the autobiography The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass the author, Frederick Douglass, was born into a plantation in Maryland as a slave in the early 1800’s. He then moved to Baltimore where he was taught to read and this has a great effect on him. Douglass continues to gain more and more knowledge as he is passed on to different masters, until he gets his freedom. Douglass’s use of juxtaposition, characterization and tone conveys his constant faith that education is the key to freedom.
Frederick Douglass was a determined man who went through many overwhelming hardships to succeed in his goals. Douglass at a young age had a white mistress named Mrs. Auld who had taught him the alphabet. However, slavery proven to have an impact on her due to the teaching of a slave would cause a person to end up in prison or worse death. Mrs. Auld soon became an evil, bitter woman who treated him very harsh. Nevertheless teaching him the alphabet proven itself too late.
Education gives hope for Douglass’s life since he began to truly understand what goes on in slavery. As he figured out more about the topic, his self- motivation poured out hope in his life. As Frederick saw an opportunity to become free, he worked hard to accomplish it. Masters and slaveholders believe teaching slaves is wrong, but with Douglass’s
In Frederick Douglass’s narrative essay titled “Learning to Read” he recalls his journey to literacy. Throughout the essay Douglass reveals how he learned to read and write, despite the fact that education was strictly prohibited to slaves. Initially, Douglass learned how to read through his mistress, but he later learned from the little white boys on the streets. As for learning to write, he often times observed ship carpenters and replicated the copy-books of his Master’s son. Frederick Douglass did not have the same opportunities students have today, yet despite his adversities, Douglass was able to become a literate slave, and ultimately free himself from slavery with the power of
The power of education is a main theme within A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Douglass 's experiences lead him to recognize its great power and to believe that education is a key in our life. It has the power to open all doors while providing us with several opportunities. Education makes the difference; it expands the human mind since the more we know the more enlightened we are. It makes us free and it avoid us to be enslaved, too.
An education often opens new doors for people, but how does a lack of an education affect other people? What causes such a stark difference between people with knowledge and people no knowledge at all? In the Narrative of Frederick Douglass an American Slave we can see that Douglass is more intelligent than the other slaves on the plantation he is living on due to his hidden ability to read. With his level of education, he is able to see the brutal mistreatment of slaves and is unable to look at things the same way when he was an uneducated slave. The slaves on the plantation do not know how to read and therefore do not view being a slave the way Douglass views it.